Working Off The Weekend: Five Things to Know
1. Who's No. 1?
After Virginia lost to Duke on Friday night and Johns Hopkins lost to Maryland less than 24 hours later, it seems about time to give either UMass or Loyola a shot at dealing with the top spot. Both are undefeated and 11-0 coming off wins Saturday. The Minutemen beat Drexel, 8-6, in a neutral-site game on Long Island. The Greyhounds won on the road in Denver in front of sold-out crowd.
Let's compare Loyola and UMass' resumes, just for fun of course – because if I've learned anything over the last few years, it's that rankings do not matter but are great for debate.
My vote goes to Loyola. Some may argue for Cornell as well. The Big Red is 9-1, lost in overtime against Virginia in its second game without injured Rob Pannell, and has beaten Denver (in overtime), Army and Syracuse. But overall, Cornell's opponents' record is 49-58 (.457). A win to end the regular season against Princeton and a strong Ivy League tournament can help its cause. And if Pannell comes back from the foot injury – there hasn't been an update out of Ithaca as we approach the early end of his projected timetable for return – all bets are off.
2. Maryland-Johns Hopkins
When I tweeted Saturday that Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (friend of Dave Pietramala) were both on the sideline at the Johns Hopkins-Maryland game on Saturday, it elicited one reader reply that said "Baseball is dead."
Indeed, ESPNU's opening to the 108th meeting between the local rivals did the game's hype and the sport justice, showing the celebrity NFL coaches right off the bat and the huge crowd at Homewood Field, to go along with the cool style contrast between Maryland's new-age Under Armour state-flag black uniforms and Johns Hopkins' throwback Nike whites, complete with helmet stickers to replicate the olden times.
Then, of course, Maryland stunned the homestanding Blue Jays in the second half. Hopkins didn't score in the final 29 minutes. It was only the third time in the Dave Pietramala era that Hopkins has blown a three-goal lead at home, as LaxMagazine.com's Gary Lambrecht wrote in his game story.
If Duke beats Virginia in the situation in which it entered Friday night's game, when will the Cavaliers ever beat the Blue Devils in the near future? Duke won 13-5, and improved to 12-1 against UVA in their last 13 meetings. It doesn't seem to matter where or when these two teams play.
Duke was one week removed from needing a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Marist, 11-10, and generally didn't know the identity of its team. Virginia entered behind a pair of ACC wins against Maryland and North Carolina in which the Cavs put away top-10 teams in the second half and had a solid sense of how they did it. But Virginia never showed its muscle on Friday.
Duke senior long stick CJ Costabile, if he didn't win a faceoff against any of four Virginia takers, wrought havoc in the midfield after it with a check and scooping a ground ball. He had nine of those. Goalie Dan Wigrizer had maybe the game of his career, making 14 saves. During Duke's amazing 6-0 second-half run, Virginia barely had the ball. And when it did, the Blue Devils' game plan against Steele Stanwick worked wonders. Duke used its big athletic defensemen to stay on Stanwick's hands, deny passing lanes as best they could and not let the Cavaliers' two-man pick game thwart them. Six-foot-four, 205-pound sophomore close defenseman Henry Lobb and 6-foot-4, 211-pound fellow sophomore defenseman Chris Hipps (a former Texas high school football player) drew the assignment around the cage most of the time and limited the Tewaaraton Award favorite to three points, with two assists coming in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.
The Senior Night crowd of 7,234 gave Stanwick a standing ovation when he was honored last during pregame ceremonies, but their buzz wore off in the first half and was completely gone in the second half. As Duke piled on the goals, there was, for Virginia fans, that painful noise coming from the visiting faithful while the rest of the stadium grew silent. Some left early. After one Duke goal, I heard the ping from a metal bat at the Virginia-North Carolina baseball game being played next door.
"It's disappointing," Stanwick said on the field after the game. "You always want to play well, especially on Senior Night with this type of crowd. We should've played better than we did. It's a long season, and we know that. We're not going to point our fingers. We've just got to get better. At this point last year, we weren't doing too well. We have plenty of time to turn it around. We don't need to freak out or anything. We just need to play better."
4. Rivalries on Campus
Speaking of Duke-Virginia and Maryland-Hopkins, there is nothing like great on-campus college rivalry games and the atmospheres they create. The first fans arrived at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville two hours early to set up folding chairs and blankets on the hill opposite the metal bleachers. Homewood Field attracted a sold-out crowd of 8,500, including two of the NFL's 32 head coaches. Army-Navy at West Point had more than 10,000 spectators and, in the Mountain time zone, Denver and undefeated Loyola played in front of 2,547 fans at Peter Barton Stadium. Michigan counted lacrosse game-only attendance (4,458) in the Battle at the Big House against Ohio State, held after the Wolverines' spring football game.
5. Northwestern-North Carolina
In another big game from the weekend, the Northwestern women held North Carolina scoreless for 29 minutes in the second half – just like the Maryland men did to Hopkins – and the top-ranked Wildcats edged UNC 8-7 before 1,534 spectators at Lakeside Field. Northwestern trailed 6-4 at halftime but turned the storyline of the game on the draw. UNC had won eight of 11 draw controls in the first half, but the Wildcats secured all six after halftime. Reigning ALC Rookie of the Year Alyssa Leonard had five of them.
Taylor Thornton had a career-best six ground balls, caused two turnovers, had two draw controls and scored the first two goals of the second half to tie the score at 6. Shannon Smith scored what held up as the game-winner to put NU up 8-6 with 9:41 left.