Consider the Revenge on Duke postponed for a week. There's no need to overanalyze why. 8 for 25 on faceoffs - that'll about do it. I said before the game the only real way to slow down the Duke attack would be to keep the ball out of their hands, which we utterly failed to do at the faceoff X. Brian McDermott took the vast majority of them - the other two faceoff men took a few and lost them all - and sometimes, he got outright beat right off the bat. Sometimes he won the draw and then flubbed the ensuing ground ball. And sometimes he had the ground ball on his stick and was assaulted by Duke's wingmen, because our wings were late to the ball every single time. Historically, seeing UVA struggle on faceoffs is nothing new, but that performance outsucked all past sucky faceoff performances. Just pitiful.
Shame, too, because it wasted a pretty decent show by Adam Ghitelman in net. Stats don't show it, but it was one of his better games. Adam will always let in a goal or two that he shouldn't let in, but when Good Adam shows up, he also makes a fair number saves he shouldn't make.
Then again, maybe Adam was the problem after all - rarely does a shot miss the net so badly as his did. Looked like he was aiming for the scoreboard. I guess we'll let it slide and let his goalie stick be his excuse. This time. Win or lose that was the highlight of the day - the goalie racing up the field with the ball like a crazed inmate loose from the padded cell. I'm not sure what was more awesomer - the realization by the time he reached the midfield V-sabre that he had no intention of passing to a teammate, or the shit-eating grin on his face that the helmet couldn't hide from the camera after the predictably errant shot attempt.
As for baseball, no way I'm gonna treat this one like a loss, no matter how much it felt like a giant stomach punch to lose the sweep in the ninth inning. That's all we lost - the series was a big fat win. Tech can now go back to pretending football is the only sport they compete in. Or pretending to be front-running Dook fans, whichever floats their boat.
Besides, there's too much good to take away from this weekend to let one inning spoil it. Like the continued slow-but-steady upward progress from Cody Winiarski, and the corresponding downward trend in his ERA. And for a guy that's decidedly not a strikeout pitcher, the three in a row trick that he pulled off in yesterday's sixth inning was pretty cool. Or the continued emergence of Branden Kline as a dependable long-relief option. Good for this year when we'll need a bullpen during tournament weekends and good for the future as he hopefully transitions to the rotation.
The bats also did a very nice job of throttling Tech's two best pitchers. Jesse Hahn gave us five runs in six innings and closer extraordinaire Ben Rowen earned the loss on Friday when John Hicks and Phil Gosselin broke up a 2-2 tie in the eighth. And the next three series are juicy: Maryland (terrible), Duke (mediocre) and UNC (without which you can't spell UNderaChieving.)
Now about these rankings. Meaningless, so it's silly to get worked up over them, but I'm gonna anyway. The lacrosse rankings are a pretty standard exhibition of the severe ADD that pollsters always have: you lose, you get dropped from the #1 ranking, and never mind the fact that you've already beaten the newly crowned #1 team, or that said #1 team doesn't have any wins over top-5 teams or teams that don't have any other losses. This would be Syracuse, whose wins over ranked teams are: #6 Princeton, #8 Cornell, #10 Georgetown, #17 Hopkins, and #20 Denver. Doesn't match up so good against a resume that includes wins over the #1, #3, #5, #8, #11, #12, #14, and #17 teams. Ranking Syracuse ahead of UVA is insane.
But not quite as insane as the Collegiate Baseball poll, which rewards UVA's series win over a team they'd previously ranked with a drop from #4 to #10. Tenth? Collegiate Baseball trumpets the fact that they're the oldest NCAA baseball poll, but it's easy to see why there are others: clearly there was a crying need for better ones. The rest of the polls have UVA either #2 or #4 - either is totally defensible. I guess CB thinks it's better to lose a series to Kansas (LSU), a game to 12-22 Fordham (Miami), or take any number of eyebrow-raising losses (South Dakota State? Really, Arkansas?) than one to a team that's 29-8. As Mike Scott would say, smh.
I know, I know, bitching about the polls gets you nowhere, but in it's own way, it's kinda fun anyway. Besides, there's much bright side to look at. Some not-too-exciting things happened this weekend, but look at it this way: It took an unprecedented, epic collapse on faceoffs to hand the lax team its first loss; there's no way they'll be that bad on Friday for the big rematch. And it took an unprecedented, epic collapse on the part of the two best relievers in the bullpen to blow what would have been a sweep over Tech; there's no way that happens again all year. Arico and Wilson are too good for that.