It was a wild weekend across the college lacrosse nation. With big wins, devastating losses and a flurry of movement among the rankings, the home stretch proves to be one of the most highly contested in recent history.
The weekend was highlighted by Maryland's loss at home to the UNC Tar Heels. The Heels played a full 60 minutes of high level lacrosse, led by Jimmy Bitter's three goals and two assists. The Heels, now 5-3 on the year, have been lacking consistency as of late, but undoubtedly have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the nation.
Previously ranked No. 1 in the country, Maryland was unable to keep up with the North Carolina offense, and also lost some big face-offs in clutch moments. UNC goalie Kieran Burke recorded 15 saves on the day, helping keep a potent Terrapins offense under 10 goals for the first time this year. The final score was 10-8 in favor of UNC.
In another big matchup, Hopkins destroyed Virginia 15-8. The game, played in Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, saw Hopkins take control early and never let up. The Blue Jays' transition game was the key, providing flurries of shots and scores on their way to the dominating victory. Hopkins goaltender Pierce Bassett recorded 16 saves and a 69 percent save rate on the day. Hopkins also saw hat tricks from Wells Stanwick, Ryan Brown and Rex Sanders.
Virginia, now 5-4 in 2013, was led by four goals from Mark Cockerton. Moving forward, it seems that Hopkins has found its stride and is playing its best lacrosse when it counts the most.
In a big Ivy League matchup, Cornell defeated a surging Penn team 10-5 in Ithaca. Steve Mock continued his hot streak by recording four goals on the afternoon. Unfortunately for Cornell, this conference victory comes after a shocking mid-week loss to Bucknell. If it was not for this loss, Cornell would be No. 1 in the rankings.
Drexel outlasted a talented Hofstra team on Saturday in three overtimes. Drexel, led by three goals from Ben McIntosh, broke through after a Hofstra penalty, winning the contest by a score of 8-7. Hofstra, ranked No. 7 a week ago, has suffered two straight losses to set them back in the national landscape.
Who Should be the Number 1 Team in the Country?
Another big victory this weekend went in favor of the Villanova Wildcats. Nova, who has been struggling this season, pulled out a one-goal victory against No. 4 Syracuse in Philadelphia. Syracuse had been playing outstanding lacrosse, and may have overlooked an underacheiving Wildcats squad. Max Hart had a goal and three assists for Villanova, who won despite a poor performance in goal. The Wildcats are now 2-5 on the season as they prepare to take on Penn State next weekend.
In other action, Princeton squeaked by Yale on Friday night, keeping pace in the Ivy League. Notre Dame, the new No. 1 in the Nike Division I Top 20 Poll, also had a scare, barely beating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Piscataway, NJ.
The pools should look very different today, as they have many times thus far in 2013. Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for thoughts on the rankings, as well as predictions and results for all the big-time action this week.