College lacrosse: No. 1 ranked teams have lost in six straight weeks. Who's next?
The new No. 1 team in men's lacrosse shouldn't get too comfortable when the latest Inside Lacrosse poll comes out Monday. After all, if the past month and a half is any indication, it may be a short stay.
Seven teams have held the outright title or a share of the top rank in each of the past six week's polls. All seven have fallen that same week.
Call it a curse. Call it parity. Either way, no No. 1 team is safe as the regular season dwindles down. Let's take a look at all the craziness over the past six weeks:
Penn State is undefeated no more | April 8
The Nittany Lions had an unblemished record through their first 10 games. Then they earned the top spot and ran into conference foe No. 8 Maryland in College Park.
The curse of No. 1 strikes again. https://t.co/sFy3m10DYf— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAA_Lax) April 8, 2017
Connor Kelly scored four goals and Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock added a hat trick apiece to give the Terps a 15-11 victory on their Senior Day. The most glaring statistic was that Maryland won 20-of-30 faceoffs against a PSU squad that ranked third in the nation in faceoff win percentage (.667).
Notre Dame stumbles vs. Syracuse | April 1
This top-three ACC showdown certainly lived up to expectations as the No. 3 Orange needed to shut out the Fighting Irish for the final 6:49 of regulation to hold on to an 11-10 win.
Syracuse's Nick Mariano scored consecutive goals to open up an 11-9 lead in the final frame. Notre Dame's Brendan Collins answered back with his only goal of the day but Orange goalie Evan Molloy stonewalled the Irish for the rest of the day to secure the huge conference win.
Rutgers stunned by Delaware | March 25
Rutgers is the only fallen No. 1 in this group to have lost to an unranked team. Delaware made program history with its 13-9 win at Delaware Stadium, marking the Blue Hens' first-ever victory over a top-ranked opponent.
Rutgers had won eight straight games to open the season to that point, climbing all the way from a No. 19 preseason ranking to No. 1. Its stifling defense had held opponents to 10 or less goals on six occasions. But Delaware had an answer that day.
Denver pummeled by Ohio State | March 19
It's not too often you see a 10-goal run by one side in lacrosse. But the then-No. 18 Buckeyes' balanced offense found a way to do so in a 16-7 upset over Denver. Seven different Buckeyes netted goals and Tre Leclaire and Eric Fannell each finished with seven-point days.
Yet still, OSU's defensive performance may have been the most impressive takeaway. The Buckeyes held Denver — currently ranked eighth in scoring — to zero goals over the opening 39 minutes. That seven-goal performance stands as the lowest output from the Pioneers this year.
Notre Dame slips up vs. Denver | March 12
It was happier times for the Pioneers a week earlier when Connor Cannizzaro bounced in a game-winning goal with time expiring as then-No. 5 Denver shocked the Fighting Irish 11-10.
The Pioneers controlled the faceoff circle, winning 19-of-24 attempts, and were 4-for-6 on extra-man opportunites in what was otherwise a deadlocked contest.
Denver falls flat against UNC | March 4
The No. 1 ranking was like a pendulum swinging back and forth between Denver and Notre Dame as each team traded defeats during this three-week period. That trend started with the Pioneers' 13-9 loss to North Carolina in Week 3.
Denver had plenty of offensive opportunities — the Pioneers outshot UNC 43-34 — but Tar Heels goalie Brian Balkam stood tall with 17 saves. The Pioneers are 0-2 this season when failing to reach double figures on the scoreboard.
But Denver wasn't the only No. 1 team to go down that day...
Maryland falls in low-scoring duel with Irish | March 4
Coming full circle, Maryland, the winning team responsible for Saturday's latest No. 1 upset, was in fact the first top-ranked team to fall in this ongoing streak. The Terps were tied with Denver for No. 1 in Week 3 and lost the same day as the Pioneers in a 5-4 defensive struggle with Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish held the 4-3 edge heading into the final quarter and tacked on its last goal of the day for insurance at the 12:33 mark. Maryland scored with 18 seconds left in regulation to bring the deficit back down to one but couldn't pick up the last-second equalizer.
Five different programs have held the No. 1 title during this six-week stretch. It's very likely yet another new name will enter the fold this upcoming week.
So will the streak continue?
Well, No. 2 Syracuse is in prime position to take over the top spot. The Orange face No. 19 North Carolina, the preseason No. 1 pick that's already beaten one top-ranked team this year. So a slip-up is certainly possible.
Then there's No. 3 Hofstra, off to a 10-0 start with quality wins over UNC and Princeton. The Pride next face Drexel (4-6) at home. A loss isn't likely, but there have been crazier upsets.
Once the question of who gets the top spot next is answered Monday, the new inquiry becomes just how long can they hold onto it?