Patriot League Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Colgate-Lehigh

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Get your face ready for Raiders-Mountain Hawks.

Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the Patriot League Tournament.

When the 2013 season saw its sunrise, many people that hadn't suffered serious head trauma due to a freak piano-falling-on-skull-from-six-stories-up injury expected this game to actually become the Patriot League's championship game this year. The two teams battled for the conference's championship just a season ago in Nowhere, New York, and both programs looked poised to collide again in late April. That narrative expectation, however, hasn't held -- the Mountain Hawks have positioned themselves in the national picture again this year, but Colgate has struggled through a season that has seen the Raiders take an unmitigated beating at the hands of Cornell, lose to Hobart in heartbreaking fashion, and look completely lost against Army at home. Friday serves as either a chance at redemption for Colgate or an encounter with destiny for Lehigh; it's the meeting all anticipated at the start of the year, but under very different circumstances.

THE COMPUTING MACHINE SAYS

Log5: Lehigh (70.69%); Colgate (29.31%)

DOSSIERS

Patriot League Tournament: Colgate (4) vs. Lehigh (1)
COLGATE RAIDERS LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS
OPPORTUNITIES/TEMPO
Pace 69.78 (14) 63.64 (47)
Opportunities Margin +0.38 (31) +1.07 (22)
Possession Ratio 50.27% (33) 50.84% (23)
Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 31.72 (25) 29.36 (43)
Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 90.41% (41) 90.73% (46)
Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 31.11 (37) 28.29 (12)
Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 89.65% (9) 90.41% (13)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 10.70 (5) 12.00 (25)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 33.73% (7) 40.88% (35)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 12.38 (34) 12.79 (25)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 39.80% (35) 45.20% (15)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin +1.68 (12) +0.79 (24)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio 6.07% (13) 4.33% (19)
ADJUSTED EFFICIENCIES
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.89 (37) 34.53 (12)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.82 (23) 25.06 (13)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin +1.08 (30) +9.47 (7)
SHOOTING
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.10 (33) 1.11 (26)
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 26.64% (38) 29.96% (21)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.97 (9) 0.95 (7)
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 28.34% (36) 25.66% (13)
ASSISTS
Offensive Assist Ratio 47.76% (58) 66.23% (3)
Offensive Assist Rate 13.94 (51) 22.08 (8)
Defensive Assist Ratio 57.60% (38) 62.62% (51)
Defensive Assist Rate 15.86 (28) 15.30 (20)
EXTRA-MAN RATES
Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 7.84 (60) 11.04 (27)
Extra-Man Posture Reliance 6.72% (62) 13.91% (17)
Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 25.00% (55) 42.00% (9)
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 10.35 (30) 11.87 (45)
Man-Down Posture Reliance 16.80% (55) 14.95% (49)
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 32.69% (33) 30.77% (22)
MISCELLANEOUS
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Team) 5.70 (35) 6.40 (44)
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Opponent) 4.16 (59) 7.41 (7)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Team) 19.38 (46) 26.03 (16)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Opponent) 18.30 (10) 26.71 (53)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 40.09 (11) 46.36 (34)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 46.04 (27) 50.46 (13)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 21.79 (23) 19.65 (9)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 26.65 (6) 24.43 (26)
Team "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 28.37 (26) 29.85 (18)
Opponent "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 24.42 (15) 27.95 (34)
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin +3.94 (15) +1.91 (22)
GOALIE ACTIVITY
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 27.31 (59) 35.62 (26)
Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 33.77 (35) 30.02 (9)
Team Save Percentage 49.80% (50) 59.32% (6)
Opponent Save Percentage 53.63% (35) 47.39% (9)

THOUGHTS AND STUFF

Two pieces of incredibly important information about each team from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Will Colgate get enough stops out of Conor Murphy -- with the help of the defense in front of him -- to stymie one of the stronger offenses in the country? The Raiders have, similar to last year but under different circumstances, struggled with play between the pipes, holding a team save percentage best described as "icky" and a concomitant saves per defensive possession value ranking among the lowest in the nation. Exceptional goaltending play isn't necessarily a "must have; can't do without" to winning games, but uneven play in the crease can create a lot of problems. Against Lehigh, Murphy and his defense are going to need to come correct -- the Mountain Hawks are a terror for opposing keepers. Lehigh has abused the competition standing between the six-by-six this season: Only eight teams see opposing keepers save fewer shots on goal than what the Mountain Hawks force the opposition into; only eight teams have opposing goaltenders end opportunities with fewer saves than Lehigh's mark; Lehigh generates all kinds of preferable scoring opportunities, assisting only over two-thirds of their goals and generating assists, on a possession basis, at a rate that only seven teams surpass; and the Mountain Hawks are a fairly decent shooting team, clicking on about 30 percent of their attempts (due in no small part to the team's ability to share the ball). It's not just Lehigh's overall offensive efficiency that creates difficult circumstances for Murphy to thrive; rather, it's how the Mountain Hawks generate their offense that is going to cause Murphy to rise to the occasion. I'm not exactly sure how Colgate is going to approach this on Friday -- do the Raiders pack it in to protect Murphy? do the Raiders attempt to get on the hands of Lehigh's offensive players and create turnovers? will Colgate really push its ride -- a facet of the game where the Raiders have found success this season -- and try to kill defensive opportunities before they gestate in the attack box (Colgate could find success here given the Mountain Hawks' clearing rate and their somewhat high proclivity for turning the ball over)? -- but Murphy's play (and how his support group performs) is going to factor into the outcome.
  • I wouldn't say that this is a significant driver for Lehigh, but it may become something to keep an eye on as play develops on Friday: The Mountain Hawks have drawn a fairly high level of penalties from the opposition this season and Colgate is committing infractions at a rate that sits right around the national average; connectedly, how much offense may the Mountain Hawks get out of an extra-man unit that is clicking on about 42 percent of their chances this season? Lehigh hasn't played an exorbitant level of man-up opportunities this season on per-possession basis nor have the Mountain Hawks relied heavily on these postures to make the scoreboard blink, but given the Raiders' profile combined with Lehigh's ability to draw flags, the Mountain Hawks' effort with the extra attacker could dictate how this game plays out. Opponents are generating many of their goals against the Raiders in extra-man situations -- only eight teams have a higher rate of goals allowed that have come from these postures -- and given Colgate's troubles in the crease and Lehigh's offensive approach, postures that permit the Mountain Hawks to roll out their extra-man offense could definitively swing the momentum of the game. If the Raiders can keep their hands to themselves this issue becomes moot, but Lehigh could have a real opportunity here to change the complexion of the game with its extra-man attack.
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