ECAC Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Fairfield-Denver

Rob Carr

Get your face ready for Stags-Pioneers.

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 ECAC Tournament.

Fairfield's only shot at sniffing a May adventure requires the Stags to pull off another major upset of the Pioneers today in Geneva, New York; there are no tomorrows at this point for Andy Copelan's teams. As for Denver, the Pioneers are looking to assert itself and create some momentum for what could be a special trip to Championship Weekend (what would be its second in three seasons).

THE COMPUTING MACHINE SAYS

Log5: Fairfield (27.15%); Denver (72.85%)

DOSSIERS

ECAC Tournament: Fairfield (4) vs. Denver (1)
FAIRFIELD STAGS OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
OPPORTUNITIES/TEMPO
Pace 61.93 (56) 60.37 (60)
Opportunities Margin -0.57(36) +1.55 (21)
Possession Ratio 49.54% (36) 51.29% (20)
Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 28.11 (50) 29.83 (41)
Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 91.63% (41) 96.36% (2)
Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 29.04 (17) 28.70 (15)
Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 92.92% (44) 97.60% (63)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 11.49 (16) 11.71 (21)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 40.86% (34) 39.24% (23)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 11.91 (38) 10.16 (59)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 41.03% (30) 35.38% (57)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin +0.43 (26) -1.55 (48)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio 0.17% (29) -3.86% (45)
ADJUSTED EFFICIENCIES
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 30.43 (31) 42.32 (1)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 30.52 (29) 30.87 (33)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin -0.08 (34) +11.45 (4)
SHOOTING
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.12 (27) 1.19 (11)
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 26.14% (44) 33.97% (3)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.13 (40) 1.25 (57)
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 27.38% (24) 25.00% (11)
ASSISTS
Offensive Assist Ratio 48.41% (57) 58.76% (24)
Offensive Assist Rate 14.19 (52) 23.69 (2)
Defensive Assist Ratio 48.15% (4) 53.08% (22)
Defensive Assist Rate 14.84 (11) 16.55 (32)
EXTRA-MAN RATES
Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 13.49 (9) 12.07 (17)
Extra-Man Posture Reliance 11.90% (29) 10.73% (41)
Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 25.86% (53) 35.85% (28)
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 8.68 (10) 8.63 (9)
Man-Down Posture Reliance 8.89% (12) 6.15% (3)
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 31.58% (22) 22.22% (4)
MISCELLANEOUS
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Team) 4.84 (14) 4.67 (11)
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Opponent) 6.80 (13) 6.43 (16)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Team) 21.92 (29) 18.71 (50)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Opponent) 27.67 (58) 20.27 (19)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 45.81 (34) 41.46 (16)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 45.21 (31) 36.93 (63)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 18.14 (3) 21.18 (18)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 23.29 (32) 18.23 (60)
Team "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 35.02 (2) 27.10 (35)
Opponent "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 32.83 (56) 24.53 (14)
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin +2.19 (24) +2.57 (22)
GOALIE ACTIVITY
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 35.16 (26) 41.25 (7)
Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 34.19 (34) 32.35 (23)
Team Save Percentage 53.29% (28) 56.95% (9)
Opponent Save Percentage 53.85% (35) 44.51% (4)

THOUGHTS AND STUFF

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

  • Here's the thing about Denver: The offense is so good, so explosive, and so efficient that it makes you forget that the Pioneers are only an average defensive team. This is similar to North Carolina's profile in recent seasons where the strength of one unit pushed the overall competitiveness of the entire team toward the top of the country relative to the rest of the nation (although, the Tar Heels of recent vintage and this Pioneers team are significantly different in many ways (notably, this Denver team is arguably better)). That's the ultimate value of Denver's offense -- there isn't a unit in the country as good as what the Pioneers have on their offensive side of the field. There are stars -- Eric Law, Wes Berg, Cam Flint, an alligator with a bazooka (probably), etc. -- but what makes Denver most impressive is that they're a laser light show with "Kashmir" blaring over the loudspeakers: (1) No team is more efficient at generating goals on a possession-by-possession basis (even though the team does turn the ball over more than you'd like to see (especially in the attack box)); (2) Only two teams pick corners more accurately than the Pioneers (thanks, in part, to the team's beautiful Canadian influence); (3) Denver shares the ball like crazy, utilizing the entirety of the offense to create mayhem for opposing defenses; and (4) The Pios don't need extra-man opportunities to score, picking their spots in transition to run and dominating settled situations. It's an amazing thing to see an offense this good.
  • The story of Fairfield is this: An average team that does a handful of things exceptionally well (and a few things impressively poorly). These kinds of teams are especially dangerous in tournament settings as all they need to conduct a damage clinic are some preferable circumstances -- for the opposition to have an uncharacteristically bad day (for a myriad of reasons, including being in a tough matchup and not coming with a baseline level of focus) and for the underdog to play above its head (in an assortment of ways). The Stags are the least competitive team in the ECAC Tournament this week (full disclosure: "least competitive" in this context means sitting right around the national average in competitiveness), but that doesn't mean that they're going to get steamrolled like a cartoon character, brought back to life by wringing them out like a wrinkled shirt: Just two weeks ago the Stags pulled a stunning upset of Denver in Colorado. For Fairfield to win today, a few things likely need to fall in their favor: (1) The Stags need to dominate possession to starve Denver's offense in order to limit the exposure Fairfield's defense to the Pioneers' strongest unit (the focus here is on the Stags' work in clearing the ball (Denver's ride is a non-factor) and the team's work on the whistle); (2) The offense -- led by Sam Snow -- needs to have a day against a manageable Denver defense (if Fairfield can starve the Pioneers' offense and put together a handful of two-goal runs, the Stags shift the burden to Denver to excel); and (3) Fairfield needs to limit mistakes -- control turnovers (the Stags have been decent at this in 2013) and dominate groundballs (these are value-added aspects to the game; if the Stags can win the balance of these two metrics, they'll be in good shape). Fairfield is a decided 'dog in this game, but a Stags win isn't an impossibility.
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