Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (33) Fairfield

Fairfield upset Denver in Colorado, but there weren't many other big highlights for the Stags in 2013.

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2013 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 63 teams and their 2013 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Fairfield Stags

2013 Record: 8-7 (4-3, ECAC)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.22 (19)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.66 (16)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -21.67%

2013 Efficiency Margin: -1.14 (33)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -1.73

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • There are two things about Fairfield that deserve note: (1) The back-to-back defeats of Denver and Air Force in mid-April to essentially push the Stags into the ECAC Tournament; and (2) The team's intelligence with the ball. As to the first "Yes, sir!" point: Fairfield was sitting at 2-2 in the ECAC before the Stags hosted Air Force and made the trip west to Denver; the team's postseason future was -- at that point -- fuzzy. Yet, Fairfield gutted out a tough 9-8 victory over Air Force (a game that saw the Falcons erase a four-goal halftime deficit, tie the game at eight with just 51 seconds remaining in regulation, and eventually bow to the Stags after a Jordan Greenfield goal with just 33 seconds left on the game clock) and then scooted out of Colorado with the biggest victory the program earned in 2013: A 10-9 overtime win against the Pioneers. Not only did Fairfield knock off the then top-ranked Pioneers, but the Stags did it in difficult circumstances: Fairfield had only one lead in the game before the game-winning goal (a 6-5 lead late in the third quarter and early into the final period), and the team needed to overcome the odds to celebrate with a Gatorade bath -- based on year-end performance metrics, the Stags had only a 29.61 percent chance of victory against the Pioneers. That's resilience in the face of adversity, and Fairfield came through it well. As for the team's ability to limit shotguns aimed at their feet, no team in the nation committed fewer unforced turnovers per offensive opportunity than the Stags. Considering that this was a team that ranked just 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency on the season, faced a difficult schedule, and played with a small possession deficit (about a half-possession margin in favor of their opponents (33rd nationally)), Fairfield did a decent job at not ruining things for themselves.

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • Here are some ugly extra-man statistics for Fairfield:

    FAIRFIELD AND ITS DISDAIN FOR THE EXTRA-MAN: 2013
    METRIC VALUE RANK
    Opponent Penalties per 100 Opportunities 7.23 8th
    Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 14.57 4th
    Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 25.76% 54th
    Extra-Man Posture Reliance 12.69% 25th
    You can see it, right? Fairfield was playing with the personnel imbalance in their favor almost as much as any team in the nation, did a terrible job at actually taking advantage of those opportunities, and yet relied somewhat notably on those scenarios to can the bean. That's . . . interesting. Extra-man situations are excellent postures for team's that have a less-than-stellar time efficiently canning the bean to generate tallies; Fairfield falls into that description -- this is a team that ranked 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency and shot just 25.52 percent on the year -- and yet couldn't seem to find a way to substantially take advantage of personnel dispositions that could have erased (or at least eased) some of the team's offensive issues. Looking at the team's two one-goal losses (at North Carolina and home to Bellarmine), had the Stags converted at the national average (34.46 percent) while in man-up, the outcomes of the game could have been drastically different (Fairfield went 1-4 with the extra-man against the Tar Heels; 1-3 against the Knights).

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • Fairfield is developing a reputation as a team that is square in the middle of the country in terms of offensive strength, but has gotten to that point by either hitting pedestrian signs in the parking lot or attempting to burn through the opposition's goalie stick:

    FAIRFIELD'S OFFENSIVE SORCERY
    METRIC 2011 2012 2013
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.82 (22) 30.57 (25) 29.91 (30)
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.23 (1) 1.08 (19) 1.16 (18)
    Raw Offensive Shooting Percentage 23.40% (56) 27.45% (40) 25.52% (47)
    Opponent Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 35.96 (54) 38.45 (61) 35.54 (40)
    Opponent Saves Percentage 55.56% 56.39% 54.58% (41)
    Offensive Assist Rate 16.63 (24) 14.20 (48) 14.79 (48)
    Each program is different, but Fairfield is entrenched right now in an aggressive "GREEN LIGHT! TARGET LOCK! FOX TWO!" mentality where guys are attempting to get it on their own with a large swath of collateral shot damage as a residue. I think you'd see a sharp rise in the Stags' overall offensive efficiency with some stronger shooting accuracy, and I'm sure extra shooting practice is on Fairfield's agenda. It's just weird to see a team rank right in the center of the nation in terms of overall offensive strength and yet find residence among the bottom third of the nation in shooting and opponent save rate. That's just weird. Fairfield challenges opposing keepers to make stops; it'd just be nice to see them with stronger accuracy on their challenges. The impact here could be substantial.
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