Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (24) Air Force

US PRESSWIRE

The Falcons had some heat behind them to start the year but meandered to a .500 record.

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: Air Force Falcons

2013 Record: 7-7 (2-5, ECAC)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -1.85 (46)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -2.13 (52)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +3.85%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 2.22 (24)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +0.10

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Service academies, compared to their competitive peers, have all kinds of different circumstances to deal with that make their lives more difficult than that of their opponents: Finding athletes that want to pursue a career in the armed forces, and within that subset, identifying athletes that (a) can academically qualify, (b) maintain eligibility, (c) conform to academy standards, (d) handle the time management situation of playing Division I athletics, and (e) develop athletically while the academy simultaneously restricts the amount of extra time that the athletes can spend on the athletic field doing voluntary work. Those are painfully hard factors to deal with, and while both West Point and Annapolis are operating in a similar atmosphere, Air Force has an additional hurdle to overcome: It's located in freaking Colorado Springs, light years away from lacrosse's headquarters. And yet, despite all of these circumstances that should push the Falcons to the bottom of Division I lacrosse's hierarchy (or at least create notable variances in performance), Air Force continues to position itself right around the top half of the nation. Eric Seremet doesn't get enough credit for what he's done in Colorado since taking over for Fred Acee in 2009: With the exception of a miserable 1-13 effort in 2010, Seremet has seemingly succeeded where failure lurked, finding a level of consistency that other programs (with less difficult institutional problems to conquer) would beg for:

    CRUISING AT ALTITUDE
    METRIC 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    Pythagorean Win Expectation 43.89% (28) 24.85% (54) 46.78% (34) 55.71% (25) 55.75% (23)
    Adjusted Efficiency Margin -2.01 (28) -8.43 (53) -1.09 (34) 2.12 (26) 2.22 (24)
    Record 7-7 (4-1) 1-13 (0-7) 6-7 (3-3) 6-7 (1-5) 7-7 (2-5)
    Strength of Schedule: Efficiency Margin -1.36 (39) 0.56 (21) -1.91 (54) -2.13 (51) -1.85 (46)
    There's something to be said about delivering the mail as scheduled when every block you need to walk is full of pet lions let loose by the owners after weeks of failing to feed them lion food (I don't know where this exists in America, but you get the point). Air Force has built a solid foundation under Seremet -- not exceptional, but far from disastrous -- that often gets overlooked. Which begs the question: Are the Falcons really without a future conference home just because they're in Colorado Springs? Conference realignment, everyone!

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

  • After a season-opening loss to North Carolina, Air Force ripped off four straight wins, including a huge upset of Lehigh in Bethlehem (Matt Poillon did not play that day). While the Falcons' then-record was somewhat soft given the competition faced, the win over the Mountain Hawks may have signaled that Air Force was ready to take a step forward in the ECAC: With the entirety of its league slate in the Falcons' windshield, Air Force was potentially riding a wave of momentum that could have altered the team's season. It wouldn't come together, though: After a maddening two-goal loss to Marquette at home, Air Force crashed through its league schedule, going a weak 2-5 against conference competition (defeating only Hobart and Michigan). It's four of those league losses, however, that are the most important:

    DRATS!
    OPPONENT AIR FORCE CHANCE OF VICTORY FINAL SCORE
    at Bellarmine 51.84% 10-11
    at Denver 37.30% 10-11 (OT)
    at Fairfield 58.58% 8-9
    Ohio State 42.83% 9-10
    So, against superior competition -- games in which Air Force were underdogs but played above their head (or at least circumstances bent in their favor) -- the Falcons couldn't seem to close and bag a big win (something it was capable of, as the win against Lehigh proved)); winning those games could have changed the atmosphere in Air Force's locker room and potentially changed the team's overall volition. Against competition that was either at Air Force's level or lagging behind, the Falcons couldn't drop the hammer and earn the most important variety of conference victories -- ones that were available against like or somewhat inferior competition. The combination of these two outcomes, and the fact that the results constituted almost 60 percent of the Falcons' conference games, illustrates Air Force's biggest problem this season: Existing within the ECAC and making razor-thin differences work in their favor.

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

  • Streakiness and unsustained league campaigns have become warts on Air Force's efforts. In 2013, Air Force rattled off five consecutive wins and then suffered through a four-game losing streak, going just 2-5 in ECAC play; in 2012, the Falcons put together two three-game win streaks but also closed their season win three consecutive league losses; in 2011, the team couldn't earn a single three-game winning streak and suffered a three-game losing streak before the calendar turned to April. Finding a way to consistently win and mitigate extended periods of losing would do wonders for a program that has maintained competitive strength under Seremet.
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