Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (40) Dartmouth

The Big Green still have a long way to go in the Ivy League.

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: Dartmouth Big Green

2013 Record: 3-11 (1-5, Ivy)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -2.47 (10)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.39 (33)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -14.28%

2013 Efficiency Margin: -4.51 (40)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -1.90

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • When Dartmouth beat Princeton in mid-April (a 10-9 victory for the Big Green in New Hampshire), I slowly backed away from my computer, unsure of the sorcery it was showing me. It's a stretch to say that Dartmouth had no business beating the Tigers (crazy brain worms are infesting college lacrosse, man (and Dartmouth did beat a superior Colgate team last season)), but it was -- and I'm choosing my words carefully here -- unexpected: Entering that game, the Big Green were just 2-8, suffering through a six-game losing streak (against some admittedly strong competition). Yet, Dartmouth pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, dropping Princeton -- ranked ninth in the media poll and eighth in the coaches poll going into the game -- in impressive fashion: Down 7-5 at the half, the Big Green used a three-goal run over the final 6:43 of the third quarter and the first 5:49 of the fourth quarter to draw even with the Tigers at eight; then, after falling behind 8-9 following a Jake Froccaro goal with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, Dartmouth ripped off two goals in the latter stages of the final period to pull out the improbable victory (what would be its third and final victory of the season). LaxPower ranked Dartmouth's upset of Princeton as the fourth most unlikely of the year (as bonkers as Hobart's defeat of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome); based on year-end performance metrics, the Big Green had only a 21.19 percent chance of victory against the Tigers. It's somewhat odd to consider an Ivy League conference game as being part of the most ridiculous upsets of the seasons, but what Dartmouth pulled off in Hanover qualifies the victory as just that.

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

  • Entering Dartmouth's 2013 campaign, Andy Towers had won exactly five games in each of his seasons as the Big Green's head coach (Towers assumed control of the program starting in the 2010 season). It's one of the weirder "streaks" in Division I lacrosse, and I'm not exactly sure how to explain it -- Dartmouth seems stuck as a 5-8/5-9 kind of team despite factors that almost necessarily create fluctuations in actual wins per year. This past year, though, the streak broke (kind of): The Big Green finished the year with a disappointing three victories, the lowest number of Gatorade bath-generating wins that Dartmouth has experienced since a 3-9 effort in 1993. It's notable that the Big Green finished with just a handful of victories, but it's more important to understand that Dartmouth arguably underachieved in 2013: The team's Pythagorean win expectation illustrates that the Big Green were actually closer to a five-win kind of team. (So, the streak kind of continues!) For Dartmouth, a program that doesn't have an especially distinguished history (the program claims just two Ivy League regular season championships (1964 and 2003) and one NCAA Tournament appearance (2003)), wins can't be left on the table; finding a way to beat Georgetown (a 9-10 loss), Hartford (a 7-8 loss), and Holy Cross (a 10-11 loss) -- teams that were comparable to Dartmouth based on performance metrics -- changes the volition (and appearance) of the Big Green's efforts. Dartmouth needed to find a way to win those games, but instead left with difficult losses. Dartmouth hasn't finished a season with a .500 record since 2008; failing to grab victories where they're available for the taking is part of the problem. 2013 was a great example of that for the Big Green.

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

  • The story here is similar to the story in 2012: Generating and maximizing offensive opportunities. Dartmouth has work to do to clean up its offensive performance, but what may help that is an increase in the team's ability to clear (the Big Green ranked 37th in clearing rate in 2013 at 85.53 percent) and its ability to win draws (the Big Green won just 44.44 percent of their faceoffs in 2013, 51st nationally). Better performance in those two areas erodes the minus-2.25 possession deficit that the team faced this past season, allowing for its offense to rely on some volume to generate tallies and keep games close. Or, of course, Dartmouth's offense could start executing at a higher level, but now we're in chicken-egg territory and I'm already losing my focus over here.
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