Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (14) Yale

Elsa

Lax et vertias.

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: Yale Bulldogs

2013 Record: 12-5 (4-2, Ivy)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 3.84 (1)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.56 (7)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +1.84%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 5.79 (14)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +1.57

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • 12 wins aren't 12 wins aren't 12 wins. You're living in a cockamamie reality if you think that similar records mean that teams earned the victories in similar ways. With respect to Yale, what the Elis accomplished en route to a dozen wins is almost insane: Against arguably the most difficult schedule in the nation, the Bulldogs put up 12 victories against only five losses (those losses by a total of six goals) and were minutes away from advancing to Championship Weekend riding an iron rocket and fearing nothing in the future. What Yale endured in 2013 approaches the ridiculous, a tale that cowboys will eventually tell while sitting around a fire and cooking beans (if cowboys even follow college lacrosse):

    YALE'S VOYAGE TO IMPOSSIBLELAND
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 32.84 3
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced 29.00 5
    Strength of Schedule: Efficiency Margin 3.84 1
    Strength of Schedule: Pythagorean Win Expectation 59.55% 2
    That's a decent overview of the Elis slate, but it's the nitty gritty that makes you appreciate what Andy Shay was able to accomplish despite mind-bendingly difficult circumstances:

    YALE'S VOYAGE TO IMPOSSIBLELAND: THE NITTY GRITTY
    OPPONENT FINAL SCORE OPPONENT ADJ. OFF. EFF. OPPONENT ADJ. DEF. EFF. OPPONENT ADJ. EFF. MARGIN
    St. John's 9-10 (L) 39.50 (3) 35.03 (49) 4.47 (19)
    Albany 15-6 (W) 37.39 (7) 32.75 (38) 4.65 (17)
    Sacred Heart 14-6 (W) 29.37 (37) 37.64 (55) -8.27 (52)
    Fairfield 12-8 (W) 29.91 (30) 31.05 (30) -1.14 (33)
    Cornell 10-12 (L) 38.88 (4) 24.22 (4) 14.66 (1)
    Princeton 9-10 (L) 38.51 (6) 29.97 (23) 8.54 (8)
    Pennsylvania 7-6 OT (W) 30.43 (23) 22.46 (1) 7.97 (9)
    Providence 13-6 (W) 30.03 (28) 33.53 (44) -3.49 (35)
    Dartmouth 7-5 (W) 23.89 (60) 28.40 (19) -4.51 (40)
    Brown 11-8 (W) 28.00 (44) 24.86 (7) 3.14 (21)
    Stony Brook 11-10 OT (W) 33.99 (13) 32.40 (35) 1.59 (25)
    Maryland 7-8 (L) 34.46 (12) 25.68 (12) 8.78 (6)
    Harvard 11-10 (W) 29.99 (29) 29.47 (22) 0.52 (29)
    Pennsylvania 9-6 (W) 30.43 (23) 22.46 (1) 7.97 (9)
    Princeton 12-8 (W) 38.51 (6) 29.97 (23) 8.54 (8)
    Penn State 10-7 (W) 29.82 (33) 24.54 (6) 5.28 (15)
    Syracuse 6-7 (L) 35.22 (9) 25.39 (9) 9.83 (3)
    Yale not only survived this schedule but also improved over 2012, a fact that should provide the Bulldogs with pancake breakfasts for life and, like, special privileges to where pajamas in public. No team in the nation did as well as Yale in the universe that the Elis needed to exist; there just isn't an analogue anywhere else in the country.

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

  • The decompression countdown is approaching the area where there isn't a lot of really ugly stuff to kvetch about for the remaining teams (Yale included). You can make a case that Yale could have gotten a little more consistency between the pipes over the course of the season, but that would ignore what Eric Natale was able to do in the crease for the Elis as Yale's season reached its apex. You could also argue that the Bulldogs overachieved by about a game (the team's Pythagorean win expectation shows Yale as an 11-win team), but that ignores the fact that the Bulldogs dropped a game to St. John's that Yale likely would have won had it been played at some point other than the sunrise to the Elis' season (Yale finished the year looking like a 57-43 favorite over the Johnnies). Yale was exactly what it was in 2013: A strong lacrosse team in the upper reaches of Division I's hierarchy. There just isn't a lot to shake your head at when looking at the Bulldogs' season. I guess if you wanted to pick out something that tarnished the Elis' season it'd be the one-goal losses and a difficulty in closing games: The loss to Syracuse was heartbreaking (Yale lead Syracuse 6-5 with under three minutes to play and had frustrated the Orange all day, eventually succumbing to Syracuse with 13 seconds left on the clock), the defeat at the hands of Maryland came when the Terrapins were meandering toward the end of their season (the Bulldogs yielded the game-winning goal with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation), Yale charged back from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to almost drop Princeton in mid-March but couldn't finish the job, and the Elis were -- as noted -- arguably stronger than St. John's, but gave up the game-winning goal with just under a minute left to play.

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

  • Yale is arguably experiencing its strongest play in program history; what Shay has done in New Haven the last few seasons is remarkable given the Elis' uneven lacrosse tradition. Whatever Shay is shoveling down Yale's throat is working, and the consistency that the team has shown is indicia that the Bulldogs have little intention of moving down the Ivy League's ladder. If there's any concern or issue about Yale in 2014, it's whether the Bulldogs are prepared to replace important assets in Kirby Zdrill, Peter Johnson, and Michael McCormack (the two defensemen, especially). Otherwise, the "fix" is to let Shay continue to crush faces as he sees fit.
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