I don't know why I'm obsessed with Wagner lacrosse. I have no attachment to the university and don't particularly care for Staten Island (still the Fiero capital of the universe). Yet, I find myself drawn to the Seahawks year-in and year-out. I think it's because I think of Wagner like a rescue dog: They've been through hell -- beaten, tired, and oftentimes forgotten -- and just need a little love and happiness in their life.
The program's history -- 14 years of wandering through the unknown -- backs this up:
|YEAR||RECORD||LAXPOWER RANKING||LAXPOWER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKING||WINS|
|2002||3-10||53/55||55/55||CCNY (D-III); Binghamton; Siena|
|2005||2-12||54/55||54/55||Lafayette; Robert Morris|
Let's be clear about this:
- Wagner has just 12 wins in 14 seasons of Division I lacrosse play, two of those victories coming against a Division III program -- CCNY. The team's average record in this span is 1-13. Moreover, of the teams 10 wins over Division I opponents, three -- against Siena in 2002 and 2003; against Robert Morris in 2005 -- came against a team rated below Wagner in LaxPower's ratings. That's . . . I just want to flip Wagner over on its back and rub its belly forever.
- In just six seasons over the last 14 has Wagner finished higher than dead last in LaxPower's Division I ratings. In the six seasons that the Seahawks finished higher than the lowest position possible, Wagner finished second-lowest in the nation. The team’s highest ranking, relative to the rest of Division I, came in 2002 when Wagner finished 53rd out of 55 teams. That kind of consistency in struggling is almost unimaginable given the development arc that many teams have experienced since 2000. The sun doesn't shine on the same dog's ass every day, but Wagner's ass has been in the bitter cold of the shadows for far too long.
- The Seahawks have experienced five winless seasons since 2000 and three consecutive winless seasons between 2006 and 2008. Every dog has its day, but Wagner has been to the veterinarian more than any dog in the history of history.
- The program's best single-season winning percentage is 23.08 percent, a mark achieved in 2002 when the team went 3-10. Its second-best mark is 14.29 percent, achieved through a 2-12 effort in 2005. The team's average single-season winning percentage in the last 10 seasons is 4.97 percent. That's a lot of nosing through the trash.
- The Seahawks have accumulated a 12-181 record (10-181 record against Division I competition) over the last 14 years despite playing agendas that rank among the easiest in the nation. Wagner hasn't struggled to learn basic commands like sit and fetch; it's struggling to learn to breathe.
The Seahawks make you feel something, be it empathy or confusion. There are lots of reasons for Wagner's difficulty in climbing from the depths of Division I lacrosse, but those reasons are less important than the fact that the Seahawks draw attention by simply avoiding any semblance of the spotlight. This is unique in college lacrosse, an odd circumstance that remains static when it should -- theoretically -- at least maintain some sort of variance.
2014 could provide a sort of transition for Wagner. Matt Poskay -- the team's third-year head coach -- now has at his disposal a full-time paid assistant, helping move the Seahawks into the reality of Division I lacrosse in the modern era of the game. The team also returns Griffen LeClaire to its attack, an All-NEC Rookie Team inclusion in 2013. And, most important of all, Wagner showed improvement from 2012 to 2013 in many areas:
- The team's offense generated about five more goals on a 100-possession basis (adjusted for competition faced) compared to 2012.
- The Seahawks' defense yielded about three fewer goals over a 100-possession basis (adjusted for competition faced).
- The team didn't change its Pythagorean win expectation value ranking from 2012 to 2013, but Wagner's Pythagorean win expectation value rose from 7.35 percent to 15.47 percent.
There is a spark of life on Staten Island, even if the Seahawks remain a team that gets its teeth kicked in more often than not. Show some love for Wagner, even if it they have an odd gait and a weird disposition.