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ECAC Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Fairfield

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Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the ECAC Tournament.

I'm going to put it all on the table right now: I have no freaking clue what to think about Fairfield. Years from now scientists will look at this Fairfield team and write a scientific essay about them with the conclusion, "Yeah, so, who knows?" The Stags have played four overtime games this season, beat Denver, hung tough with Loyola, and just got hammered by Ohio State. This is as much a .500 team as it is a .786 one, which makes me wonder whether Fairfield is just an elaborate mind-game established by the government to make me frown with confusion.

Anyway, here's the heat on Fairfield.

Fairfield Stags: Three-Seed

For a more complete, mind-bending picture, here's a .pdf of the complete report.

Record 11-3 (4-2) Clear % 82.57% (42)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 30.51 (26) Opp. Clear % 83.87% (32)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 28.95 (28) Faceoff % 59.75% (5)
Poss. Percentage 52.98% (9) Pace 62.20 (49)
Off. Poss./60 min. 32.96 (29)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 29.25 (5)
Save Percentage 56.2%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.38 (8) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 26.00% (15) Goal Differential +18
Opp. Effective Sht. % 26.49% (15) Shooting % 28.51% (32)
Def. Assist Rate 17.46 (35) Effective Sht. % 29.285 (36)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.11 (43) Assist Rate 14.23 (48)
Man-Down Conversion % 29.79% (23) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.08 (54)
Man-Down Reliance 0.11 (28) EMO Conversion % 34.21% (36)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.22 (29) EMO Reliance 0.09 (49)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.45 (24)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.40 (61)

Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Fairfield is doing well in the possession margin metric this season and it's due almost exclusively to one fact: Mike Roe (not the one that tries to sell you crappy jeans, vehicles, and jobs) has been a crushing force at the dot this year, winning 62.2 percent of his attempts. He's been a horse on the whistle and it's paying dividends for an offensive unit that kind of needs volumized possessions to make lights blink on the scoreboard. Against Ohio State, Roe should have a pretty good day -- the Buckeyes, as a team, are only winning around 46 percent of their attempts -- although if Fairfield should advance to the ECAC final Roe is going to have rough road to travel: Chase Carraro is a beast at the stripe for Denver and Loyola, while not dominate, is still ranked 20th nationally in face-off percentage. If Roe can't create those offensive possessions that Fairfield so desperately needs, the Stags could be in a pile of it.
  • Sam Snow, Brent Adams, and John Snellman are pretty good offensive talents and have the ability to wreck defensive dreams with rainbow- and balloon-killing deathrays, but, on a whole, this Fairfield team doesn't shoot all that well. The raw offensive shooting rate is indicative of that, but there's another metric that really emphasizes this fact: No team sees there opponent save more shots per possession than Fairfield (and it really isn't even close). Opponent keepers hold a 57.0 save percentage against the Stags and a big reason for that is that Fairfield isn't sharing the ball all that well offensively (the team's offensive assist rate is 13th-worst in the country). If you can't get the ball to cats in preferred shooting locations and you're, instead, settling for saveable shots, shooting rate and, connectedly, offensive efficiency is going to plummet. It's not like Fairfield has played a murderer's row of defensive teams (the Stags' strength of schedule with an eye toward defenses faced is only ranked 32nd in the country), it's that this Stags offensive unit isn't all that unstoppable. This is uniquely odd for a team that deflates the pace of play and still wins lots of games.
  • Outside of the general statistical malaise that is Fairfield's profile, there's one other thing here that sticks out: Only eight teams yield more shots per defensive possession than Fairfield. This hasn't necessarily been a bad thing for the Stags this season -- the shooting rate on those attempts isn't particularly high -- but against offensive teams like Loyola and Denver in the ECAC Tournament (should Fairfield advance), this could cause some issues. When you also combine it with the fact that the Stags are only average defensively at limiting assists (a signpost for schematic execution), you have to wonder whether Fairfield's leniency in shot allowance combined with many instances of those shots coming from preferred shooting locations is going to burn them out in Colorado. It's one thing to rely on Charlie Cipriano to clean up any mess between the pipes (he holds a 56.6 save percentage on the year), and he's answered the bell this season, but he's standing before the firing line and being asked to carry a somewhat heavy water bucket.

For more on Fairfield's opponent -- Ohio State -- check out the Buckeyes' profile here.