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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Yale

The Elis weren't invited to The Big Barbeque last spring.

Elsa

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2014 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 67 teams and their 2014 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

VITAL SIGNS

YALE BULLDOGS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 9-5 (3-3, Ivy) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 64.29% 20
2013 Record 12-5 (4-2, Ivy) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 70.59% 12
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 66.42% 16
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 72.79% 8
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -6.37% 49*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -8* 47*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 32.83 27
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 31.21 22
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +1.62 29*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -4* 40*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.17 17
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 25.01 8
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -3.15 49*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -9* 49*
Downloadable Team Profile (.pdf)

*These ranking values consider only the programs that competed in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Accordingly, Boston University, Furman, Monmouth, and Richmond are not considered.

"ATTA BOY!" FACT

Yale doesn't have an exceptionally deep lacrosse history and that tradition seems to impact how the Elis are perceived in the nation's hierarchy. Yet, the Bulldogs have been -- over the last four seasons -- one of the stronger programs in the nation, finding a defined and concrete position within the upper echelon of the nation's lacrosse concerns. In virtually every measure that attempts to utilize sound methods to determine the strength of teams, Yale has finished right around the top 15 in the nation in each of the last four campaigns that the team has undertaken:

YALE IS (MAYBE) WHO YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE (POSSIBLY)
YEAR ADJ. PYTH. RANKING LAXPOWER RANKING MASSEY RANKING KRACH RANKING AVERAGE
2014 16 13 20 16 16.25
2013 13 7 5 9 8.50
2012 16 14 13 16 14.75
2011
15 14 14 14.33

Since taking over the Bulldogs' program in 2004, Andy Shay has accelerated Yale's existence over recent years. The program has become not only an Ivy League threat -- the Bulldogs are one of two teams (Cornell is the other) to participate in every iteration of the conference's postseason tournament -- but also a dangerous menace at the national level: Only a handful of programs in Division I can claim multiple NCAA Tournament appearances over the last four years while averaging 11 wins per season and playing a top 20 schedule in a power league.

This isn't to imply that Yale is on the cusp of sipping brandy with the nation's bluest of bloods, but it is illustrative of the kind of momentum that the Bulldogs have going currently. 2014 was a "tough" season for the Elis, and it was still a campaign that was top 20 quality and consistent with the level of performance that Yale has developed in recent seasons. This isn't the program that Shay inherited over a decade ago, one that went 26-27 over his first four seasons in New Haven with a dreadful 7-17 mark against Ivy League opposition. This is something different; this is what a top 15 program in an era of leveraged competitiveness looks like.

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

Yale suffered five losses in 2014 by a total of six goals. That's like finding out that you failed the Connecticut bar exam because you applied New York law to all of the questions. Those five losses -- in totem and in specific part -- were the driving factors to the Bulldogs' exclusion from the NCAA Tournament last spring; inverting any of those results could have been enough to get the Elis through -- or at least in the conversation to push them through -- to The Big Barbeque. The gruesome part of all of this, of course, is that the five losses came to teams that weren't significantly stronger than Yale:

OOPS! I CRAPPED MY PANTS!
OPPONENT RESULT LAXPOWER PREDICTED GOAL DIFF. MASSEY WIN PROBABILITY LOG5
at Fairfield 11-12 (OT) (L) 0 51% 48.20%
at Cornell 9-11 (L) -1 38% 44.78%
Pennsylvania 5-6 (L) 0 46% 47.19%
Harvard 10-11 (L) +1 59% 56.51%
at Harvard 9-10 (L) 0 49% 56.51%

Oof!

The thing to take away from that table is simple: You will die. You can be a good person, give your time to charities, work really hard, call your grandmother once a week just because, go to church, exercise, and eat right, but you will still die. Death is undefeated. Death always wins. You can't beat death.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Yale will return about two-thirds of its starts from last season, suffering three major personnel departures going into 2015: Brandon Mangan, a combustion engine for the team, has vacated his position on attack; Dylan Levings, who drew at 58 percent in 2014, is no longer available to the Elis; and Jimmy Craft, who is responsible for this insanity, has relinquished his captaincy for the joy of paying bills and grocery shopping. Otherwise, the Elis return everything of consequence from a team that was on the cusp of having a longer May adventure. With 11 seniors providing experience and leadership for the Bulldogs this coming spring, Shay could return Yale to prominence in short order.