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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Mount St. Mary's

It was a brutal season for The Mount.

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

MOUNT ST. MARY'S MOUNTAINEERS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 1-15 (1-5, NEC) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 6.25% 66
2013 Record 6-9 (2-3, NEC) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 40.00% 44
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 10.22% 67
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 36.69% 49
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -26.47% 63*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -14* 59*
Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation Overachieved/Underachieved -3.97% 42
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 18.67 66
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 32.21 18
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -13.54 63*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -44* 63*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 33.57 46
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 37.05 58
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +3.47 11*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +12* 14*
Downloadable Team Profile (.pdf) N/A N/A

*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

There wasn't much about Mount St. Mary's this season that is going to make people think of good times had at a petting zoo with unforgettable selfies taken with the goats. 2014 was an absolutely brutal season for the Mountaineers, a team that went through a major roster overhaul from 2013 and felt the effects of trying to replace its top ten point-generators from the 2013 season (in effect, Mount St. Mary's needed to find replacements for players that accounted for 96.33 percent of the team's points in their 2013 campaign). Yet, The Mount plugged along through a 14-game losing streak until the Mountaineers met Wagner in mid-April: Facing its best odds for victory on the year -- around 43 percent, well beyond the team's next-best 30 percent chance of victory against Manhattan (a one-goal defeat) -- Mount St. Mary's stung the Seahawks to the tune of a 9-5 win in Emmitsburg. Highlighting The Mount's defeat of Wagner looks like a backhanded compliment, but it's not: With a young roster and nothing to play for, the Mountaineers could have mailed in their penultimate game and accepted a winless season; there was nothing on the table for Mount St. Mary's at that stage of the season and any record mitigation would be minimal. The Mount, though, managed to drop an improved Wagner team and give the four cats that started at least 15 games for Mount St. Mary's in 2014 -- Bubba Johnson, Kyle O'Brien, Alex Stefkovich, and Nick Firman -- a taste of victory Gatorade.

Also -- only two teams played in fewer man-down postures and committed fewer penalties per 60 minutes of play than the Mountaineers. The Mount should be commended for its politeness, deserving of only the finest basket from Edible Arrangements.

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

The Mount's offense was icky. Given the offensive losses that the team suffered through from 2013 to 2014 this isn't all that surprising, but the Mountaineers were still at the very bottom of the nation in terms of offensive output and efficiency. What's especially disturbing about The Mount's offensive profile this season isn't that the team was one of the least accurate in Division I or that the team struggled to share the ball or that the Mountaineers' relied on man-up opportunities to score despite the fact that it rarely played offensive opportunities with the extra-attacker and wasn't all that strong at converting rare extra-man opportunities. It's that Mount St. Mary's not only shot themselves in the foot but also set off a nuclear explosion buried in the ground underneath them to make sure that their feet wouldn't survive:

THE BALL IS EVIL!
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 59.15 65
Turnover Margin -20.72 67
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 25.41 50
Opponent Caused Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 33.74 65
Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Opportunities 24.65 59
Run-of-Play Groundballs Margin -10.14 66

Lack of ball valuation should come with a nun rapping your knuckles with a ruler. Lack of ball valuation that is combined with an inability to corral loose balls should come with a robot nun rapping your knuckles with an iron pipe. Bad teams can't get away with negligence and nonfeasance, and The Mount suffered through that in notable ways this past spring. The good news is that a roster that featured 23 freshman and sophomores potentially got a lot of this out of its system last year; the bad news is that it's going to take a sizable amount of work to become a team that helps itself more than it hurts itself.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Mount St. Mary's had nine players start at least half of the team's games in 2014. Of those nine players, only two -- Chris Klaiber and Kyle McDonough -- have graduated. The Mount can build around the remaining core, returning four of the team's top five point generators from last season -- Bubba Johnson, Mark Johnoski, Clayton Wainer, and Mike Pascali -- while also returning three defenders -- Kyle O'Brien, Alex Stefkovich, and Nick Firman -- to anchor the team's defensive concerns (and those three defenseman helped the Mountaineers' defense improve from 2013 to 2014). These are assets that can form the foundation for growth, even if young sharks are trolling the waters smelling chum. The reality for The Mount is that there is no direction to go but up; 2014 was rock-bottom for a program that has more history than their 2014 campaign illustrated. A return toward the top of the Northeast Conference may be aggressive -- Bryant isn't moving and St. Joseph's doesn't look like a team that will take a step back in 2015 -- but the Mountaineers at least have pieces in place to create a little bit of momentum in conference play. Mount St. Mary's has a really hard climb ahead of them, but there are faint glimmers of hope on the horizon.