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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Wagner

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TWO MOTHER-F'IN WINS FOR THE MOTHER-F'IN WAGNER FIGHTIN' VICTORYHAWKS!

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

WAGNER SEAHAWKS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 2-11 (0-6, NEC) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 15.38% 61
2013 Record 1-12 (0-5, NEC) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 7.69% 61
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 13.22% 64
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 12.49% 62
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +0.73% 31*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +2* 22*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 23.38 62
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 25.77 53
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -2.39 51*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -7* 45*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 38.64 63
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 41.26 63
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +2.62 15*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +3* 26*
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

The Seahawks eked out two wins in the same season for the first time since 2005, an impressive feat considering that going into the 2014 season Wagner had a total of four wins in their last eight campaigns. Simply winning games -- plural! -- is notable for the Seahawks, but how the team earned its victories is especially important:

  • Against Monmouth, Wagner outlasted the first-year Hawks to the tune of a 7-6 quadruple overtime victory. The Seahawks were in a true toss-up game with Monmouth and managed to turn an early three-goal deficit into an eventual win, stringing together four goals over the final 45 minutes of regulation while holding the Hawks scoreless from the 6:11 mark of the third quarter until 18 seconds remained in the fourth extra period (a 36:53 stretch). Wagner has been on the wrong end of these types of games in the past -- the team lost a memorable heartbreaker to VMI in overtime in 2012, a game where the Keydets knotted the scoreboard at 11 with only five seconds remaining in regulation -- but managed to find a way to win in a marathon of attrition against Monmouth.
  • The Seahawks held serve against VMI, earning a 7-6 victory on the road in Lexington. Wagner was a nominal favorite in the game, holding a 56.21 percent chance of victory in a log5 environment. Beating the Keydets doesn't necessarily permit a victory parade through the Camaro-lined streets of Staten Island, but Wagner still beat a team it was expected to defeat in circumstances that were just beyond a toss-up game. That shows some stones, especially considering that the Seahawks held VMI scoreless for the final 27:41 of the game.

It's not just that Wagner won two games, though: The Seahawks stepped up and made Vermont and Detroit pee their pants. Notable underdogs against both teams -- the Catamounts were a 79.36 percent favorite against Wagner in a log5 environment and the Titans were a 78.96 percent favorite against Wagner in the same metric -- the Seahawks fell to both teams by a goal (the loss to Vermont was in double overtime). Wagner was resilient in both games: The Seahawks turned a two-goal fourth quarter deficit into a tie game with 1:52 to play against Detroit, losing at the buzzer -- literally -- on a Mike Birney dynamite detonation; against the Catamounts, Wagner weather a seven-goal outburst from Vermont in the third and fourth quarters, pivoting from the storm to tie the game with a second left in regulation and force overtime. There's value in these losses, even if the efforts didn't impact the team's overall volition.

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

Despite the team's two wins in 2014, Wagner still Wagnered its way through the season. The team was bad, one of the five worst in Division I, and was equally poor at both the offensive and defensive ends of the field (although, the team's defense did find some improvement over 2013 in selected spots). It has become difficult to write words about Wagner's issues without becoming repetitious, but this fact is telling about the Seahawks' 2014 campaign: Only one player -- Patrick McMenamin -- earned recognition on the Northeast Conference's year-end all-league teams (McMenamin found a spot on the conference's all-rookie team). That's . . . that's a serious talent deficiency and performance problem that Wagner needs to overcome. It's not like the Seahawks are in a league loaded with top-end talent: The Northeast Conference ranked eighth nationally in overall conference strength; the two teams that put the most players on the league's first and second teams -- Bryant (7) and St. Joseph's (8) -- finished the year ranked 20th and 22nd nationally in adjusted Pythagorean win expectation, respectively.

The Northeast Conference isn't a suffocating landscape of carbon monoxide lollipops and phosgene potato chips. Wagner needs to start developing talent that can find a place among the league's stronger individual performers. Without a talent base that is worthy of all-league recognition in a weak league, the Seahawks will continue to exist on the periphery of relevance.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

2015 isn't likely to look much different than Wagner's past, but the program is at least trying to find some momentum. The program just hired Will Manny, the former Massachusetts lightning bolt that helped drive the Minutemen toward the top of the nation. Subject to coaching departures, that should give Wagner a full staff. Coming on the heels of the Seahawks hiring Ryan Browning as a full time assistant prior to the 2014 season, the Seahawks are showing some effort in trying to elevate their program. Wagner is still on the first rung of the Division I hierarchy, but something is happening on Grymes Hill.