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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Dartmouth

Keggy the Keg didn't have much to pour for this season.

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

DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 2-10 (0-6, Ivy) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 16.67% 60
2013 Record 3-11 (1-5, Ivy) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 21.43% 57
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 24.90% 58
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 35.15% 51
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -10.25% 55*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -6* 44*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 26.76 55
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 24.22 60
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +2.54 29*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +6* 23*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 33.43 46
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.21 19
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -5.22 58*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -26* 60*
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

Running with an offense ranked toward the bottom of the country probably isn't grounds for having a pizza party. Looking at Dartmouth's particular situation, though, there is some reason to celebrate what the team did on the offensive end of the field in 2014: (1) The team did improve its offensive efficiency from 2013 to 2014, even if the improvement wasn't drastic; and (2) The team's improvement in offensive efficiency occurred despite the fact that four underclassmen -- freshman or sophomores -- populated 80 percent of the team's top five point generators in 2014. This reliance on underclass performers to make the scoreboard blink is pretty notable, even if the overall strength of those performers ranks poorly relative to the rest of the nation.

This foursome of underclassmen -- Jack McCormick (A); KC Beard (M); Billy Heidt (M); and Wiley Osborne (A) -- managed to complement Mike Olentine at attack and Patrick Resch through the midfield, accounting for 38.10 percent of the team's total points, 39.39 percent of Dartmouth's total goals, 31.18 percent of the team's total shots, and shot 27.86 percent as a group (five percent better than the Green as a whole). That's a lot of pressure and usage localized to a core of underclassmen, a group that had a total of 19 Division I game appearances prior to 2014 (the group had 48 combined appearances this past season). Considering the team's totality of circumstances, the Green's youthful offensive core managed to accomplish some impressive work in circumstances that were less than conducive to generating improvement year-over-year.

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

Dartmouth's goaltending never stood much of a chance in 2014. The apocalyptic scenario for any team is getting uneven performance from the crease combined with a high volume or ratio of shots that are preferable for opposing offenses. That's exactly what the Green faced in 2014, exacerbated further by the fact that Dartmouth faced a solid slate of opposing offenses:

WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.08 24
Shots on Goal per Defensive Opportunity 0.64 29
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 59.27% 42
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 32.26% 63
Raw Defensive Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 54.42% 63
Defensive Assist Rate 20.26 59
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 29.19 57
Team Save Percentage 45.58% 63
Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 32.37 18

Blair Friedensohn took most of Dartmouth's beatings in the cage this season, starting 11 of the Green's dozen games and playing almost 81 percent of the Big Green's total game minutes. Friedensohn struggled to hold a 48.1 save percentage while facing 402 shots (that's more shots than Denver's keepers saw on the season), many of which were from impossible-to-stop locations given Dartmouth's poor defensive assist rate value. The options behind Friedensohn weren't all that great, either: Ham Sonnenfeld earned almost 100 minutes of action between the pipes but held only a 37.8 save percentage; no other keeper had more than 60 minutes in the crease for Dartmouth.

The team's goalkeeping wasn't the reason that the Big Green's defense significantly regressed from 2013 to 2014, but it was a big part of the defensive circumstances that Dartmouth created last spring. The loss of Bernie Susskind obviously impacted Dartmouth's goalkeeping reality, swapping out a cat that helped the Green suffocate opponents -- to a degree -- with a sophomore that saw less than five minutes of game action in his first season. 2014 wasn't going to be as strong for the Green in the cage as 2013 was, but the freefall that the team experienced was stunning. This past season was just as ugly from a goalkeeping standpoint as the numbers imply, a massive ceiling-limiter that was also impacted by a field defense that yielded looks that the unit couldn't afford to permit given the team's performance aspects in the crease.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Andy Towers' tenure at Dartmouth is over. After five years as the Big Green's head coach and an aggregate record of 20-47 (Towers never had a non-losing season in Hanover), Dartmouth is in the market for some new blood to try and find a way to get the Green out of the basement of the Ivy League (the last time that Dartmouth didn't finish last or tied for last in the conference was in 2010; the last time that the Big Green finished with at least a .500 record in Ivy League play was 2008). The difficulty, though, for whoever Dartmouth tabs to lead the program is multi-dimensional: (1) There isn't necessary a side of the field to build from, with the Green's offense and defense needing similar levels of attention; (2) The lack of consistent success that the program has had over the last decade requires culture implementation that isn't going to happen overnight; and (3) Moving forward in the Ivy League is a real pain in the ass. There are significant hurdles that Dartmouth is going to need to clear before things start to focus for the Green.