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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Marquette

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We're all in Joe Amplo's orbit.

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

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

MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 6-10 (4-2, Big East) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 37.50% 47
2013 Record 5-8 (Independent) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 38.46% 46
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 42.35% 44
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 26.77% 55
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +15.58% 7*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +11* 8*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 33.30 23
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.07 46
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +5.23 9*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +23* 3*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 34.92 55
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 36.70 57
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +1.78 20*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +4* 24*
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

In Marquette's first full season as a true Big East Conference member, the Eagles earned four league wins -- against Rutgers, St. John's, Providence, and Georgetown -- by a total of four goals. That's an insane level of "We got this!" for a program that has existed for, like, half a minute. The wins propelled Marquette to the Big East Tournament's second seed, but the interesting aspect of the victories was the way in which the Golden Eagles seemed to slow time and bend reality in their favor:

PRESSURE MAKES DIAMONDS
OPPONENT RESULT LOG5 LAXPOWER PREDICTED GOAL DIFF.
at Rutgers 14-13 (W) 36.80% -2
at St. John's 11-10 (W) (2OT) 42.08% -2
Providence 7-6 (W) 56.00% +1
Georgetown 11-10 (W) (OT) 61.26% +2

It takes the brassiest of balls to win games like that, especially for a team that doesn't have an established history of tenured players to turn difficult and tight situations into circumstances conducive to victories. Marquette was an underdog in two road games and bolted town with wins; in two other games at home in Milwaukee, the Eagles took care of business where they should have done so. It's almost scary how proficient Marquette was at closing in 2014 in the majority of its Big East dates, and the details of the team's four above-referenced victories are evidence of that fact:

  • Against the Scarlet Knights, the Eagles scored with 16 seconds remaining in regulation after seeing Rutgers knot the scoreboard at 13 with 47 seconds left on the clock. Marquette trailed for a mere nine seconds against the favored Knights and answered every rush from Rutgers with a push of their own.
  • Against St. John's, the Eagles held Kieran McArdle -- the Major League Lacrosse rookie of the year -- to three points and no goals. Marquette never trailed St. John's and earned the game-winning goal in the second overtime after overcoming a lightning-quick three-goal surge from the Johnnies in the fourth period that locked up the scoreboard.
  • Against Providence, Marquette held Andrew Barton and Sean Wright to two total points and never trailed the Friars. What made the win especially impressive was that the Eagles survived a 20:34 scoring drought that extended from the third period until the final gun.
  • Against Georgetown, the Eagles trailed the Hoyas by six goals at the 8:36 mark of the third period. Marquette then exploded, tallying eight of the game's next nine goals, holding the Hoyas to just one goal in a 24:30 stretch. Ryan McNamara bagged the game-winning goal 54 seconds into the overtime period, completing a monster comeback by the Golden Eagles.

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

I'm not sure if Marquette has the ugliest goalkeeping profile among Division I teams from last spring, but it definitely isn't pretty:

ICKY!
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 25.99 67
Team Save Percentage 41.46% 67
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.13 34
Shots on Goal per Defensive Opportunity 0.63 25
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 55.54% 9
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 32.51% 65
Raw Defensive Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 58.54% 67

Goalkeeping doesn't exist in a vacuum, and the Eagles' field defense factors -- at least in part -- to the team's uneven netminding situation. However, these are brutal goaltending figures: Marquette's keepers didn't see an inordinate number of shots on a per-possession basis but weren't able to get their crosse or body on a high volume of shots that were on cage. This is notably apparent when examining Marquette's goaltending performances against its five best opponents in terms of their adjusted offensive efficiencies:

BLOOD
OPPONENT MARQ. SV. % MARQ. SV/100 D.POSS.
Marist 11.11% 5.41
Duke 25.93% 17.95
St. John's 50.00% 34.48
Notre Dame 42.86% 37.50
Denver 29.17% 23.33
Average 31.81% 23.73

It isn't a coincidence that the best performance that Marquette got out of the net from this select group -- the game against St. John's -- was the only win that the Eagles earned among these teams (Marquette's aggregate goal differential in these games was -27 with an average goal differential of almost 5.5 goals).

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Marquette will need to replace Bryan Badolato, Tyler Melnyk, and Jerry Nobile going into 2015, but much remains for Joe Amplo to unleash on the Big East next spring: 88.75 percent of the Eagles' starts from last season should return to Hart Park next year, including four of the team's top six point generators from a season ago. If Marquette can find some stability in the cage and a faceoff presence that helps tilt some of the team's possession woes, the Eagles could once again contend for a Big East Tournament invitation while curbstomping some opponents along the way.