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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Marist

A trip to the MAAC Tournament championship highlighted the Foxes' 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

MARIST RED FOXES
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 6-9 (3-3, MAAC) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 40.00% 43
2013 Record 10-4 (5-1, MAAC) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 71.43% 10
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 44.15% 41
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 59.12% 22
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -14.97% 59*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -19* 62*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 34.78 16
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 30.77 26
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +4.00 17*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +10* 18*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 37.56 61
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 29.42 24
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -8.15 62*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -34* 63*
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

Marist lost a ton of bodies from the 2013 iteration of the Red Foxes. While the team's expected winning percentage plunged at a rate that ranked among the worst in the nation, Marist managed to pull together a pretty solid campaign, going 3-3 in MAAC conference play and advancing to the MAAC Tournament championship. Many programs that are substantially similar to the Red Foxes go through incredible struggles after losing 13 -- !!!!!!! -- seniors from their roster, including six former studs that started every game for Marist in 2013. 2014 was a massive year of transition for Keegan Wilkinson's program and Marist managed to mitigate the loss of momentum that the program has been building since the 2010 season.

There are some somewhat impressive areas of improvement that the team experienced from 2013 to 2014:

  • Connor Rice, Jack Doherty, and Jim Marks accounted for 41.32 percent of the team's goals in 2013, 53.54 percent of the Red Foxes' assists, 45.86 percent of Marist's points, and 40.80 percent of the team's total shots. These were major cogs to an offense that ranked 26th in adjusted offensive efficiency a season ago. Rice and Doherty were two of the better offensive weapons that Marist has had in its history, players that aren't easily replaceable. And yet, the Red Foxes' offense was more efficient in 2014 than it was in 2013, improving its production year-over-year. Into the vacuum that Rice, Doherty, and Marks left stepped J.D. Recor (a freshman), Joseph Radin (a sophomore), and Colin Joka (a junior that took only 11 shots in 2013), a trio that actually shouldered similar or greater loads -- based on percentage of goals (54.55 percent), assists (60.27 percent), points (56.30 percent), and shots (38.70 percent) -- compared to what Rice, Doherty, and Marks did in 2013. "Next man up!" doesn't always work well for programs that reside outside of the hyper-elite. The Red Foxes had little issue with that in 2014.
  • Marist earned about 35 percent of its offensive opportunities from faceoff victories in 2013; Matt Dugan -- who steadied the Red Foxes at the dot with a 55.3 faceoff win rate while taking 75 percent of the team's total draws -- graduated prior to the 2014 season. The Red Foxes' response: Increasing the ratio of offensive opportunities earned through faceoff wins -- up to 45.06 percent -- while also experiencing a slight uptick in faceoff victory strength (Marist won 54.12 percent of their attempts in 2014 -- compared to 53.12 percent in 2013 -- and saw Dominic Montemurro win 55.1 percent of his attempts while taking 91.75 percent of the team's total attempts at the whistle).
  • Despite losing three of five players that took at least 20 shots and had a raw shooting rate of at least 30.00 percent, the Red Foxes' accuracy in 2014 was comparable to what it was in 2013: 28.90 percent to 28.99 percent. That's despite the fact that in 2014 Marist had only three players -- Recor, Radin, and Joka -- that shot above 30.00 percent (Joka shot an insane 47.9 percent) and took at least 20 shots.

There were, of course, areas where the Red Foxes regressed between seasons, but Marist did manage to stay afloat after losing a ton of leadership after the 2013 season. This was a team that was more 7-8 than 6-9 based on adjusted Pythagorean win expectation, and the team's transition strength in numerous areas supports the smaller decrease in actual winning percentage from season-to-season compared to what the Red Foxes were expected to do based on actual on-field production.

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

Marist's defensive regression was atrocious, but part of that is attributable to losing the team's entire starting close defense from the 2013 season. Spending words on that fall seems wasteful, so I'm going to look at something else: The team's four-game losing streak that stretched from mid-March to early-April. The Red Foxes started the slide with two home losses and finished with two defeats on the road, but it's the nature of the losses -- Marist was expected to win two, expected to lose one, and in a toss-up game in the fourth -- that is especially interesting:

A COCOON OF HORROR
OPPONENT RESULT LOG5
Brown 11-13 (L) 47.44%
Manhattan 13-14 (L) 74.13%
at Detroit 11-12 (L) 58.04%
at Hofstra 10-15 (L) 34.15%

A log5 analysis shows that Marist was expected to have gone somewhere around 3-1 in that stretch or 2-2. An 0-4 run through that portion of the schedule was not expected, an outcome that makes math's head explode. LaxPower's computing machine agrees to a degree, predicted Marist to have an even goal differential against Brown, serving as three-goal favorite against Manhattan, in an expected even situation with Detroit, and a four-goal underdog to Hofstra. These were lost opportunities for the Red Foxes, pitching away three games -- the dates against Brown, Manhattan, and Detroit -- by a total of four goals and an average margin of defeat of just over a goal (games, again, where the Red Foxes were favored or in a toss-up scenario where their odds for victory were as good as those that their opponents had).

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Marist loses one player -- Gannon Osborn -- that played in the team's MAAC Tournament championship game in 2014. Otherwise, every single cat that saw action against Siena in the Red Foxes' season finale maintains eligibility for 2015, allowing Marist to avoid suffering massive losses due to graduation. Marist took a step back last spring due to its structure in 2013, but is primed to contend -- once again -- in the league in 2015. Wilkinson has a lot of potential to work with going into next season.