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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Navy

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4-10 isn't 4-10 for everyone.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

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

NAVY MIDSHIPMEN
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 4-10 (3-5, Patriot) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 28.57% 56
2013 Record 3-10 (1-5, Patriot) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 23.08% 54
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 44.89% 39
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 32.81% 52
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +12.08% 9*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +13* 5*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 30.94 35
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 25.65 55
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +5.29 8*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +20* 5*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.50 39
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 30.96 32
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -1.54 41*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -6* 43*
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 Mids were a tough out at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this past spring. Buoyed by a handful of straight-up ass-beatings of teams that Navy should have -- and did -- shellac and some close results against other opponents, the Midshipmen finished the season ranked second in home field advantage, rolling with an almost four-goal advantage when playing in Annapolis compared to appearances on the road in non-tournament games. The team's 3-4 record in home games in 2014 isn't indicative of the efforts that Navy put together when playing on the banks of the Chesapeake:

DROP ANCHOR AT PORT
OPPONENT RESULT LOG5 LAXPOWER PREDICTED GOAL. DIFF.
VMI 18-5 (W) 87.29% +7
Georgetown 8-9 (OT) (L) 63.68% +2
Holy Cross 21-12 (W) 71.44% +4
Lafayette 11-3 (W) 84.91% +6
Colgate 7-10 (L) 47.61% 0
Loyola 6-7 (2OT) (L) 13.86% -4
Johns Hopkins 5-6 (L) 20.43% -4
METRIC VALUE N'TL RANK NT'L AVG.
Home Field Advantage 3.88 2 1.02

Let's put this into context: (1) Navy overperformed in all but one home game -- the date against Georgetown -- last season, either falling within the scope of expected results or playing up to the level of their opponent; (2) the team went 3-1 in games in which the Mids were favored; (3) Navy's aggregate goal differential in games in which it was an underdog was two goals, falling by a bucket against both the Greyhounds and Jays; and (4) the Midshipmen just played well when playing in their own building:

HOME COOKIN'
METRIC VALUE
Average Raw Offensive Efficiency -- Home Wins 42.39
Average Raw Defensive Efficiency -- Home Wins 19.78
Average Raw Offensive Efficiency -- Home Losses 22.52
Average Raw Defensive Efficiency -- Home Losses 25.56
Average Raw Offensive Efficiency -- All Home Games 31.04
Average Raw Defensive Efficiency -- All Home Games 23.08

The home record isn't fancy, but Navy was a different team at home last year compared to what they were on the road.

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

Navy picked up a lot of ground between the 2013 season and the close of their 2014 campaign -- the team's rise in adjusted Pythagorean win expectation doesn't exist in a vacuum; LaxPower also reflects the Mids as one of the biggest gainers between the two years -- but the Midshipmen's improvement didn't come without an ugly residue: Navy's difference in actual winning percentage and expected winning percentage was the second worst in the nation at over 16 percent. That gap amounted to about a two-win difference in the Mids final record. A 4-10 season as opposed to a 6-8 finish is a significant difference, one that alters the perception of a program's momentum and volition.

Underachievement -- or luck, as some call it -- is an odd concept. A team creates its own reality, and the oft-cited Bill Parcells lie of "You are what your record says you are" further complicates the conceptual understanding of what underachievement is and isn't. For Navy, though, a straightforward examination of three games -- the team's losses to Georgetown, Loyola, and Johns Hopkins -- all provided opportunities for the Mids to earn those two extra wins that the team's statistical profile indicated that Navy should have garnered (ignoring, of course, noise created through some prolific face-smashings that the Midshipmen put on VMI and Holy Cross):

  • Navy had momentum against the Hoyas, scoring two goals over the last five minutes of the fourth quarter -- part of a 5-1 run from the Midshipmen -- to pull square with Georgetown and force overtime. The Mids eventually fell less than two minutes into the extra session after Jeff Fountain scored a sharp wrap-around goal in a timer-on posture. If Navy could have killed that timer-on and kept Fountain off the crease, the result could have been different considering the heat that Navy was playing with.
  • The Mids played square with a far superior Loyola team in early April, answering a three-goal run from the 'Hounds in the third period to lock up the scoreboard at six with over nine minutes to play in regulation. Navy wouldn't score the rest of the way, however, conceding the game-winner with less than 15 seconds elapsed in the second overtime.
  • Like the team's date against Georgetown, Navy surged against Hopkins late in the game, using a man-up goal with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter to come within two of the Jays and drawing within one of favored Hopkins with 5:27 left in regulation. The Mids couldn't close, though, firing off only four more shots the rest of the way with two missing the net and Eric Schneider turning two others away (Mike Pellegrino also deflected a pass that eventually killed a Navy possession late).

Lost opportunities are death, man.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Navy is losing 13 seniors going into the 2015 season, many of which were major cogs to the Mids' machine, including Pat Durkin, Pat Kiernan, Sam Jones, Tucker Hull, and Nik Mullen. In all, the Mids will lose over half of their starts from 2014 and half of the starters from the team's final game of the 2014 season (not to mention Kiernan, the team's All-American long-stick midfielder). There are holes to fill -- two-thirds of the team's starting attack from last season has disappeared and two-thirds of the team's starting midfield is open for competition -- and some serious role responsibilities will need to be undertaken in the fall and the early portions of the spring.

But . . . T.J. Hanzsche returns, as does Gabe Voumard, Brady Dove, Kevin Wendel, Matt Reese, Jules Godino, John Connors, and Chris Fennell. There are assets to build around in Annapolis, but finding how these pieces fit together in the absence of established quantities that are no longer with the program is going to take some time. This is more of a question of "What does Navy want to be?" rather than "What can Navy become?" The Patriot League isn't slowing down for the Mids to catch up, so it's on Navy to find ways to create success with what they have in a year of potential transition.