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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Colgate

The Raiders were 6-2 through their first eight games and were 3-5 in their last eight dates.

Eric Hartline-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.


2014 Record 9-7 (4-4, Patriot) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 56.23% 26
2013 Record 8-7 (3-3, Patriot) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 53.33% 25
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 47.26% 34
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 45.22% 36
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +2.05% 28*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -2* 22*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 25.63 57
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.46 38
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -3.82 59*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -18* 54*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.65 24
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 31.05 34
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +2.40 16*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +10* 16*
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.


In the absence of Peter Baum -- arguably the most important offensive player to come through Hamilton -- Ryan Walsh assumed the role of primary offensive generator for Colgate. Now, the team's offense regressed between 2013 and 2014, but this is partly attributable to losing Baum, Jimmy Ryan, and Matt Baker and transitioning toward an offense focused around Walsh with players like Brendon McCann, Matt Clarkson, and Eric Foote assuming greater responsibility in creating offense. Despite serving as a complementary option -- an important one, but one nonetheless -- in the past, Walsh stepped forward and finished as the team's leader in points, goals, and helpers (tied with McCann) in 2014 while also earning second-team All-Patriot League honors.

Walsh's performance and responsibility in this new situation in which he was asked to succeed within was notable, even if the attackman's overall production did not skyrocket between 2013 and 2014:

Goals 31 22.96% 37 25.17%
Assists 14 22.22% 11 15.49%
Points 45 22.73% 48 22.02%
Shots 109 20.80% 125 21.82%
Shooting Percentage 28.44% 25.76%* 29.60% 25.65%*
Turnovers 39 15.92% 28 18.31%

* This is the team average.

It's beyond important to note that Walsh's 2014 output was done in the vacuum that Baum left following his graduation. A player like Baum creates all kinds of havoc, not only in the stat sheet but also in the opportunities that he provides teammates by simply being on the field (drawing attention, etc.). Walsh, in this context, was able to maintain his output from 2013 season while steadying his team's offensive transition through its post-Baum existence. The fact that Walsh didn't regress in significant ways between the two years is important, if only because it provided a bridge between campaigns and potentially opens up new opportunities in the team's 2015 season as Walsh enters his final run in Hamilton.


Following a week in which Colgate fell to upstate neighbor Cornell and assaulted Navy in Annapolis, the Raiders rose to 17th in the media poll and 19th in the coaches poll. Colgate, appropriately in the dead center of its 2014 campaign, was at the pivot point of its season, though: After building goodwill in the first half of its effort, the Raiders would spin sideways towards early May. The team's split -- generating a 6-2 record over its first eight games and closing with a 3-5 mark over its last eight dates -- was an odd one, a circumstance wherein the Raiders took advantage of the soft opening it experienced in its slate while struggling down the stretch as the team's strength of schedule increased.

Looking in the details of the two eight-game stretches illustrates the depths of the two seasons that Colgate seemed to go through:

FIRST 8 GAMES RECORD: 6-2 AVG. LOG5: 55.12% AVG. OPP. ADJ. PYTHAG.%: 42.56%
Opponent Result LOG5 OPP. ADJ. PYTHAG.%
Bryant 7-4 (W) 33.48% 64.04%
Vermont 13-3 (W) 60.48% 36.93%
Lafayette 7-8 (L) 86.09% 12.65%
Bucknell 9-8 (W) 45.35% 51.92%
Hobart 7-5 (W) 59.18% 38.02%
Boston University 7-5 (W) 75.30% 22.72%
Binghamton 10-9 (W) 54.27% 43.03%
Cornell 10-15 (L) 26.78% 71.02%
LAST 8 GAMES RECORD: 3-5 AVG. LOG5: 35.67% AVG. OPP. ADJ. PYTHAG.%: 62.18%
Opponent Result LOG5 OPP. ADJ. PYTHAG.%
Navy 10-7 (W) 52.39% 44.89%
Loyola 8-10 (L) 15.04% 83.51%
Lehigh 7-11 (L) 26.59% 71.22%
Holy Cross 11-9 (W) 73.35% 24.57%
Army 7-8 (L) 29.12% 68.57%
Bucknell 10-9 (W) 45.35% 51.92%
Loyola 6-12 (L) 15.04% 83.51%
Syracuse 6-19 (L) 28.50% 69.21%

This isn't to imply that the Raiders were a fraud or anything in that vein; rather, it's to show that Colgate took advantage of the softer half of its schedule and had difficulty surmounting a significantly more difficult final half of its season. Closing is so important in Division I lacrosse: With a relatively short season and the increased importance of conference play (which is generally backloaded in teams' slates), peaking at the right time of the season and gaining momentum as the weather turns can dictate the ceiling of a club. The Raiders struggled -- in the context of finding wins -- against superior competition in its final eight games of 2014, winning one game it should have (against Holy Cross) and pulling out two victories in toss-up scenarios (against Bucknell and Navy). In all other games, Colgate fell in games in which the Raiders were an underdog. This situation isn't unique to Colgate's 2014 campaign, but it is somewhat disappointing given how the team performed through mid-March and the way the team was unable to snag an upset or two -- or even platform themselves to a position where the Raiders wouldn't be underdogs -- in the closing portion of its schedule.


Colgate will run with nine seniors next spring, an important core of contributors that includes Walsh, Alex Kinnealey, and Clarkson. That group of seniors should provide important leadership to a team that will return 76.25 percent -- !!!!!!! -- of its starts from 2014 while losing just two -- McCann and Bobby Lawrence -- 16-game starters from a season ago. Moreover, of the 122 starts returning to Hamilton next season, over 80 percent of those starts will be juniors or seniors in 2015. Mike Murphy has a manageable transition into the coming season, one which should -- at a minimum -- maintain the program's position as a Patriot League Tournament lock. It would be shocking to see the Raiders fall from the meaty middle of the nation next spring, with an opportunity to climb higher if the team is able to figure out some of its offensive issues while maintaining defensive thrust.