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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Princeton

The Tigers failed to make the Ivy League Tournament in 2014.

Jim O'Connor-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

PRINCETON TIGERS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 7-6 (2-4, Ivy) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 53.85% 28
2013 Record 9-6 (3-3, Ivy) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 60.00% 21
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 63.48% 21
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 70.87% 13
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -7.39% 50*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -8* 47*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 38.26 7
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 39.04 6
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -0.78 41*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -1* 36*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.70 40
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 30.06 27
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -2.64 47*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -11* 50*
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

Tom Schreiber's career at Princeton is going to stand as one of the best in the program's history. His teams didn't touch the success that other Princeton greats experienced, but Schreiber's impact with the Tigers was significant and historically relevant. The positions he holds in Princeton's record book -- fifth in career points; seventh in career goals; sixth in career assists; one of two players in program history (along with Josh Sims) to be named a two-time MacLaughlin Award winner; one of only a handful of Tigers to earn three first team All-America honors; etc. -- supports the position that Schreiber was a special talent for Princeton, but it's what Schreiber meant to the Tigers' offense in his final three seasons -- years in which Schreiber was truly the combustion engine for the Tigers' offense and had full control over where it went -- that is most impressive about Schreiber's time in New Jersey.

From 2012 through 2014, Princeton finished 13th, sixth, and seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency, respectively, while Schreiber accounted for around 20 percent of the Tigers' total points in each season. While his percentage of goals and shots never topped 20 percent for Princeton in these seasons, he averaged around a quarter of the assists the Tigers generated in each of those years. The value of those assists was vitally important for Princeton considering that the Tigers never shot over 31 percent as a team. Most valuable of all of Schreiber's inputs into Princeton's offense, though, was his ability to create action and hold heavy carrying responsibilities while limiting turnovers: In the annotated stretch, Schreiber averaged only about 15 percent of the Tigers' total turnovers, generating more goals than turnovers in all three seasons while maintaining assist to turnover ratios that were fairly square.

The Human Weapon was a special force in Division I, crushing the souls of those that opposed him -- and his team -- for three straight seasons with little mitigation. His career will stand prominently among those celebrated before him in Princeton's program.

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

Missing the Ivy League Tournament last spring was a brutal, vicious blow for the Tigers. The failure of the program to advance to the conference's postseason isn't unique -- Princeton missed the Ivy League Tournament in 2011 after going 2-4 in league play that season -- but the team's failure to advance to a May adventure this past spring is savage due to one driving fact: The rest of the Ivy League wasn't beyond the Tigers' grasp in 2014. Looking at Princeton's profile relative to competitiveness against its conference rivals, the Tigers didn't face impossible circumstances last season that were destined to keep Princeton out of the Ivy League Tournament. Princeton was a comparable foe to its opponents, but limped to a 2-4 league mark that ultimately denied the Tigers a chance to extend their season:

THAT ONE SECOND
OPPONENT LOCATION SCORE LAXPOWER PREDICTED GOAL DIFF. MASSEY PREDICTED GOAL DIFF. LOG5
Pennsylvania Home 15-12 0 -1 43.99%
Yale Away 15-16 -1 -1 46.78%
Brown Away 10-11 +1 +1 66.46%
Dartmouth Home 13-10 +6 +6 83.97%
Harvard Home 8-9 -1 -1 53.32%
Cornell Neutral 10-12 -1 -1 41.62%

That is rough. Throwing out the Dartmouth game -- everyone shellacked the Big Green last spring -- Princeton suffered death by a billion paper cuts from money that they gave to their murderers:

  • Total actual aggregated goal differential in non-Dartmouth games: -2 (a hair under half a goal per game).
  • Total predicted aggregated goal differential in non-Dartmouth games (LaxPower): -2 (a hair under half a goal per game).
  • Total predicted aggregated goal differential in non-Dartmouth games (Massey): -3 (a hair above half a goal per game).
That is an insane amount of terrible, deadly luck. The Tigers were in toss-up games and games just on the fringe of toss-up scenarios and went a maddeningly 1-4 in those contests. Princeton had the talent and ability to bend some of these things in their favor but wasn't able to make it happen. Yowzers.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

What will Princeton's offense look like without Schreiber pressing the "Engage" button? Will the Tigers' defense finally coalesce after two straight seasons of less-than-stellar defensive results? Much of Princeton's staff turned over again; how will the roster adapt to the new faces and approaches? Will Matt O'Connor or Eric Sanschagrin step forward in 2015 and anchor the team's defense from the crease? Can nine seniors get the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012? How will Mike MacDonald's off-ball play look without Schreiber creating action?

And those are just some of the questions that the Tigers face going into 2015.