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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Villanova

The Wildcats were better than their 6-10 record last spring.

Howard Smith-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

VILLANOVA WILDCATS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 6-10 (3-3, Big East) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 37.50% 47
2013 Record 7-8 (5-1, Big East) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 46.67% 34
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 53.49% 28
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 56.20% 25
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -2.71% 41*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -3* 36*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.99 40
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 31.75 19
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -1.75 49*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -21* 58*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 26.31 9
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 30.49 29
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +4.18 6*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +20* 6*
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

Villanova has done a solid job at maintaining the program's competitiveness over the last three seasons after finishing their 2011 campaign with an invitation to the NCAA Tournament and a top 10 ranking in the final USILA poll of the season. That isn't a backhanded compliment to the Wildcats; it's genuinely impressive that Villanova has been able to generate continued relevance in Division I lacrosse despite: (1) Graduating some of the best players that have ever come through the program, including Brian Karalunas, Jack Rice, Kevin Cunningham, and Will Casertano; (2) Not having a deep lacrosse tradition, owning a total of two invitations to The Big Barbeque (2009 and 2011) while never advancing past the first round; (3) Having geographic competition both within Philadelphia and the greater Mid-Atlantic region; and (4) Facing competition that doesn't have the same kind of institutional concerns that the Wildcats maintain.

None of this is easy to overcome, yet Mike Corrado has positioned Villanova -- over the last three seasons -- well to combat various challenges and find success where other programs have faltered:

PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY GOOD
SEASON ADJ. PYTHAG. EXP. % NT'L RANK EXP. RECORD ACTUAL RECORD
2014 53.49% 28 9-7 6-10
2013 56.20% 25 8-7 7-8
2012 54.15% 29 8-7 8-7

It's not like Villanova has a talent pipeline that can compete with North Carolina, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the rest of the blue bloods that swill brandy in their snifters while wearing ascots. The Wildcats are somewhere under that tier in the national hierarchy, but have been able to string together solid performances following arguably the most successful season in Villanova's history, lurking as a dangerous and capable competitor. Hanging around the top 20 and the right half of the nation is an impressive feat, avoiding major regressions in overall production while building a platform for growth in future years. The program has only experienced six double-digit win seasons since its inception in 1981, but the Wildcats are at least in a position to not deviate far from that mark given the way the program has transitioned from the heights it achieved in 2011.

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

Villanova played 10 games this past season -- almost 63 percent of its schedule -- that ended in one- or two-goal results. 10! I have no idea whether that's the highest number or ratio in the nation, but playing 10 dates that end with margins that close has to be something that makes blood leak out of your eyeballs. Five of those games were overtime affairs, with two of the Wildcats' overtime results featuring more than one extra session. Villanova was less than exceptional in these games in 2014, going a paltry 3-7 in its 10 nail-biters while earning a 1-4 record in its overtime games. The end result for the 'Cats was a 6-10 record and a gap between the team's expected winning percentage and actual winning percentage -- 15.99 percent -- that ranked 64th nationally, a difference of about three expected victories for Villanova.

This is . . . this is where fun meets fleeing for your life as you attempt to survive the robot apocalypse. Skynet strikes again!

I honestly don't know what to think about this aspect of the Wildcats' 2014 campaign. I generally characterize that gap between expected winning percentage and actual winning percentage as "underachievement," but a solid argument can be made that Villanova was the victim of some horrific "luck" last year. It didn't matter whether Villanova was at home, on the road, playing as a favorite, or attempting to stab an opponent as an underdog: The Wildcats played an assload of close games and didn't come out on the right end of most of them.

THE BLOOD . . . IT'S EVERYWHERE
OPPONENT RESULT LOG5 LAXPOWER PREDICTED GOAL DIFF.
at Lehigh 6-7 (3OT) (L) 31.73% -2
Drexel 11-10 (OT) (W) 42.11% 0
at Delaware 9-11 (L) 56.61% 0
Pennsylvania 11-12 (L) 34.22% -1
at Maryland 10-12 (L) 24.25% -5
at Marquette 10-8 (W) 61.02% +1
at Penn State 9-7 (W) 38.96% -2
Denver 8-9 (OT) (L) 19.81% -4
at St. John's 10-11 (OT) (L) 53.20% 0
Providence 10-11 (OT) (L) 66.58% +4

This is just mean and cruel. Teams don't deserve this, not even jerkface teams that you hate and wish were dropped in a vat of acid for a scientific experiment called "Because We Have This Vat of Acid." To be clear: Villanova suffered through 10 games -- almost two-thirds of its schedule -- where it averaged a half-goal defeat. The universe is an ugly bitch.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Fun fact: Villanova has 15 players listed on its 2015 roster that are 5'10" or under. John Kluh -- the adorable midfielder that plays angry and missed all of last season with an ACL tear -- and Matt McIver -- each are listed at 5'4" -- could comprise two-thirds of the shortest midfield line in the nation. If you stacked them on top of each other they'd equal one Notre Dame close defenseman. I demand that a calliope play something jaunty if they end up on the field together.