Senior Moments, by McNutty

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Photos by Michael Jardine: Some “lesser known” seniors who made it to the playoffs.  Order prints from our Playoff Galleries; proceeds go to charity.

MI senior Justin Rorem and Issaquah senior Brady Hanh

For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to moneyball Washington High School lacrosse. You know, find some obscure statistic that determines success and point out how that’s what coaches should be focusing on. Or just use it as a conversation point among lacrosse parents shooting the breeze before or after a game. It’s a fool’s errand, I know, but it keeps me off the streets and gives my wife more time away from me.

Garfield senior Elliot Allen and Overlake senior Erik Risa

The good news is that Sportability and the WHSBLA board have been evolving over the years and the stats that the league tracks are becoming more robust. They’re not perfect yet, (I’d still like to see league-wide face-off win percentages tracked) but it’s been nice to see them evolve. We track different stats today than we did in 2005 and I like to think that’s because we’ve gotten smarter. A problem, of course, is that all of these stats are at the mercy of both the people who collect them at the scorer’s table, and the people who enter them into Sportability after each game. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best we have and I thought it would be fun to take it for a spin. Let’s go…

Bainbridge senior Sean Meier and Eastside Catholic senior Cole Ivanoff

The first thing I thought of, and the easiest to get your brain around is goal differential. Take the number of goals you score over a season, subtract the number of goals you give up, and voila! The teams that have the best differential should do well in the State Championship. Makes sense, right? Let’s take a look and see if anything correlates:

 

 

Lakeside senior goalie Peter Scott and Mercer Island senior Justin Rorem

Let me help you read this, because it’s not really intuitive. The lines represent Championship game pairs from the past eight years. Each dot represents a finalist in that game. For example, in 2008, Issaquah played Bainbridge in the title game. On the vertical axis we have the team’s ranking in goal differential. In this 2008 example, Issaquah was ranked #2, and Bainbridge was ranked #1. Follow? If we look at the eight championship games from 2005 to 2012, we see that most of the time, the game features the two top-ranked teams in Goal Differential (GD). The exception years are 2006, when it was #3 vs. #4, and 2012, when Eastside Catholic was #7. So this chart tells us, that overall, if you’re ranked in the top two or three in GD, the odds are that you’ll be playing in the State Championship. And for 2013, here’s the rankings for D1 teams still in the playoffs:

D1 Team – 2013 Goal Differential Ranking
Bellevue

170

1

Mercer Island

131

2

Bainbridge

90

4

Eastside Catholic

77

5

 

Overlake senior Curtis Yokoyama and Garfield senior Elliot Voss (from Northwest)

Okay, looks pretty good. No need to play the semifinals, in fact we’ve been wasting our time with all the playoff games, right?. The final will be Bellevue vs. Mercer Island, with the odds going to Bellevue because the better ranked GD team usually wins, right? But wait, hang on, look what happens when we look at the Division 2 teams and their GD rankings:

D2 Team – 2013

Goal Differential

Ranking

Still in Playoffs?

Stadium

144

1

Everett

106

2

Wenatchee

100

3

Garfield

85

4

Y

Richland

82

5

Y

Peninsula-Gig Harbor

76

6

Nathan Hale

71

7

Y

Sehome-Bellingham

55

8

Kennedy Catholic

49

9

Klahowya

44

10

Seattle Prep

44

11

Ballard

42

12

Y

 

Issaquah senior Derek DeYoung

Here the top playoff team has a GD 41% less than the #1 ranked team? And there’s a semifinalist with a GD 61% lower. This is starting to seem like a bogus way to predict Championship games. What could we use…

I compiled stats for the past eight seasons in the following categories; Goals, Assists, AssistedGoals%, PointsPerGame, GoalsAgainstAverage, and Save%. None of these correlated very well to which teams made it into the Championship game. GoalsAgainstAverage came pretty close, that’s the average number of goals you have scored against you in a game. ShotsAllowedPerGame ranking has accurately described 4 of the last 8 Championship pairings. Three of the four 2013 D2 semifinalists are ranked in the top 10, and three of the four D1 semifinalists are in the top five. So I guess you could say that not allowing other teams to shoot increases your odds of success. But I wasn’t satisfied that I was finding anything useful.

Nathan Hale senior Jack MacIntire

Then I had a passing conversation (well, okay, I saw him at The Roanoke) with Kevin Mincio, Assistant Varsity Coach at Mercer Island. The Islanders had just knocked off Bainbridge and he was pointing out that eight of the nine goals they had were scored by seniors. “If you’re going to succeed in this league” Mincio said, “You seniors have to step up. We tell them that all the time here. Seniors have to step up.”

And it got me thinking, has that been historically true over the past eight years of Washington Lacrosse? And I ran some numbers, again from Sportability, and here’s what I found. In Division 1, where we’ve had the most complete roster information over the years, teams average 8.1 seniors on Varsity.

Bellevue senior Hunter Lien

However, the league champions have averaged 11.6 seniors, and no one has had less than nine in their championship season. Pretty interesting, eh? These days, sophomores and freshman are getting all the attention from college recruiters. We all love to see the freshman phenom on the field, a little speedy devil beguiling defenses with skills that belie his age. But the numbers seem to suggest that those guys don’t win you championships. It’s the seniors.

This year in Division 1, the remaining semifinalists breakdown like this:

D1 Semifinalists No. of Seniors
Bellevue

13

Mercer Island

11

Bainbridge

13

Eastside Catholic

3

 

And in Division 2:

D2 Semifinalists No. of Seniors
Ballard

17

Richland

12

Garfield

8

Nathan Hale

6

 

Overlake senior Kinori Rosnow

If you’re wondering, like I was, how Ballard and Richland managed their upsets in the quarterfinals, maybe we should have looked less at the team’s record and more at age of their players. And just to give you a heads-up, the roster information posted says that Ballard also has 19 Juniors in the program. So if this senior theory is accurate, watch out for them next year. And, as long as we’re on the subject, in D1 Bellevue will have 20 seniors next year, Mercer Island 17, Issaquah 14, Eastside Catholic 10, Bainbridge 6 and King’s Way 5. Predictions anyone?

Like I said at the top, it’s a fool’s errand. I’m not suggesting that Nathan Hale and Eastside Catholic have no shot because they have no seniors. But if they’re in the 2013 semifinals with teams brimming with underclassmen, think how good they’ll be when they turn into seniors. Talk to me in a couple of years.

 

One Response to "Senior Moments, by McNutty"
  1. I’d like to know out of the seniors playing…how many were held back seniors. most likely at the youth 5/6 or 7/8 age. seems to be a growing trend in this sport to help create size and Lacrosse Academia. could be an interesting Correlation with the Senior stat.

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