As we get ready for a brand new lacrosse season, fans of just about every team are going to notice some holes. As is inevitable in the cycle of college sports, many of our favorite lacrosse players will have graduated.
On the one hand, that is sad; seniors are often the heart and soul of their respective teams. On the other hand, what an opportunity for those left behind to fill those shoes. Leadership voids don’t stay unfilled for long, and I’m sure that, as every year, a new crop of players is about to burrow their way into our hearts.
But of course, Lacrosse Reference is not where you come for those fuzzy feelings. What do the numbers say? How will each team be affected by the loss of last year’s seniors.
|# of Seniors
|Total Production Lost
Not surprisingly, our reigning champs are among the hardest hit by graduation. Maryland loses a total of 8 contributing seniors from last year’s team, including the DMC trio as well as Isaiah Davis-Allen. On the one hand, if you are a Terps fan, thank goodness that they broke that title drought last season, before this group left town. On the other hand, Jared Bernhardt, Tim Rotanz, and Connor Kelly are all back, and all 3 of those guys were top 6 players for the team last season. Given the talent in the top tier of DI lacrosse, I suspect that the Terps will be able to reload.
Edit: A previous version of this post included Tim Rotanz as a departed senior. In fact, he is a 5th year senior this year. Apologies for the mistake.
Next Tiger Up
Towson is another team that made a championship weekend run behind a ton of senior production. Of the 193 expected goals that they saw graduate, Joe Seider and Ryan Drenner made up more than half. Shawn Nadelen’s team will need to replace those two as well as the production from Mike Lynch and Tyler Konen if they are going to repeat last year’s feats.
But let’s put this in a bit of perspective; the 193 expected goals that last year’s seniors are took out the door with them represent 80.3% of all production from last year’s squad. For comparison, Maryland, which lost more total expected goals, retains 40.9% of their production (they lost 59.1% to graduation). So you could argue that the challenge is even greater for the Tigers, despite losing less absolute production.
The top 6 teams, according to our Lax-ELO ratings, heading into 2018 are Albany, Maryland, Denver, Duke, Brown, and Ohio State. But Lax-ELO has no concept for graduation; despite a small adjustment, it will rank every team in the same slot that they ended 2017.
Here is the rub. Four of those teams also appear in our list of teams that have lost the most to graduation. The two that don’t show up: Duke and Ohio State. 25 teams lost more production to graduation than Duke. And 36 teams lost more to graduation than the Buckeyes. Bottom line, they are going to able to hit the ground running this year, where a team like Maryland is going to have to sort out who fills the Matt Rambo role.
As we mentioned with Maryland above, the four teams we highlighted are top programs, with excellent coaches, and a pipeline of talent. So this is not to say that we should write off any of them. But continuity is important. Despite some key losses, Duke and Ohio State are going to return more production and chemistry than those other four teams. This may even out by the end of the season, but if you are a fan of those teams, you have to feel good knowing where you can turn for a key goal or stop.
Oddity of the Week
Shoutout to the Monmouth Hawks for the strangest graduation profile of this analysis. Ok, so they had 18 guys lost to graduation; more than any team except for Furman (also with 18). But their top production guy, by expected goals added, (Bryce Wasserman) is back for his senior season.
Aside from Wasserman, their next 4 players by expected goals are all out of eligibility. And losing 18 out of 47 players is quite a chunk. (Side note: what happened with Monmouth recruiting to end up with such an imbalance within the classes?)
This is a team that snagged an NCAA tournament spot last year. The question for this year is: did last year’s mega-class instill enough of a winning culture that the newly minted Hawks will be able to carry over those good vibes to 2018?
The table below shows all D1 Men’s teams along with the number of seniors graduated from last year’s team and the total expected goals value of that group. The higher the number, the more the team will be trying to replace in terms of production (both offensive and defensive) this year.