Welcome back to the next edition of our collaboration with Zack Capozzi over at Lacrosse Reference. Each week, we are putting together a stat of the week to highlight a game, team, or individual from Men’s or Women’s lacrosse to focus on.
It might be from a game the previous weekend, or it might be for an upcoming matchup. But either way, it will allow me to use some stats combined with a little bit of commentary for why I think that particular one jumps out to me in a given week.
This week’s focus: Adjusted Faceoff Percentage.
The way adjusted faceoff percentage differs from raw faceoff percentage is by adjusting the percentage based on the opponents. So essentially, if you’re winning more against good faceoff teams, it’s a positive multiplier for you. Likewise, losing to bad faceoff teams is going to negatively affect the percentage.
So, first off, let’s take a look at the top 5 teams in the country in terms of raw faceoff win percentage, through Tuesday’s games:
Fortunately, we don’t need to spend too much time on digging into the table above. It’s just a straightforward list of each team’s total faceoff win percentage, not dependent on opponent or player taking the faceoff. So now, let’s see who is the top 5 in adjust faceoff percentage:
Obviously the team on top is the same in both tables, but that’s largely due to just how many faceoffs Ohio State is winning. In their four games, they have won 94 out of their 119 draws. Meanwhile, the second team Saint Joseph’s, and by that I mean Zac Cole who has taken every single one for them, actually drops almost two points once adjusting for opponents. The result is showing that Ohio State is currently head and shoulders above the rest of the country.
But the one that really jumps out to me is Georgetown, who goes from 13th in the country in raw faceoff percentage to fourth in adjusted. Nearly a 5% gain means there is something to look into. Here are Georgetown’s faceoff percentages against every opponent they have faced this season.
Ultimately what this all came down to was the Notre Dame game. While the sample size is still pretty small to truly account for opponent strength, Notre Dame historically is a team that you won’t win over 70% of your faceoffs against. The fact that Georgetown did this in a huge game and it was their best total all year is absurdly impressive. Definitely worth of the bump from a subjective point in addition to the objective formula.
When you dig into the box score, things become even more stark. Notre Dame won just a single faceoff in the first and fourth quarters. The first you can maybe live with and understand since Georgetown also won that scoring quarter, 6-1.
But in the fourth, Georgetown won the quarter 5-2, bouncing back from a 5-0 Notre Dame third quarter where they were staging their comeback. Coming up big with “make it take it lacrosse” to close out a game like this is one of embarrassment of riches that dominant teams have. When you already have trouble scoring on a team because of their All-American goalie, and their offense can score on anyone, you start to understand why being this good at faceoffs can be such a dangerous weapon.