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Maryland and Syracuse Shooting: Stat of the Week

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: this weekend’s upcoming matchup between newly crowned #1 Maryland and Syracuse, specifically, their expected shooting percentage.

Expected Shooting Percentage, as Capozzi defines it, is adding up the probability that all shots taken would go in with an average shooter and then divide by the total number of shots taken.

So, it’s a decent metric to see how teams compare to each other in terms of how good an offense is at creating and capitalizing on opportunities rather than just looking at raw shot percentage. This is quite a bit different than shot charting, which can take into account position on the field, position on the goal, hand use, if a pass is involved, etc.

But looking across all of Division 1 Men’s teams right now, we can get a good feel for how they rank next to each other.

Why this metric jumped out to me this week is that on Sunday, you have Syracuse hosting Maryland in a big time game. Syracuse shocked most people with their offensive output this past weekend against Holy Cross, and Maryland did the same with how well they handled a very good Loyola team loaded with experienced players. But going into this matchup, Maryland actually leads the country in expected shooting percentage with 38.3% while Syracuse sits just behind them in the second spot at 38.1%. What’s also interesting is they have nearly identical possession advantages with +19 and +21, respectively.


So what’s the takeaway from all this? Sunday may be a really bad day to be a goalie in the Carrier Dome. We’re still very early in the season, so the sample size behind numbers like this are painfully small.

Holy Cross’ defense is not even close to what Maryland is going to be able to throw at Syracuse’s dodgers and shooters in terms of size, athleticism, and speed. Expect that to really play into the Orange’s ability to take as many quality shots as they did against the Crusaders.

But how will Maryland compare? They already have a few games played and they were going up against a Loyola squad with one of the best longpoles in the country and a very experienced goalie between the pipes, but still put up some incredible numbers.

Could Syracuse’s defense put up a better fight? Absolutely. But Maryland is the #1 team in the country for a reason and they’re really well-rounded in every spot on the field. It will be interesting to revisit these metrics after this game to see how each fared. I would fully expect both of these teams to drop a bit in this particular category. But if you’re someone who is betting on lacrosse, this is a game where you want to keep an eye on the over.