Lax Stats - 2006 - It's SOG

NCAA - Changes In The Wind - In 2004 Jay Pfeiffer made an enormous impact in the championship game with 15 saves in a 14-13 win over JHU.  In 2005, Jesse Schwartzman was clearly the championship game MVP with his second half winning performance against Duke (8 SOG, 7 Saves, 1 Goal Against). This year there were three great performances including;

Ben Gaebel, Cortland as the foundation of Cortland's national championship game win 13-12 over Salisbury with 18 saves, 60% save percentage against 30 shots on goal - his teammates go only 19 shots on goal, but scored on 13 of them including the game winner in OT.

Peter Coluccini, Syracuse put in a big 1st round win against Harvard (14 saves) and a bigger quarterfinal win against JHU with 16 saves (8 in the 4th quarter).  

Doc Schneider, UMASS put in a big win against Cornell (10 saves in a 10-9 win) and a bigger semi-final 8-5 win over Maryland with 15 saves (7 in the 4th quarter)

Overall Analysis - BUT, each year I do an analysis of the goaltending. The trend of defenses (and long/ efficient offensive possessions) winning ball games was more dramatic this year than in prior years.  I analyzed all of the NCAA Division I tournament games and the Division III championship (16 games overall) and found:

Winning teams averaged (16 gms)

  • 40.1 shots / 24.9 shots on goal

  • 12.9 goals for

  • 10.4 saves

  • 33.8 shots against / 18.3 on goal

  • 6.6 shots on goal (SOG) difference

  • 7.8 goals against

  • 5.1 goals difference

Losing teams averaged

  • 33.8 shots / 18.3 shots on goal

  • 7.8 goals for

  • 12 saves

  • 40.1 shots against/ 24.9 on goal

  • - 6.6 SOG Difference

  • 12.9 goals against

  • 5.1 goals difference

Look at the number of saves - LOSERS HAVE MORE SAVES.  Then look at the shots for and against. Conclusion: WINNERS keep the ball off their goalie via better defense and longer offensive possessions and therefore wins.  

Most impressive is that UVA had fewer saves than its opponent due mostly to the low number of shots on goal (SOG) that UVA held their opponents to.   Patient and effective offense by UVA limited the number of chances that their opponents had and solid total defense including goaltending by Kip Turner made for few  opponents goals. UVA was a clinic in total team play. UVA beat its opponents in:

  • Shots
  • Shots on goal (SOG)
  • Goals
  • Shooting percentage (goals/shots taken)
  • Save percentage (goals/shots on goal)

Virginia averaged (in four wins):

  • 48.5 shots / 31.3 shots on goal/gm

  • 16.5 goals/gm for UVA

  • 34% UVA shooting %-age

  • 10.0 saves for UVA

  • 53% save percentage for UVA

  • 37.0 shots against / 18.8 on goal

  • 12.5 SOG difference

  • 8.8 goals/gm by opponents

  • 18% opponent shooting %-age

  • 14.8 opponent saves / gm

  • 47% save %-age for opponent

  • 7.5 goals difference/gm

UVA was at its best in the UVA - Syracuse semifinal where the Cavaliers pelted the goal (Peter Coluccini) with 42 shots, 28 on goal and 17 in for 40% shooting percentage. Moreover, the game was over in the 1st quarter when the Cavaliers shot right at Peter's stick side high taking advantage of hitch in his motion to score 6 goals on 7 shots to be up 6-1 after 9 minutes of the game and 8-2 at the end of the quarter (eight shots on goal - all in the net). My hat is off to the VA coaching staff for seeing the goalie's tendency in their scouting report and to the UVA players for shooting right at the place where a goalie is usually the strongest - that is team trust.

Relative Save Percentage and SOG Differential - There is more to this analysis. How valuable is a good goalie (especially save percentage) in relation to the SOG differential?  Clearly, if the goalies are equal and the SOG are equal, then who has the ball last may be what decides it all (and then the team with the better goalie may win depending on how good his save percentage is and if he still has any gas in his tank at the end of the game).  This is the usual nearly always subjective discussion that surrounds goaltending.  But, how much does a better goalie help a team in relation to how well the team wins the SOG battle.

We have 16 games here and 3 were won by teams where they had fewer shots on goal than the losing opposition.  In all three of these games Cortland vs. Salisbury, JHU vs. 'Cuse and UMASS vs UofMD, the goalie won the game with high save percentages and high save counts.  The other 13 games have only one consistent statistic - the winner had more shots on goal than the loser.  The winning teams save percentage is 8.3% higher than the losers and the total margin of victory is 5 goals.  So if your keeper is 10 %-age points better than your opposition and you have any edge on SOG that should make you about 6 goals better.  For every 1.2 SOG you have better than your opposition you are about 1 goal better.  If you are 5 points better in goal %-age and 5 SOG better you should win by 8-10 goals.  It seems clear that coaches should be working very hard on these two areas - beyond the obvious face-offs to get the ball and GB/turnovers to keep the ball that are the foundation of possession, it is critical to work on getting more consistency out of your goalie (above 60% season long) coupled with fewer shots on goal allowed than you get (assuming you are shooting tough shots on the opposition keeper).  

This is understandable when one looks at two tables regarding college lacrossestatistics; the first table shows the effect of save percentage on SOGs.  The colored areas show goals allowed where blue is good, green ok trying to keep opposition to under 10 goals, yellow not so good, red bad and purple an almost certain loss at any level. So a lower save percentage can be tolerated when there are fewer SOGs, but a higher save percentage is required when more shots are on goal (because if you give up 15 goals you lose and over 12 you almost always lose in HS/college.

The second table shows the relationship between shots on goal and goals depending on how either accurate/good the shooting is.  From a shooting point of view the objective is to get at least 10 goals.  Inversely holding a team to low shot count and low shooting percentage makes it possible to hold them to 8 or fewer goals where most games are won.  It seems that good defense has a better chance of keeping the SOG down and the shooting percentage down by playing effective team defense inside 11 yards from the goal and letting the goalie make the outside saves.  These two tables are the same - one with a defensive color scheme and one with an offensive one.

                                                    Goals Allowed

Shots

SOG

Save Percentage against all shots on goal

Allowed

Allowed

30%

35%

40%

45%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

25

15

10.5

9.8

9.0

8.3

7.5

6.8

6.0

5.3

4.5

33

20

14.0

13.0

12.0

11.0

10.0

9.0

8.0

7.0

6.0

42

25

17.5

16.3

15.0

13.8

12.5

11.3

10.0

8.8

7.5

50

30

21.0

19.5

18.0

16.5

15.0

13.5

12.0

10.5

9.0

58

35

 

22.8

21.0

19.3

17.5

15.8

14.0

12.3

10.5

67

40

 

 

 

22.0

20.0

18.0

16.0

14.0

12.0

 

 

  Goals Made

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Percentage (goals/all shots) 

 

 

18%

21%

24%

27%

30%

33%

36%

39%

42%

Shots

SOG

Shooting Percentage (goals/shots on goal)

Allowed

Allowed

30%

35%

40%

45%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

25

15

4.5

5.3

6.0

6.8

7.5

8.3

9.0

9.8

10.5

33

20

6.0

7.0

8.0

9.0

10.0

11.0

12.0

13.0

14.0

42

25

7.5

8.8

10.0

11.3

12.5

13.8

15.0

16.3

17.5

50

30

9.0

10.5

12.0

13.5

15.0

16.5

18.0

19.5

21.0

58

35

10.5

12.3

14.0

15.8

17.5

19.3

21.0

22.8

 

67

40

12.0

14.0

16.0

18.0

20.0

22.0

 

 

 

What this tells us is that even though the emotional lift a team gets from a big save at the right time is good, it is consistent goalie play (above 55%) and team defense (low SOG and mostly outside shots) that wins - as coaches we need to make that the environment for our team and wins will come and stay.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 11-9--08