And so the Aughts have come to a close, at least so far as college lacrosse is concerned.
As a result, it’s time to crown a team of the decade. Really, that could have been done when Johns Hopkins limped out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
That’s because it was already going to be hard to catch Syracuse, what with the Orange’s four titles entering this season.
After yesterday’s 10-9 overtime thriller against Cornell, make that five.
So, yes, the Desko Decade has worked out quite nicely for the Cuse, who wound up collecting their first consecutive titles since a couple guys named Gait were plying their skills in central New York.
Fortunately, there’s a way to quantify this, even if it’s a little contrived. Consider this little scoring system – hardly perfect, but certainly a way to size up the sport’s powers:
20: National title
2: First round
-1: Missed tournament
All of those figures are noncumulative; you don’t get 48 points for winning it all in a given year. These numbers, though, are separate from tournament achievement:
1: No. 1 NCAA tournament seed
-3: Losing season
-3: Non-retirement/ladder climbing coaching change
For that last item, Loyola doesn’t lose points for Dave Cottle taking the Maryland job. It does lose points for ousting Bill Dirrigl a few years later. And, yes, Duke gets docked three points for its handling of Mike Pressler in the wake of rape accusations.
As for who got included in this exercise, it seemed like a single quarterfinal appearance over 10 years was grounds for inclusion. No school that won a tournament game since 2000 was left out of this, and that seems a modest bar to vault to be considered among the decade’s best teams.
Onto the data:
It’s no surprise the four schools that won titles comprise the first tier, and the three remaining schools with multiple final four appearances make up the second tier.
Georgetown and Navy rank eighth and ninth, respectively – the Hoyas based on their consistency and the Mids in large part because of the combination of their 2004 trip to the finals and their dominance of the Patriot League since joining that season.
Princeton built up 60 of its 65 points in the decade’s first five years (2000-04). Through ‘04, the the Tigers trailed only Syracuse (84) before getting passed by Hopkins and Virginia.
Duke rolled up 42 of its 47 points in the last five years. That even accounts for the four points lost in 2006 for missing the tournament and changing coaches.
Maryland picked up at least four points in every season but two (only Hopkins and Syracuse did so at that steady a clip) but never more than eight.
Anyway, you can lose yourself in this data if you so choose. But in the end, it’s impossible to argue the denizens of the Dome truly were the team of the decade.