Scoring in 2017 in Men's Division I increased modestly, from 20.2 to 20.7 goals/game. Scoring was changed little in Division II, dipping from 21.8 to 21.7 goals/game, and it rose in Division III from 20.9 to 21.4. The overall men's average was 21.3 goals per game vs. 20.9 in 2016.|
In women's lacrosse, the overall scoring reversed a four-year decline. After reaching an 11-year low of 21.3 goals/game in 2016, the average was 22.5 this past spring, with increases in all three divisions. However, easily the biggest jump came in Division I, where one presumes the shot clock had a hand in moving the average from 20.7 goals/game last year to 23.9 in 2017.
For this analysis, both scoring (average total goals per game) and high score differentials (15+ and 20+) were examined, but only for games played within divisions (there are relatively few interdivisional games any more). The first two figures show the trends over time. You can click the graphs to view a larger version.
What has happened with score differentials over this period? The four graphs below show the percentage of games in each division with differentials of 20+ and 15+ goals.
High goal differentials remain relatively uncommon in Men's Division I, and there were fewer again this year than last. In Division II, 12.3% of games had a 15+ margin and 4.6% a 20+ margin, both increases vs. 2016. The corresponding figures for Division III were 14.1% and 5.0%, respectively, both of which represent increases after three years of declines.
On the women's side, the percentage of games with high goal margins is substantially greater, and it rose in all three divisions. For 15+ goal differential games, the year-to-year changes were 5.9% to 8.3% in Division I, 16.3% to 20.5% in Division II, and 14.7% to 16.1% in Division III. For 20+ goal differential games, Division II again has the most, with 5.2% this year vs. 3.8% in 2016.
Average Goal Differential
From 2009-2014 in men's Division I, the average differential remained 4.5-4.7 goals per game but rose somewhat the next two years. In 2017, it dropped slightly to 4.9 Division II has been more variable The average there climbed to 7.3. In Division III, following three years of decline, there was a modest increase, from 7.3 to 7.6 goals per game.
As you can see in the second graph below, from 2012-2016 for women's lacrosse, there has been considerable stability in average differential in all three divisions (an average of 6.5 in Division I, 8.6 in Division II, and 8.3 in Division III). For 2017, the average climbed about a half goal/game in all divisions.
Home Field Advantage
On a side note, for those interested in home field advantage (HFA), the average goals per game in favor of the home team for the 2010 through 2017 seasons are shown below. The HFA figures have bounced around to some degree, and it's frankly hard to know what to make of any apparent trends given the nature of scheduling.
Div. 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 MD1 0.92 1.14 1.15 1.09 0.90 1.32 1.49 1.16 MD2 1.04 1.53 1.22 1.65 0.72 1.32 0.46 1.28 MD3 1.62 1.46 1.68 1.53 1.54 1.20 1.60 1.79 WD1 1.16 1.45 1.09 1.51 1.59 1.42 1.25 1.87 WD2 1.56 1.41 1.60 1.16 1.39 1.51 0.75 1.95 WD3 1.21 1.41 1.41 1.29 1.96 1.07 1.49 1.59