What Delivers an Improved Season in Men’s College Soccer? The Relative Effects of Shots, Attacking and Defending Scoring Efficiency on Year-to-Year Change in Season Win Percentage

Authors: Louis R. Joslyn, Nicholas J. Joslyn and Mark R. Joslyn

Corresponding Author:
Mark R. Joslyn, PhD.
1541 Lilac Lane
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129

Mark Joslyn is a political scientist and graduate director at University of Kansas.
Louis Joslyn is a graduate student at University of Michigan in Bioinformatics
Nicholas Joslyn is a student at Simpson College majoring in Mathematics and Physics.

In NCAA division 1 men’s college soccer, what performance measures determine improvement in win percentage from one season to the next? Though systematic research of college soccer is uncommon, using available team box scores we were able to construct robust models for year-to-year improvement in win percentage. For teams that improved win percentage greater than 5%, attacking efficiency – ratio of goals scored and shots taken – was the most important predictor followed by defending scoring efficiency – ratio of goals against and shots against – and total shots ratio – total shots for versus total shots against. We also find that efficiency measures are the most difficult to repeat from one season to the next. In short, the key performance measure for improved team win percentages is converting chances into goals, the most challenging team variable to sustain across seasons.