NWSL/NCAA – Four Factors Analysis – Classes of 2016-2018

As anyone who follows me fervently knows, I’m always looking for new ways to quantify performance within college and pro WoSo. Branching out on last season’s analysis before the NWSL Draft, I’ve gone a step further by creating a “Four Factors” metric designed to measure efficiency and potency of attacking players eligible for the draft. As a quick check against last year’s draft class, the majority of players at the top of the rankings were drafted.

So who’s eligible to be tracked and what are the factors?

Who’s eligible? Any player who scored ten goals this season that were NOT penalties.

The Factors:

SPG – Shots per Goal – How many shots does it take for a player to score?

SOG% – Shot on Goal Percentage – How many of the player’s shots force a goalkeeper into action?

50 – Goals Scored Against RPI Top 50 Teams

100 – Goals Scored Against RPI Top 100 Teams

Each player in an individual draft class is ranked against the other eligible players, with the top ranked player in a category receiving the most points. If there are ten eligible players and a player finishes at the top of the RPI Top 100 category, that player gets ten “points” in the rankings. In terms of the 50/100 categories, players who didn’t score against RPI Top 50/100 clubs get zero points for that category. Points for all four of the ranking categories are added together to come up with a grand total.

A word of caution: For the sake of my sanity, I have NOT lumped in everyone regardless of class. These rankings are meant as a comparison between players in the same class only. And as always, these aren’t meant as a be all, end all predictive metric.


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It’s one thing to have this class’ best forward. It’s another to have the top two in the Four Factor ratings. I don’t think anyone’s shocked by Makenzy Doniak topping these rankings, nor by the fact that she tops them by a fair amount. But strike partner Brittany Ratcliffe is almost as good in this class, and she’s tied for second with FSU’s Cheyna Williams, also unsurprisingly ranked highly. There’s also room for the underrated Cali Farquharson and Canadian international Janine Beckie near the top of this list. Striker problems in this class? No way.

There are also some serious sleepers for clubs to pursue, though both Leah Galton and Hannah Short may find their options greater back across the pond. Ashley Spivey and Liana Salazar are probably both better used as attacking midfielders, though the former proved shockingly effective as a center forward for UCF this year.

Question marks? They may reign over Jannelle Flaws, whose efficiency numbers were poor this season. Illinois fans may be rejoicing over Flaws’ potential return for a sixth season, but it may ultimately cost her in the NWSL Draft if she goes pro. Other highly thought of prospects with red flags include Canadian Ashley Campbell, another with poor efficiency numbers, and Cal Poly’s Elise Krieghoff, a flat-track bully with brutally bad efficiency numbers.


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There’s not too many near the bottom here that would surprise you, save Michigan’s Nicky Waldeck, who seems to have feasted on lesser opposition while delivering shaky efficiency numbers. The next biggest surprise on the negative side would probably be Ashley Hatch, another victim of the efficiency game, it would seem.

Surprising? Tyler Lussi of Princeton with some stellar numbers, made more impressive by the fact that the Ivy Leaguers don’t get as many matches to boost their numbers against top opposition. It’s also somewhat surprising to see Savannah Jordan, almost universally thought of as this class’ best forward down in fifth. Hayley Dowd didn’t get much attention with BC’s down season, but she looks to have star potential. Koree Willer of Iowa State may have played on a poor team, but her efficiency numbers were through the roof. It’ll be interesting to see if she can bump up her goals against top opposition numbers. Tabby Tindell of Florida Gulf Coast already looks like a draft dark horse through two seasons and could develop into a monster with some luck.

The queen of this class so far? Virginia Tech’s Murielle Tiernan, and by some margin. She’s picked up the reigns from Jazmine Reeves and may have first round potential in a few years if she keeps scoring at the rate she has thus far.


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Sample size is a serious issue with the Four Factor analysis, which is why this may look a little wonky. Gabby Stoian has the best numbers in terms of goals scored against top opposition but is held back a bit by her efficiency numbers. Unsurprisingly, fellow big program rookies Aly Moon and Frannie Crouse are near the top of the list, though Holy Cross’ Aly Spencer also makes an impressive showing. With a larger sample size though, I suspect Spencer would drop down the ratings due to her lack of goals against big opposition.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by Chris Henderson.

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