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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Yazdan Basir ’23 brings men’s soccer stats to life

Yazdan Basir ’23 creates models to help the men’s soccer team visualize its statistics. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Today)

Every time a member of Lafayette’s men’s soccer team takes a shot during a game, senior Yazdan Basir sees a dot. If the shot goes wide, the dot is blue; if it hits the post, the dot is white. And if the player puts it in the back of the net, the dot is green.

This is just one of the several ways that Basir has modeled the soccer team’s data in recent weeks.

Basir, a mathematics major with a background in computer science and a passion for soccer, began looking for related research openings when an opportunity fell into his lap: the soccer team was looking for a student with his background to model and interpret their data from last season.

The soccer team uses a program called Wyscout, which uses cameras set up by the field to tag players and track statistics like shots, passes and saves for each player, which it then transfers into an interactive spreadsheet. Basir then works to interpret the data, model it in a helpful way for the team and explain what conclusions can be drawn.

For example, one of Basir’s tasks has been plotting all the shots taken by Lafayette players over their 19 games last season. After extracting them from Wyscout, he placed them in a model soccer field, allowing him to visualize from where on the field most shots are coming.

“We’ve mostly been looking at: what kind of shots are the guys taking?” Basir explained. “Who is taking good shots and who’s taking bad shots? Where are the guys taking shots from?”

The list goes on. More specifically, Basir’s model can tell the team who is scoring goals and from where on the field they are most successful. The data can be broken down by individual players to see how they performed over the course of the season, or it can be broken down by game to analyze how successful or unsuccessful a particular game plan was.

With this model, Basir can look at a particular dot, or shot on goal, and relay several pieces of important information. “This one,” Basir said, pointing to a red dot on the screen, “the goalkeeper saved the ball. It had a fourteen percent chance of going in. It came from across on the right side. It was against Lehigh in the twenty-third minute at home.”

Basir’s model shows where on-the-field shots came from, including whether they went wide, were saved, hit the post or went in the net. (Photo courtesy of Yazdan Basir ’23)

Assistant men’s soccer coach Charlie Johnson gave an example of how helpful Basir’s analysis could be helpful for players looking to make adjustments.

“We can show [a player] the stats that Yazdan gave us like, ‘Hey, you scored your goals inside the eighteen and [you] took a lot of shots outside the 18-yard box,’” he said. “So we just want to show him that this is a good probability shot because you’re very successful here rather than shooting from eighteen yards out and further.”

According to Johnson, Basir can tell the team not only where the shots are taken, but how the scoring opportunities are created.

“He pretty much goes into the weeds and thick of it in terms of the stats and helps pull trends from it or areas of improvement as well,” he said.

As he moves forward with the project, Basir will work on the defensive and offensive statistics, helping the team to determine the “weak spots” when it comes to letting up goals.

Basir and Johnson agree that the visual data allows team members to reach conclusions they might not otherwise be able to.

“One thing I’ve noticed in these past few weeks is the coaches almost have one idea or one perception of some player or some game maybe, and then when we build the plot together and look at the graph, that’s not what happened,” Basir said.

“You can only notice so much from [being] a soccer coach,” Johnson said. “So he helped pull the data and notice deeper trends that I wouldn’t notice or [head coach Dennis Bohn] wouldn’t notice.”

Johnson hopes Basir’s work will show students that there are opportunities for students with similar interests across Lafayette’s current sports programs.

Correction 03/25/23: A previous version of this article stated the surname of head men’s soccer coach Dennis Bohn was Vaughn. This article has been updated with the correct surname.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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  • A

    Amos Han '14Mar 24, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    Just saw this. Head coach Dennis’s last name is Bohn, last Vaughn.

    • A

      Amos Han '14Mar 31, 2023 at 8:41 am

      Bohn, not Vaughn*