Monday, April 22, 2013

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 4/22/13

Hunter Burdick has helped lead St. John's back to the top of Central Mass

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

We are nearly a month into the lacrosse season in Central Massachusetts, and there have certainly been some surprises. St. John's, long a power in the region, has pushed its way back to the top behind the high-scoring trio of Drew Smiley, Josh Freilich and Hunter Burdick.

The Pioneers needed a defensive win over Shrewsbury, however, to barely edge two-time defending Central Mass champion Algonquin for the top spot. Still, don't sleep on the Tomahawks, who still haven't lost a game to a Central Mass foe since May of 2011.

That's 32 straight against Central Mass, if you're counting at home. The last team to beat the T-Hawks? St. John's.

Check out the rest of our rankings after the jump.

1. St. John's: 6-1, 3-0 Catholic Conference
2. Algonquin: 5-1, 3-0 Midland A
3. Shrewsbury: 8-1, 4-0 Midland A
4. Grafton: 6-2, 4-0 Mid Mass
5. Nipmuc: 6-1. 4-0 Mid Mass

In the Hunt: Blackstone Valley Tech (4-1), Assabet (4-1), Littleton (6-2), Westborough (3-2)

Nipmuc is a bit of a surprise arrival in our rankings. The Warriors were solid last season, but the majority of their 12 wins came against weaker competition. This season, Nipmuc has only defeated one team with a winning record (Milford), and I haven't gotten a chance to see them play yet.

But, I'm going to trust the Telegram & Gazette's Hometeam Media Poll, and throw Nipmuc in here.

Ps, during my time as sports editor at GoLocalWorcester, I was never invited to participate is said poll… Not that I'm bitter.

Anyways, Grafton checks in at No. 4, which I must admit is far lower than I thought I would see the Indians show up. With the most lethal 1-2 punch in Central Mass in Tyler Reilly and Bryan Rotatori, I thought Grafton would be pushing Algonquin for top billing. But, a tough loss to Westford Academy (the only team to beat Algonquin this season) and another to Shrewsbury have dropped the Indians a bit.

Despite St John's starting on top, it's hard to fathom Grafton and Algonquin not figuring into the championship equation come playoff time.

Game of the Week: St. John's at St. John's Prep (Danvers), Tuesday

This annual matchup of the two best schools in the state named St. John's has been a bit one-sided lately, with the Eastern school winning at least the last eight matchups (results don't go back before 2005). But, last year's game in Shrewsbury was a tight 10-9 decision for Danvers, and the Pioneers look like a deeper and better team this season, despite the loss of current Syracuse player Jeff Desko.

St. John's Prep is one of the best teams in talent rich Eastern Mass, and a win against them would soildify St. John's as the team to beat in CMass.

League Game of the Week: Algonquin at Shrewsbury, Tuesday

If you prefer to stay in the region for some great lacrosse, it will be tough to top this physical battle between the reigning CMass champs and a team that always plays them tough. Coach Nate Skermont and Shrewsbury love to slow the game down and grind out wins over opponents with fantastic defense and timely scoring.

As good as Algonquin is, the T-Hawks have only scored in double figures once this season, and Shrewsbury junior goalie Chris Gorman is playing better than anyone in Central Mass right now.

Early Season MVP: Chris Gorman, Shrewsbury, Junior Goalie

Did I mention that this kid is playing better than anyone in the region right now? Even including a 7-2 defeat to St. John's where Shrewsbury's offense never got going, Gorman is still allowing under 4 goals a game, and he has helped Shrewsbury hold opponents to three goals or less in five of Shrewsbury's nine games.

In the most impressive performance of the early season, Gorman stifled Grafton's prolific offense, holding the Indians to just six goals, and making an amazing 32 SAVES!

If Shrewsbury is to seriously contend for a Central Mass crown, Gorman will be a huge reason why.