Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CMass Lax All-Stars and Award Winners 2013

Jake Foster (left) and Mike Gallo (right) were integral parts of Westboro's outstanding midfield. Also, those Wounded Warrior fundraiser jerseys get my vote for uniforms of the year.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

A spectacular year of Central Mass high school lacrosse came to an end when St. John's fell to eventual D2 state champion Longmeadow in the state semifinals, but many players had seasons to remember.

Whether it was a multi-year starter finishing a fine career, or someone stepping into a new role and excelling, players across the region made their presences known to not only Central Mass, but the entire state.

Please keep in mind that, unfortunately, I only began covering games for ESPN Boston and BostoLaxNet midway through the season, so I didn't get to see every team and player. So, while I made every attempt to research the teams I didn't see, some deserving players may not be honored here. I apologize in advance.

Now, let's take a look at the CMass Lax Suite Stars and my award winners for 2013.


First Team

Tyler Reilly, Grafton, SR 
Danny Johnson, Littleton, SR
Drew Smiley, St. John's, JR

Second Team

Hunter Burdick, St. John's, SR
James Broomfield, Nipmuc, SR
Luke Warner, Shrewsbury, SR

Third Team

Kyle Elkins, Nashoba, SR
Cam Kerr, Shrewsbury, SR
Quinton Forbes, Groton-Dunstable, JR

You could make very strong cases for Westboro's Tony Cibelli, Nipmuc's Colin Jackson and St. John's star Josh Freilich, but the nine guys above were pretty darn outstanding. Some might gripe about the First Team status of Littleton's Danny Johnson, but the kid was CMass' only 100 point scorer, and he was just as lethal as a creator as he was a goal scorer. That's first team stuff in my book.

Reilly and Burdick were All-Americans, and you can read more about them here.

Smiley is the most physically impressive player in the region, and he'll return for another exciting year at St. John's already committed to play for the Naval Academy in college. Broomfield helped lead a resurgence at Nipmuc, and Forbes helped Groton-Dunstable score a few impressive wins in the brutal Mid-Wach A, while everything on the Nashoba offense ran through Kyle Elkins.

The Shrewsbury duo of Warner and Kerr helped the Colonials reach the CMass semifinals, and showed there was more to their team than defense.


First Team

Bryan Rotatori, Grafton, SR
Jake Foster, Westboro, SO
Derric Dell'Olio, Shrewsbury, JR

Second Team

Mike Gallo, Westboro, JR
Kevin Butler, St. John's, JR
Jake Scearbo, Algonquin, SR

Third Team

Mike Halloran (LSM), Algonquin, SR
Tom Lawton (FO), Westboro, SR
Jake Farland (LSM), Tantasqua, JR

Rotatori was probably the most complete player in the region, and Dell'Olio provided a nice scoring punch for the Colonials. Only a sophomore, Foster was the best player in the region's best midfield at Westboro, alongside dangerous scorer Mike Gallo and the region's premier face-off specialist Tom Lawton.

Butler and Scearbo each came on strong down the stretch for their respective power programs, and Halloran was fantastic at LSM for Algonquin. Rounding out the list is Tantasqua LSM Jake Farland, who turned some heads this season with his defense and passing.


First Team

Aidan Fox, St. John's, SR
Brennan Pierce, Algonquin, SR
Jon Coughlin, Grafton, SR

Second Team

Zach Thebeau, Shrewsbury, SR 
Eric Iacaboni, Wachusett, SR 
Tony Phillips, Westboro, SR

Third Team

Griffin Couture, Shrewsbury, JR
A.J. Dufresne, Groton-Dunstable, JR
Bryan Nelson, St. John's, JR

Fox and Pierce garnered most of the attention, but Coughlin's outstanding play was a huge part of Grafton's success this season. Thebeau and Phillips helped their respective programs finish near the top of CMass in defense, and Iacaboni was a bright spot for a Wachusett team that endured a rough year.

Couture was a complimentary defender for Shrewsbury, but there's a reason the Colonials led the region in goals against average, and Dufresne commanded Groton-Dunstable's back line. Nelson edges out several other complimentary defenders for the job he and Fox twice did against Grafton's All-American duo of Tyler Reilly and Bryan Rotatori. You're never going to shut those two down, but St. John's did about as well as you could hope for in containing them.


First Team

A.J. Arnold, St. John's, SR
Giles Ober, Algonquin, SR

Second Team

Chris Gorman, Shrewsbury, JR
Dan Terry, Westboro, SR

Third Team

Eric Thompson, Grafton, SR
Zach Livingston, Northbridge, JR

Ok, call this a cop-out if you want, but choosing between Ober and Arnold is darn near impossible. Heck, choosing those two guys over Gorman and Terry, who were fantastic this year as well, was hard enough.

Thompson split duties early on with fellow senior Connor Rynning, but he took over in net for the Indians' biggest games. Both were all-star caliber goalies, but only Thompson could make the cut here. Livingston was impressive between the pipes all year for Northbridge, and helped lead the Rams to a few key late-season wins and a playoff berth.

Player of the Year: Bryan Rotatori, Grafton, SR

The Grafton middie is a two-time All-American and finished his career as the state's 10th all-time leading scorer, but this isn't a lifetime achievement award. Rotatori did the most for his team of any player in the region, handling face-offs, facilitating offense, grabbing ground balls and defending.

Rotatori again led the Indians to the CMass title game, and Grafton took eventual champion St. John's to overtime before bowing out. Alongside longtime teammate Tyler Reilly and under the tutelage of his father Alan, Rotatori helped raise the Grafton program to new heights. His 74 points (32G, 42A) were special, but only part of the story. With his combination of numbers and intangibles, Rotatori is sure to go down as one of the region's all-time greats.

Defensive Player of the Year: Aidan Fox, St. John's, SR

Slowing down Grafton wasn't easy this year, but St. John's was able to do it twice. Senior defenseman Aidan Fox was huge in those games, snatching up launched balls on the break and keeping the Indian attack away from the cage all day, but he was a consistent force against opposing teams' top offensive players all season.

While St. John's is mostly known for it's phenomenal attack, if not for Fox and goalie A.J. Arnold, the Pioneers probably would not have emerged as one of the state's best teams this year.

Breakout Player of the Year: Jake Foster, Westboro, SO

Foster broke out around the same time his entire team did just past midseason, and his shot was as lethal as anybody's in the region. Foster notched multiple hat tricks down the stretch, and his 29 goals placed him second on the team behind senior attackman Tony Cibelli.

While he will work to improve as a passer and creator in coach Tom Baker's freelance offense, Foster's knack for finding the back of the net makes the sophomore the most intriguing player to watch in Central Mass for the next couple of years.