Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 CMass Lax Preview: Shrewsbury Colonials

Star goalie Chris Gorman (far left) is just one reason why the Colonials are known for defense.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The faces and names may change, but one thing doesn't for Shrewsbury lacrosse: The Colonials are going to play great defense.

So, even with captain and star defenseman Zach Thebeau gone to graduation, Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont doesn't expect his team to relinquish its spot atop the Central Mass defensive standings.

"The guys we have know our (defensive) system," Skermont said. "It's worked for us for years, and the guys really take pride in it. They have an attitude about it. They want to be known as a great defensive team."

Back on defense for the Colonials is senior Griffin Couture, one of the region's best defensemen from a year ago. The Colonials will look for his younger brother Chandler Couture, an emerging sophomore, to step in next to him, and Skermont expects big things from junior Sean Travers as well.

Throw in senior Tom Aulenback, and Shrewsbury will certainly not be lacking for defensive talent.

But even if opposing teams can break down the talented Colonial back line, they'll have to deal with one of the state's best goalies, senior Chris Gorman. After a sensational junior campaign, Gorman returns as the top goalie in CMass, and offers Skermont and the Colonials a luxury that most other teams in the region simply don't have.

"I think it's huge to bring Chris back," Skermont said. "Especially early on, because when you're practicing inside, you're not exactly pummeling your goalie with shots. I come in with familiarity and a comfort with him that other coaches don't have."

"His ability to make saves inside seven yards is as good as I've ever seen as a coach. He makes saves that you don't think should be made, whether it's a pass across the crease or a two-on-one, he always seems to make a huge save that changes momentum for us."

With a rare game changer between the pipes and talent on the back end, scoring would seem to be Shrewsbury's only concern. Skermont knows he won't fully be able to replace last season's leading scorers, then-seniors Cam Kerr and Luke Warner, but he likes the guys he has coming up on attack and in the midfield.

"Joe Buduo (Jr.) came up last year and ended up starting toward the end of the year with Cam and Luke, and he did a great job," Skermont said. "Teams are going to remember him from last year, so he won't be able to fly under the radar, but he's got great vision and does a nice job of creating for his teammates."

Skermont also spoke highly of junior Derick Tinsley, who has moved from midfield to attack, and says the chemistry between he and Buduo is evident. The midfield Tinsley left behind is still loaded with talent, as senior Derric Dell'Olio returns and hopes to build off a SuiteSports First Team All Star performance from a season ago.

Joining him in the midfield will be senior Jake Matys, a versatile midfielder that can create as well as defend, and face off specialist Seth Audet, who also stresses defenses by cutting to the cage.

With all these pieces coming into place, Skermont likes his team's chances to qualify for the new "Central/West" district playoffs in Division 2.

" We want to get into the district tournament, and once you're in, you realize that everyone has the same record," Skermont said. "We've also been talking about, any time you get the chance to compete, do it to your full potential. We don't have any friends in practice, we go full-go and really battle there."

Joe's Forecast

Shrewsbury is going to be a tough out in the tournament, but what else is new? The Colonials simply don't give up easy goals, and with Chris Gorman back for another go-around, I would expect Shrewsbury to again be the best defense in Central Mass.

But, can they generate goals? Kerr and Warner created so much for them last year, but this year's Colonial attack and offensive midfield may be deeper. Ultimately, it's going to come down to chemistry and experience. The talent and depth is there, but it's going to be on senior leaders like Dell'Olio and Seth Audet to put this thing together.

The Colonials should again be a Top-5 team in Central Mass, but if they're a little luckier with injuries this year and things break right, they could take home a district championship.

No comments :