Monday, March 31, 2014

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 2014 Preview

St. John's star Drew Smiley (left) will have to deal with an even tougher Westboro squad (right) in 2014.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

So, this preview is a little late for the teams that opened their 2014 seasons over the weekend, but most teams in Central Mass are gearing up for their openers early this week.

2014 will present new challenges for every team in Central Mass. With the new "Central/West" district in both Divisions 2 and 3, the best teams in CMass will now have to deal with Western Mass powers if they hope to win a district title.

That could prove incredibly problematic in Division 2, where reigning state champion Longmeadow looks to be a juggernaut out west. Still, Central Mass has several teams with district and state title aspirations.

Click below for our first Power Rankings of the season, and then check out our individual team previews after that.

Preseason Power Rankings

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

Keep an Eye On: Nashoba, Northbridge, Blackstone Valley Tech, Nipmuc, Wachusett, Littleton, Shepherd Hill

I'm going with Ric Flair's old line of "to be the man (whoooo!), you gotta beat the man." Right now, St. John's is the man, coming off a fantastic 2013 district championship. The Pioneers return one of the best attackmen in the state, and a midfield loaded with talent and postseason experience.

Algonquin is the region's other power, and while the T-Hawks have lost some experience from last season, they look as talented and hungry as ever. Westboro looks to be an emerging power, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers atop these rankings by season's end, but it's going to take continued improvement from their talented midfield.

Shrewsbury returns the region's best goalie, and should again be the best defense in Central Mass. There are some question marks up front, but with versatile players moving between attack and midfield, the Colonials should score enough to play with anybody.

Finally, Grafton has perhaps the biggest rebuilding job of any team in the state. The Indians lose two of the best scorers in state history in Tyler Reilly and SuiteSports' 2013 Player of the Year Bryan Rotatori.

Despite that, coach Alan Rotatori has got that program rolling, and as they showed in an opening day route of WMass power Amherst-Pelham, they're still a force to be reckoned with. Remember the name Chase Kapuscienski. He was just a role player last year, but his season-opening hat trick showed he's ready to carry Grafton's offense this season.

Individual Team Previews

The St. John's Pioneers

The Algonquin Tomahawks

The Westboro Rangers

The Shrewsbury Colonials

The Nashoba Chieftains

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