Monday, April 28, 2014

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 4/28/14

St. John's turned Shrewsbury away from the cage repeatedly Sunday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

With a dominating win Sunday, St. John's firmly established itself as the team to beat in Central Massachusetts.

The Pioneers played a nearly flawless game, blowing out rival Shrewsbury 9-0, but was it enough to send the Colonials tumbling down our Power Rankings? Find out after the jump.

1. St. John's: 9-0, 1-0 Catholic Conf.        Last Week: 1
2. Shrewsbury: 9-1, 5-0 Midland A           Last Week: 2
3. Westboro: 5-1, 4-1 Midland A               Last Week: 3
4. Worcester: 7-0, 5-0 Mid-Mass.              Last Week: 5
5. Algonquin: 6-3, 4-1 Midland A              Last Week: 4

In the Hunt: Grafton (7-4), Groton-Dunstable (4-4), Nashoba (4-6)

Let me make this clear: After what we saw from St. John's and Shrewsbury Sunday, it is obvious that the drop off from No. 1 to No. 2 is pretty big, but that doesn't mean the Colonials don't deserve the 2 spot.

Shrewsbury dominated both Algonquin and Grafton defensively, and won a shootout with Westboro, handing the Rangers their only loss of the season. While Shrewsbury was far from perfect against their cross-town rivals, that game was more about how good St. John's is than anything else.

Getting back to Westboro, and the Rangers are starting to hit the meat of their schedule. They'll host Tantasqua later today, but we'll see their first real test in weeks tomorrow when they host Algonquin. Speaking of the T-Hawks, they fall a spot in our rankings, but I get the feeling they can play up, or down, with anybody in CMass.

Gonk has nice wins over Western Mass power Minnechaug, Nashoba and a blowout over North Middlesex, but their brutal schedule has pitted them against powers like Westford and Acton-Boxborough that they just aren't able to beat this year. An 8-7 win over Hopkinton got them back on the winning trail last week, but a road trip that will take them to Westboro, Groton-Dunstable and Hingham this week will show us who they really are.

I keep saying it, but how 'bout them Worcester boys? The Warriors just keep on winning, and look poised for their first tournament run in a decade after grinding out a 4-3 win over Nashoba.

As for Nashoba, the Chieftains just can't seem to string wins together. They've lost to Shrewsbury, Westboro, Algonquin and Worcester all by exactly one goal, and couldn't beat a team of comparable talent in Groton-Dunstable two weeks ago. But you just get the feeling that if the schedule lightens up a little, Nashoba could go on a run and make the tournament.

That won't happen this week, as Shrewsbury awaits on Thursday.

G-D is coming off a tough loss of their own to EMass foe Tewksbury, but the Crusaders have taken care of business against Littleton, Nashoba and Tynsgboro, with all their losses in CMass coming against ranked foes. They're as good a bet as anybody to emerge from the middle of the pack.

Finally, there's Grafton, a team that looks to be in a funk right now. Perhaps the Indians are still recovering from their 10-1 loss at the hands of Shrewsbury, but I was surprised to see them go down to Wachusett. Everyone talks about all the offense they lost from last year's CMass Finalist team, but people forget that they lost a really good senior goalie and top pole from that team as well.

Still, I wouldn't look for coach Alan Rotatori's bunch to stay down for long, and this week's games against Northbridge and Nipmuc will bring tests the Indians can pass.

Game(s) of the Week: Xaverian at St. John's; Thursday at 4 pm

The Pioneers will actually host a pair of Eastern Mass Catholic Conference foes this week. They'll first welcome St. John's Prep on Tuesday, but the more anticipated of the two games will be when state title contender Xaverian comes to Shrewsbury Thursday.

The Hawks have been ranked No. 1 in the state at different points of the year by different publications (opened the year atop ESPN Boston's Top-25), and certainly have as much talent as anybody in Massachusetts. Led by Mr. Lacrosse contending middie Jack Wheeler and the high scoring Jake Cox, Xaverian will present St. John's with its biggest challenge of the season so far.

It will be on that St. John's defense, led by pole William Roberts and goalie Steve Kerr, to keep the Hawks at bay, and they will need continued stellar play from their midfield to control possession and give their attack opportunities to cash in.

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