Monday, May 12, 2014

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 5/12/14

Grafton sophomore Chase Kapuscienski scores the game-winner in the closing seconds of the Indians' thriller against Worcester. (Click to enlarge)
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The regular season is winding down, and districts are closing in fast for newly realigned Central Massachusetts.

But before that, many teams across the region have unfinished business to attend to. For Grafton and Worcester, that means a league champion must still be crowned, and for most of the brutally competitive Midland A, that means grabbing a few more wins to become tournament eligible.

So, without further ado, here are this week's Power Rankings, along with games of the week (we've got a ton of them), and games with major playoff implications.

1. St. John's: 13-1, 1-0 Cathlic Conf.          Last Week: 1
2. Shrewsbury: 12-4, 8-1 Midland A          Last Week: 2
3. Westboro: 9-2, 7-2 Midland A                Last Week: 3
4. Algonquin: 9-5, 6-2 Midland A              Last Week: 5
5. Worcester: 11-1, 9-1 Mid-Mass.             Last Week: 4

In the Hunt: Grafton (11-5), Groton-Dunstable (7-6), Wachusett (8-8), Leominster (11-3), Tyngsboro (9-4), Tantasqua (8-7), Nashoba (6-8), St. Bernard's (10-7) Shepherd Hill (8-7), Northbridge (7-7), Blackstone Valley Tech (9-4)

St. John's suffered its first loss of the year Friday, but coming up short against the defending Division 2 state champion on their home field is nothing to be ashamed of. Something tells me the Pioneers will see Longmeadow again before all is said and done.

Shrewsbury had one of the more interesting weeks in the region, as the Colonials blew out Midland A rival Westboro on Tuesday, but then were shocked at home by Wachusett on Thursday. That gave Shrewsbury its only league loss, but two wins over Westboro clinch Midland A for the Colonials.

Shrewsbury then lost two one-goal heart breakers to out of district powers over the weekend, first falling 8-7 at Western Mass contender Minnechaug Friday, then to Eastern Mass foe Framingham by a score of 7-6 on Saturday.

Despite all this, Shrewsbury is still clearly the second-best team in the region.

Even Westboro coach Tom Baker says his team has a bit of a "Jekyll and Hyde" quality, but when the Rangers show up, as they did in the second half against scrappy Nashoba, they're as good as anyone. They'll get the chance to prove that this week with a trip to St. John's on Thursday, and a game against Grafton in the Northbridge High School Boys Lacrosse Charity Doubleheader on Saturday.

Algonquin moves up a spot in our rankings, and this past week was really the first time all season that they didn't face either one of the top-3 teams in CMass, or one of the best teams in the state out of region. But it was no break in the schedule, as Algonquin had to knock off suddenly dangerous Wachusett and steadily improving Grafton. Big games loom this week for the T-Hawks against a Nashoba team fighting for its playoff life, Shrewsbury and St. John's.

Finally, Worcester gets the final spot in our rankings, despite losing a thriller to Grafton on Saturday. How did the Warriors edge the Indians? Well, it was their only loss of the season, first of all, and the game was played at Grafton. Plus, that game was as back-and-forth a battle as I've seen all year.

We'll get a much anticipated rematch this Thursday when the two teams meet at Worcester's Foley Stadium. Assuming both teams take care of the other Mid-Mass. opponents on their schedule, that game will have title implications. If Grafton wins, they'll take the league crown outright, but if Worcester wins, it will be a split championship.

As for the rest of the teams out, it will be a huge week for most of them. All (except for Leominster and St. Bernard's) are fighting for their playoff lives, and will scratch and claw to get that 10th win.

Some big games to watch with tournament implications will be Wachusett's trip to St. Bernard's today, Northbridge's trip to Shepherd Hill on Tuesday, Nashoba's trip to Groton-Dunstable on Thursday, Shepherd Hill's trip to Tantasqua on Thursday, and Blackstone Valley Tech's trip to Northbridge Saturday. That will be the late game in the Rams' charity doubleheader.

Game(s) of the Week: Westboro at St. John's; Thursday at 3:45 pm. Algonquin at Shrewsbury; Thursday at 4 pm. Grafton at Worcester; Thursday at 6 pm. Westboro vs Grafton at Northbridge High School; Saturday at 5 pm.

As you can see, we've got a heck of a week ahead of us. Westboro-St. John's is simply a meeting of two of the best teams in Central Mass, and a possible playoff preview, while Algonquin badly needs a signature league win. It can get one against rival Shrewsbury, but the Colonials have to be hungry to get back on the winning trail as well.

Grafton's trip to Worcester will put the old Miss-Mass. power Indians (five straight league titles) against the upstart Warriors (won a combined 10 games the last eight seasons). Their first game was a doozy, and I would expect another great game Thursday night at Foley Stadium.

The Indians finish out their week against Westboro, in what should be an interesting game. Each team will be looking to seize some momentum heading into districts, and a win for either wold be big there.


Anonymous said...

Nashoba is at GD Thursday 7 p.m.

Joe Parello said...

Right you are. Sorry about that, but it is corrected now.