Monday, May 5, 2014

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 5/5/14

St. John's junior Jared Ward exploded for 5 goals and 2 assists against Xaverian.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Most teams in Central Mass have hit the meat of their schedules, and the cream is rising to the top.

Perhaps no CMass team in recent memory has started a season as well as this year's St. John's club. The Pioneers completed a fantastic week with a 12-3 thrashing of reigning Division 1 state champion Xaverian. Earlier in the week, St. John's asserted its dominance in Central Mass with a 9-0 win over Shrewsbury, and defeated Eastern Mass rival St. John's Prep.

It was a coming out week of sorts for attackman Jared Ward. The junior, who spent last season on the St. John's JV, pumped in nine goals and dished out five assists in the three aforementioned St. John's victories. Ward's emergence, along with breakout performances from senior Steve Kerr in net and sophomore Andrew Cox in the midfield, have proven that the Pioneers present far more problems than just All American senior Drew Smiley.

It seems to be St. John;s and everybody else in Central Mass right now, but check out our Power Rankings to see where the region's other powers land.

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

In the Hunt: Grafton (9-4), Tantasqua (7-5), Groton-Dunstable (5-5), Tyngsboro (7-3), Leominster (7-3), Nashoba (4-7)

Shrewsbury and Westboro fall in after St. John's, and we'll get to see just who deserves that No. 2 spot when they meet this week. Worcester's Combined team just keeps on winning, but this week will bring road trips to scrappy Tantasqua Thursday and Mid-Mass. favorite Grafton Saturday

Algonquin's murderous schedule has not been kind to the T-Hawks, as they fell to Eastern Mass' Hingham, but this week brings a winnable home game against Wachusett and passable test at Grafton.

After the top-5, it's Grafton, who has found ways to keep its head above water during a rebuilding year, plus a bunch of teams that can't seem to find any consistency against better competition.

Game(s) of the Week: Westboro at Shrewsbury; Tuesday at 4 pm and St. John's at Longmeadow; Friday at 7 pm

Shrewsbury won a shootout with the Rangers the first time these two teams met, but I would expect a slightly lower scoring affair this time around. True, the Westboro offense is humming along behind the contributions of guys like Mike Gallo, Jake Foster and Kyle LeMack, but Shrewsbury goalie Chris Gorman has settled back in between the pipes, and star defenseman Griffin Couture is as good as anyone in the state.

On the other side, Shrewsbury has struggled to score against athletic defenses in recent weeks, and Westboro has found its groove on the defensive end, holding their last four opponents (Wachusett, Algonquin, Tantasqua and Hudson) to just 4.5 goals per game.

Friday night will bring what could have been the most anticipated regular season game in the state this year. Alas, reigning Division 2 state champion Longmeadow fell to Medfield this past weekend, ending a 37-game winning streak, and erasing the aura of invincibility that had surrounded the Lancers.

But no matter, this game is still a rematch of last season's Division 2 state semifinal, and could be a preview of this year's D2 Central/West final. Make no mistake about it, St. John's is a better team that it was last season, but have they improved enough to knock off one of the state's three best teams?


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