Friday, June 6, 2014

Central Mass Lax District Championship Previews

Grafton goalie Cadrin Msumba
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Boys high school lacrosse teams in Central Massachusetts qualified for postseason play in three of the newly realigned MIAA tournament districts, across two divisions, and now CMass has a chance to win all three of them.

Shrewsbury's shocking win over St. John's Tuesday means they're the last man standing in Division 2, and they'll play for a title in D2 Central/West, while Grafton and Groton-Dunstable are both still playing in their respective districts in Division 3.

Heck, we may get an all CMass state semifinal if those two teams can pull off mild upsets, starting with Grafton tonight.

Here is a look at all the teams still traveling down the #RoadToBU.

Division 2 Central/West

Shrewsbury vs Westfield; Saturday, 5 pm at Foley Stadium

Shrewsbury is one of the hottest teams in the state, riding a seven-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling upset over cross-town rival St. John's in the D2 CW semis. But, the Colonials will have to deal with another team riding a wave of momentum.

After losing two games to state power Longmeadow, with neither being very competitive, Westfield shocked everyone in the state by knocking the Lancers off by a score of 9-8 in the other D2 CW semifinal.

These two teams are similar in their physical style and defensive dominance, but also in their stellar play late in the season. If the Colonials are to advance, they'll need All-American goalie Chris Gorman to stand on his head against a red-hot Bomber attack, and the Colonials will need to continue their offensive tear to find success against Westfield All-American goalie Jake Cupak.

Key Player: Griffin Couture, D, Shrewsbury

The goalies will get the pub going into this one, but pole Griffin Couture, an All-American snub in my estimation, will likely get the difficult task of containing Westfield's Matt Chiastawa and keeping him away from the cage.

Chiastawa scored five goals against the outstanding Longmeadow defense on Tuesday, but I doubt he's seen a defender like Couture yet this season. If Couture can body him up and play physical with him, the Colonials will be in great shape defensively.

Division 3 Central/West

Grafton vs Mt. Greylock; Friday, 6:30 pm at West Springfield High School

Grafton has been rolling along in D3 CW, but the Indians will get a real test tonight against Western Mass power Mt. Greylock. The Mounties, despite being the No.1 seed in the district, have had a much tougher rode to the final, edging Springfield Cathedral in OT in the semis, and taking out St. Bernard's in the quarters.

It could end up being a showdown between two high-scoring attackmen as Grafton's Chase Kapuscienski is looking to make his postseason mark as only a sophomore, but Mt. Greylock's Michael McCormack is scoring at a historic rate.

How historic? Well, nobody in Massachusetts lacrosse history has EVER scored as many point as McCormack, and his numbers (169 points on 117 goals and 52 assists) are nearly impossible to comprehend.

Key Player: Cadrin Msumba, G, Grafton

So, naturally, the Indians will need a big day from their outstanding goalie. Msumba has often been overlooked because of guys like Gorman and Steven Kerr from St. John's, but he's had an outstanding year, allowing only 5.37 goals per game, and making several game changing saves in wins over Worcester and Shepherd Hill.

Obviously, it will take a total team effort to slow down McCormack and the Mounties, but a solid day in net from Msubma is an absolute must if the Indians are to pull off the upset.

Division 3 Central/East

Groton-Dunstable vs Dover Sherborn; Saturday, 4 pm at Dover Sherborn

Out of all the CMass teams still playing, Groton-Dunstable may have the most daunting task. Dover Sherborn played D2 state title favorite Medfield to the wire twice, and blew out very good North Andover and Franklin teams on the road.

Indeed the Raiders have the look of a team that would be feared in Division 2, never mind D3, but Groton-Dunstable knows a little something about brutal competition.

The Crusaders were the only Division 3 team in Mid-Wach A, and had to face a bevy of D2 state title contenders in Shrewsbury, Westboro, and Algonquin, while taking on St. John's, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro out of league play.

Each of these teams has faced its fair share of upper-level competition, but it is the Raiders who enter this D3 CE final as considerable favorites, thanks to their greater success against a brutal slate. Still, the Crusaders have the talent to shock the state.

Heck, even I was shocked by G-D in the last round. Not because they upset Arlington Catholic, but because they dispatched the Cougars so easily. I knew the Crusaders would be a tough out for anybody, but blowing out a highly ranked team in the semis proved that they're more than that: Groton-Dunstable is a contender.

Key Player: Quintin Forbes, M, Groton-Dunstable

Let's not over think this: Forbes is a senior, an All-American and the leader of this team. In the Crusaders' biggest game of the year, they will look to their best player to lead them to victory.

Forbes is certainly capable of that, and when he's playing well everybody on Groton-Dunstable benefits. His 38 assists were tops in Mid-Wach A, and he has proven over the last few years to be one of the most complete middies in the state.

It certainly seems like a tall task for the Crusaders to knock off Dover Sherborn, but a big day from Forbes would be one of the main ingredients in an improbable Groton-Dunstable win.


Anonymous said...

I would love to hear Parello's opinion on who is better. Msumba or Moran?

Joe Parello said...

Haha, you'll just have to wait until I make my All-Star selections. I'd definitely put them both in the Top-5 of CMass though.

Anonymous said...

Msumba had one of those season's where a player only gets better as the season grinds on. His awareness, leadership skills, and game management were invaluable.