Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 Central Mass Lax Previews: The Dark Horses

Worcester senior attack James Bowler.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

I've already unveiled my previews of the regional favorites, and you can check out profiles on Algonquin, Grafton, Shrewsbury, St. John's and Westboro in our SuitePreps section to get caught up.

But, inevitably, somebody else will emerge to challenge those so-called favorites. In Division 2, the Tomahawks, Colonials and Pioneers will have plenty of competition, whether it be from a suddenly respected Worcester squad, or the now mature Chieftains of Nashoba.

In Division 3, look for explosive squads like Groton-Dunstable, Tyngsboro and St. Bernard's to challenge Grafton, along with a stable of Eastern and Western Mass teams that will all be fighting for a spot in the state title game.

Division 2 Central/West


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Tyler Cuddahy, Sr. (A) 
Key Losses: Andrew Bouchard (A), Cam Cordio (A), Kenny Delgado (M), Keenan Vella (D), Alex Brown (G)

Quick Take: Leominster enjoyed a historic two-year run of playoff berths in 2013 and 2014, thanks in large part to a class of players that included prolific scorers Andrew Bouchard and Cam Cordio, along with smothering pole Keenan Vella. The Blue Devils lose a ton of firepower and leadership, but senior Tyler Cuddahy returns to help usher in a new era of Leominster lacrosse under coach Colin Davis.


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Casey Elkins, Sr. (M), Eric Demmer, Sr. (A), Mike Czekanski, Jr. (A), Kurt Arsenault, Sr. (D), Kraig Arsenault, Sr. (D), Robbie Atwood, Jr. (G)
Key Losses: Mike d'Entremont (A)

Quick Take: The Chieftains should be able to defend with the best of them as talented keeper Robbie Atwood returns for his junior season, and the Arsenault brothers set up a fantastic line of defense in front of him. Casey Elkins does a little bit of everything and a promising attack led by Demmer and Czekanski appears on the verge of a breakthrough.

Shepherd Hill

At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Devin Pietz, Jr. (A), Tanner Amico, Sr. (A)
Key Losses: David Bianculli (M)

Quick Take: The Rams lose MIAA Central leading scorer Davis Bianculli, but should still pack a scoring punch with junior attack Devin Pietz returning for another big season. Questions abound for a team looking to get back to the playoffs, but Shepherd Hill seems to have enough firepower to again reach the state tournament.


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Mike Fritschy, Jr. (A), Cody Dickinson, Sr. (A)
Key Losses: Tom Bishop (LSM), Connor Dawson (M), Matt Macera (D)

Quick Take:
The Mountaineers lose a ton of experience and toughness from last year's squad, but may actually improve up front, even with the loss of leading scorer Connor Dawson. Mid-Wach A looks to be brutal this year, but Wachusett has the talent to play with the league's top teams.


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: James Bowler, Sr. (A), Sean Moran, Sr. (G), Quinn Robert, Sr. (A), C.J. Gallagher, So. (D)
Key Losses: Jack Gallagher (A), Jahmal Bryan-Massop (M), Brandon Hanlon (M), Nabeel Tokalti (M)

Quick Take: The Warriors enjoyed a historic season in 2014, and return enough talent to again make the postseason this year. Leading scorer James Bowler is back to terrorize Mid-Mass, along with star goalie Sean Moran. Worcester has plenty of holes to fill from last year's special group, but we've learned not to count the Warriors out.

Division 3 Central/West


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Patrick Ducey, Sr. (D), Chandler Brooks, Jr. (A), Matt Deluca, So. (A)

Quick Take: The Rams appear to be on the verge of making the playoffs after a near-miss in 2014. Led by Ducey, Northbridge's defense could rival that of Worcester and Grafton's in Mid-Mass, but will the Rams have the scoring power to keep up with the better teams in the region? If Deluca makes a big jump as a sophomore, they just might be able to, and just might be a team nobody wants to see early in the tournament.

St. Bernard's

At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Curtiss Vachon, Jr. (A), Zach Bingham, Jr. (A)
Key Losses: Nick Nelson (A), Connor McKew (G)

Quick Take: Vachon led the region with 77 goals a season ago, and opposing coaches are running out of ways to keep him away from the cage. The offense should again be explosive with Bingham back up front as well, but finding a replacement for McKew between the pipes will be key if St. B's is to again make the tournament.

Division 3 Central/East


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Zach Cotoni, Sr. (A), P.J. Kendall, Sr. (G)
Key Losses: Quintin Forbes (M), Tristan Lynch (M), A.J. Dufresne (D), Austin Hourani (A)

Quick Take: G-D loses All-American Quintin Forbes, but high-scoring attack Zach Cotoni returns to once again power the Crusader offense. P.J. Kendall returns to anchor what should again be a solid Crusader back line, and a tough schedule inside Mid-Wach A should again have the Crusaders battle-tested come playoff time.


At a Glance-
Key Returnees: Kyle Laforge, So. (M), Austin Coene, Sr. (A), Dave Walker, Sr. (A)
Key Losses: Ben Foley (M), Kyle Butler, Austin Castagno, Justin Maher

Quick Take:
Ben Foley was an academic All-American, and the versatile middie did a little bit of everything for the Tigers last year. Even without him, Tyngsboro still has the look of a team that can score on anyone (they led CMass in goals scored a season ago), and run with any team in Division 3.

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