Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Central Mass Lax Previews: Grafton Indians

Chase Kapuscienski celebrates a game-winner against Worcester last season.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Over the next few days I will be unveiling season previews of the top high school lacrosse programs in Central Massachusetts, leading up to the season opening in early April on what we can only hope will be snow-free fields.

We begin today with a program that has risen to prominence in recent years, and remained among the state's most consistent winners under the tutelage of coach Alan Rotatori. Grafton has come oh-so-close the last three years, falling in district championship games each of those seasons, but the Indians return a plethora of experience and talent this season as they begin another quest for a championship.

At a Glance

Key Returnees: Chase Kapuscienski, Jr. (A), Evan Johnston, Sr. (M), Connor Evans, Sr. (D), Cadrin Msumba, Jr. (G), Hunter Fraser, Jr. (A), Cole Fontana, Jr. (A), Youki Azuma, Sr. (D), Dan Bartosiewicz, So. (D), Matt O'Brien, Sr. (M/FO)

The Indians were, in a lot of ways, ahead of schedule last year. Led by then-sophomore attack Chase Kapuscienski, Grafton grabbed a share of the Mid-Mass. title after splitting the season series with upstart Worcester.

This year the Indians will again look for Kapuscienski to lead the attack, and he'll have classmate Hunter Fraser next to him to again terrorize Mid-Mass. Middie Evan Johnston should again be one of the region's most balanced players, while Matt O'Brien should pick up where he left off as one of the region's best at the faceoff-X. The back end should also be among the region's best, with a unique blend of talent and experience.

Junior goalie Cadrin Msumba was one of the Central MA's best last year at a loaded position, while senior Youki Azuma and sophomore Dan Bartosiewicz return in front of him to lead a potentially dominant defense.

Early Season Game to Watch

Things should really kick into gear next Tuesday when Grafton takes on the Worcester Warriors, though snow may get in the way of everybody's early season games. These two squads played a pair of one-goal thrillers last season, with Grafton winning the first on a last-second Kapuscienski goal, and Worcester taking the second on an overtime score from Jack Gallagher.

The Indians return the vast majority of last year's team, and no doubt want to prove that Mid-Mass. belongs to them, and only them. Worcester still features plenty of holdovers from last year's historic group, including high-scoring attack James Bowler and star goalie Sean Moran, so the Warriors and Indians should again play a classic.

Joe's Forecast

Grafton came up just short of its first ever district title last year, and that was supposed to be a "rebuilding year." Throw that out the window, because this program is now at the point where it "reloads." The Indians should be the class of Central Mass in Division 3, and only the team they lost to last year in the D3 Central/West final, explosive Mt. Greylock, led by the state's leading scorer Michael McCormack, seem to be in their league right now.

I'd look for the Indians to again grab at least a share of the Mid-Mass. title, before gearing up for a deep tournament run. The Grafton defense actually slowed Mt. Greylock in last year's 7-4 defeat, and another year under Kapuscienski's and Fraser's belts mean the tables could turn should the two teams meet again.

This team is district championship material, but the Indians know they have to put it all together.


Anonymous said...

The opening game against Hopedale is canceled because administration has yet to come up with a plan to clear the beautiful turf fields. Shame on them!

Joe Parello said...

Well that's a shame, but thanks for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Nashoba certainly showed Grafton a thing or two on Thursday both squads have a big season to look forward to

Anonymous said...

Winning by two in a scrimmage is not a blowout.

Anonymous said...

Nashoba's keep was outstanding! Nice game!!

Joe Parello said...

Haha, I obviously didn't see the scrimmage, but Chieftain keeper Robby Atwood is a heck of a player. More previews to come, so I'll get to him and his teammates soon.

Anonymous said...

Joe you forgot face off man Matt O'Brien, and close defenseman Dan Bartosiewicz. Two studs

Joe Parello said...

I had them in the "At a Glance" section, but you're right, they deserve a mention in the story itself. Grafton just has so many good players coming back this year, it will be fun to see the jump they've made collectively from last season.

Anonymous said...

Without putting Dan Bartosiewicz on defense and Matt O'Brien on midfield ahead of the others is not correct. Both should definitely be on the list.