Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Central Mass Lax Previews: Shrewsbury Colonials

Shrewsbury celebrates its playoff win over rival St. John's last year.
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 began with the Grafton Indians, and continue our look around the region with reigning Division 2 Central/West champion Shrewsbury. The Colonials rode a wave of momentum all the way to the D2 state semifinals last year, but must replace some key pieces, especially on the back end, to repeat as district champs. Luckily for Shrewsbury, it still has plenty of talent returning throughout, and a number of players with big-game experience.

At a Glance

Key Returnees: Joe Buduo, Sr. (A), Derick Tinsley, Sr. (A), Jack Campanale, Sr. (A), Tim Hally, Sr. (D/LSM), Chandler Couture, Jr. (D), Alex Chin, Sr. (M)
Key Losses: Chris Gorman (G), Derric Dell'Olio (M), Griffin Couture (D), Tom Aulenback (LSM/D)

Shrewsbury's upset of regional power and cross-town rival St. John's in last season's D2 CW semifinals will likely go down as the biggest win in program history. Well, that game, or the district title clinching win against Westfield that followed. Either way, last year was a historic one for the Shrewsbury program, and it would be asking a lot for this year's team to re-create that magic.

But they have the ability.

Returning up front are two guys that, in many ways, sparked the Colonial offense during that amazing playoff run. Joe Buduo announced his presence to the region with a huge postseason, including the game-winner against Westfield, and Derick Tinsley, among other things, scored the game-winning goal against St. John's.

Shrewsbury certainly has as much talent, experience and confidence up front as anybody in the region, but the challenge for this team will be replacing talent in the midfield, on defense and in the cage.

A stabilizing presence is now gone as all-around middie Derric Dell'Olio is about 15 minutes away continuing his career at Assumption College, and LSM/D Tom Aulenback's presence on defense and ground balls will need to be replaced as well. A huge void must be filled as the region's top pole from a year ago, the physical Griffin Couture, has graduated as well, and between the pipes, the program's best goalie ever Chris Gorman leaves some big shoes to fill.

There are some natural fits to step in right away. A bigger defensive load may now be placed on Griffin's younger brother Chandler, and Tim Hally showed up big time in the playoffs last year. Both of those guys will be asked to lead a largely rebuilt defense, and there is enough talent in the pipeline to believe that coach Nate Skermont will find answers in the midfield.

And, as I was just notified on Twitter by Tim Hally, Alex Chin is also returning in the midfield, which should give the Colonials a possession presence and added scoring punch. Chin came on strong last postseason as well with critical goals against Minnechaug and St. John's in the CW quarters and semis.

Early Season Game to Watch: April 14th vs Algonquin

Hard to call this an early season game, since Shrewsbury will have already been tested against Groton-Dunstable and Wachusett by this point, but Colonial-Tomahawk games are always a physical and entertaining affair. Both programs have excelled on defense throughout their respective histories, but it could be the offenses that take over this one, as Buduo and Tinsley look to shoot it out with Algonquin senior middie Paul Luongo and sophomore attack Zach Skowronek.

The T-Hawks bring a ton back from a team that ended last season strong, and there's no doubt they want to pay Shrewsbury back for not only snapping a six-game losing streak to the T-Hawks, but for sweeping them for the first time ever.

Joe's Forecast

Shrewsbury comes into 2015 as a polar opposite of where they were at the beginning of 2014. Before last season, the Colonials were littered with talent and experience in the back end and midfield, were looking for answers at attack, and had a proverbial chip on their collective shoulder. This season, Shrewsbury returns a pair of experienced attack players that can score with anybody, but need to find some fresh faces in the midfield, will look for expanded roles from their poles, and must ride a first-year starting goalie.

It won't be easy in a brutal Mid-Wach A that features perennial contenders like Algonquin, Westboro, Groton-Dunstable and Wachusett, but Shrewsbury should pack enough of a scoring punch to play with anyone. Plus, if there's one thing coach Skermont has been able to do the last few years, it's get his teams to play defense. With the returning talent on D, you have to believe the Colonials will again be among the region's best on that end.

It's tough to say they'll capture another league or district title, just because Algonquin's young team looks like it may come of age this season, and you know St. John's will be reloaded, but put the Colonials in the mix with those two teams (along with Western Mass power Longmeadow) for the D2 CW championship.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Nashoba is sure to be competitive this year with a young team and plenty of returning players from last year.