Monday, April 27, 2015

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 4/27/15

Shrewsbury poles, from left to right, Tim Hally, Chandler Couture and Sean Travers, along with goalie J.T. Rothera.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

To say that choosing a No. 1 for Central Mass lacrosse this week was difficult would be an understatement.

After all, last week's No. 1 St. John's both scored a huge 10-goal win over then-No. 2 Grafton, and lost 8-3 to cross-town rival Shrewsbury. The Colonials' win over St. John's was a statement, but it came just over a week after they lost to Mid-Wach A rival Algonquin, a team that Grafton beat earlier this year.

Basically, we have a consensus Top-4, but they've all beaten each other, and let's not forget about 5-1 Westboro, who played Shrewsbury to within a single goal, or undefeated Tyngsboro.

So yeah, no matter who I pick, I'm going to be both right and wrong. You could make a case for a bunch of teams at the top, but here are my Top-5 this week.

1. Shrewsbury: 7-3, 3-1 Mid-Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: No. 4

It's a "what have you done for me lately" world, and the Colonials have scored the biggest, and most recent, win in the region this year. The Colonial attack looks potent, led by senior Joe Buduo, and despite some injuries, the midfield just keeps producing, thanks to players like junior Casey Campanale stepping up.

Shrewsbury may also have the best group of poles in the region. Tim Hally is playing like an All-American right now, and his teammates Chandler Couture and Sean Travers aren't far behind. The Colonials look as complete as anybody, and they've shown grit bouncing back from a tough loss to Longmeadow in time to beat Minnechaug and St. John's.

2. Algonquin: 5-3, 3-0 Mid-Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: No. 3

Still, the Tomahawks are the current leaders in Mid-Wach A, and actually have an overtime win over the Colonials on their resume. Algonquin also has a nice win over Minnechaug, and played reigning Division 1 state champion Acton-Boxborough respectably last Tuesday.

With Mike Martens dominating at the faceoff-X, Gonk can control possession and, like Shrewsbury, the Tomahawks play great defense, led by poles Stu Bleck and Paul Nardone, along with star goalie Colton King. The question for them will be scoring. While they don't currently have a guy playing at the level of Buduo, they have several intriguing prospects that seem to be improving as the year goes on. Sophomore Zach Skowronek will be one to watch down the stretch, and senior Alex Sabel has already shown he can come up big when it matters most, scoring the overtime game-winner against Shrewsbury earlier this month.

3. St. John's: 6-2, 1-0 Catholic Conf. Division 2

Last Week: No. 1

The Pioneers began the week thrashing Grafton, and looked to have a stranglehold on the top spot in CMass. But my how a week, and a smothering Shrewsbury defense, can change things.

Still, you get the feeling that St. John's didn't play its best game Saturday, and certainly left a few goals on the field. Star attack Jared Ward is sure to bounce back, and middie Andrew Cox has too much talent to be held off the board again.

St. John's is as talented as anyone, but with the brutal schedule they play, there are going to be off days, even in rivalry games.

4. Westboro: 5-1, 2-1 Mid-Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: No. 5

The Rangers only played one game last week, a thrashing of overmatched Nipmic, but that's enough to move Westboro up a spot in our rankings. This week will be a great deal tougher as the Rangers hit the road to face league foe Groton-Dunstable, then return home to host league-leading Algonquin.

Senior Jack Pierce has been unstoppable the last couple times out, but Algonquin's back line will be the biggest test he and Westboro have faced since a near-loss to Shrewsbury. Can the Rangers break through this time around?

5. Grafton: 8-2, 6-0 Mid-Mass. Division 3

Last Week: No. 2

Grafton took the biggest tumble in this week's rankings, mostly due to health and the unfortunate timing of playing two fantastic opponents while they were beaten up. The 10-0 loss to St. John's in the rain was one thing, but the injury-plagued loss to fellow Division 3 contender Weston may have actually hurt more.

The Indians are still contenders in Division 3 Central/West, and beyond, but getting healthy will be priority No. 1, especially on defense. This week brings a sneaky tough game at Tantasqua, followed by a home date with Nipmuc, before Grafton hosts Shrewsbury next Monday.

In the Hunt: Tyngsboro (7-0), Nashoba (5-3), Worcester (4-3), Tantasqua (3-2), Groton-Dunstable (4-4)

The Tigers remain unbeaten, and picked up a huge 10-goal win over previously "in the hunt" Marlboro. Kyle Laforge and company continue to tear it up, averaging a league-high 16.7 goals per game, more than four goals better than the nearest contender. Looking at the rest of Tyngsboro's schedule, it's hard to find a loss, and it may be hard to hold the Tigers out of the Top-5 much longer.

Nashoba had a big week, scoring a home win over Worcester, then hitting the road to beat a feisty St. Bernard's squad. The Chieftains get back into league play this week with trips to Shrewsbury and Groton-Dunstable, then head to Leominster Saturday.

Worcester played Nashoba tough, but the Warriors need to bounce back against Mid-Mass. foes Hopedale and Northbridge before a huge home test Saturday against St. John's. Speaking of Mid-Mass, Tantasqua has been the surprise of that league, but the sample size is still far too small for us to know much about the Warriors. Still, sophomore Michael Frio's six-goal performance in a win over Western Mass staple Agawam shows that Tantasqua is not to be taken lightly, and they may be catching beaten and bruised Grafton at just the right time Tuesday.

Groton-Dunstable rounds things out, as the Crusaders rallied back to .500 with a nice win over Tewksbury. Still, G-D will need to steal a game this week against either Westboro (Tuesday) or Nashoba (Thursday) to maintain a tournament pace.


Anonymous said...

Grafton will be shored up, and healthy enough for Tantasqua. Grafton has demonstrated they are a true TEAM, and have rallied together nicely.

Anonymous said...

Not to down play Tyngsboro and I am happy they are doing so well this season, but they do have another against Littleton (who they beat by 1) and 2 against GD who play a much tougher schedule. So the possibility of a loss is there. Due to a football rivalry and "neighborhood" rivalry, I think the Tyngs/GD games will be pretty intense with outcomes in doubt.

Anonymous said...

Just a RemindeR That gd only had to go 500 in division three play

Joe Parello said...

Right you are about G-D, and forgot about this last year as well. D3 team in a D2 league. So, by the Sullivan Rule, they only need to go .500 vs D3. Thanks for the reminder. As for Tyngsboro, you're right that they will have some challenges, but man do they look good right now. The Littleton rematch and the G-D games should be fun.
And hey, I'm not one to ever doubt Grafton, just interested to see how they'll fare against a Tantasqua team that played them tough the first time around.

Anonymous said...

Due to the oddities of the MIAA and Central Mass Lacrosse, the MidWach A division is made up mostly of teams, who if they were in E Mass, would be Div 1 teams (same with St. Johns). While GD, the smallest of the MW A would probably be Div 2 in E Mass.

Anonymous said...

What grade is Laforge in?

Joe Parello said...

Laforge is only a sophomore. Bright future ahead of him as a goal scorer and faceoff guy.

Anonymous said...

heading out to any games today Joe?

Aleke Msumba said...

Lots of info to correlate Joe - I think your rankings and data inputs are spot on. Tough to assess the top 4 or 5 in Central MA. Shrewsbury is looking quite good these days. Hats of the defense and holding SJ to only 3 goals. I think Central Mass is unique in that many of the kids know each other from having played on the same teams in other sports. Hard not to root for kids you know on the other teams. I wish all the teams good luck with the rest of the season!

Joe Parello said...

No games for me today, got too much to do at my day job, lol. I'll be getting my first look at Westboro this Thursday when they host Algonquin. Gonna try to cover some more games in the coming weeks, but we'll see how things shake out.

Anonymous said...

who's the little guy playing at attack for shep hill ? got to be a freshman

Anonymous said...

Good to know Mr. Msumba is on the lookout and is correlating information. I agree, good luck to all in their quest for the great prize in the sky!!!