Monday, May 11, 2015

CMass Lax Power Rankings: 5/11/15

Groton-Dunstable middie Zach Cotoni tries to shake Tyngsboro pole Ryan Richardson.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

These Power Rankings should serve as a weekly reminder that there is no consensus No. 1 in Central Mass, and that the region may be the most competitive and wide-open it has even been this season.

And it's not for a lack of stellar teams. Both Shrewsbury and St. John's proved themselves out of region this week as the Colonials knocked off Hockomock foe Sharon, and the Pioneers nearly defeated Catholic Conference power Xaverian for the second year in a row.

Algonquin bounced back from a loss to Nashoba to defeat Shrewsbury in OT for the second time this year, and Groton-Dunstable upset Tyngsboro, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.

There was sure to be some shakeup in this week's rankings, but if you don't believe me that the region is wide-open, check out Telegram & Gazette reporter Carl Setterlund's CMass Lax Top-10.

Carl clearly knows his Central Mass sports, and this is a fine Top-10… Now I'm going to disagree with the vast majority of it. With so many good teams this year, beauty is in the eye of the beholder in Central Mass lacrosse.

1. Algonquin: 10-4, 6-1 Mid-Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: No. 2

It wasn't a great start to the week for Algonquin, who lost at Nashoba 13-9, but the T-Hawks were back to playing suffocating defense two days later in an overtime win against Shrewsbury. The win put Algonquin in the driver's  seat for a Mid-Wach A title, and the Tomahawks followed up that performances with a dominant win over Eastern Mass foe Westford.

Gonk goes back into league play tomorrow against a suddenly red-hot Groton-Dunstable team, then faces always dangerous Wachusett Thursday, before next week brings a massive showdown with old rival St. John's and a final league game against Westboro.

2. Shrewsbury: 12-4, 6-2 Mid-Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: No. 1

For the second time this season the Colonials fell to Algonquin 5-4 in overtime, and for the second time this year they turned around and won a close game against a good team just days later. The first time around Shrewsbury bounced back to beat Westboro 9-8, and this time the Colonials responded with an overtime win over Hockomock power Sharon.

It took a breakout day from sophomore Matt Ward (5 goals) and another brilliant campaign from Joe Buduo (3G, 2A, the overtime game winner), but the Colonials are right back in the thick of things.

3. St. John's: 10-3, 1-0 Catholic Conf. Division 2

Last Week: No. 3

The Pioneers enjoyed a solid week, beginning last Monday with a thumping of Western Mass power Minnechaug, and continuing with the best "near-win" of the season in Central Mass. St. John's fell just short at Xaverian, 11-10, but bounced back to handle football rival Leominster. This week brings another set of out of region tests, as the Pioneers will first host always talented Westford, then try their luck against Western Mass favorite Longmeadow.

4. Grafton: 10-4, 8-1 Mid-Mass. Division 3

Last Week: No. 5

The Indians continue to weather a storm of injuries, but acquitted themselves very well against Shrewsbury early last week. This Friday's game against Westboro will tell us if Grafton is truly back as the Indians gear up for a run in the Division 3 Central/West tournament.

5. Groton-Dunstable: 8-5, 4-4 Mid-Wach A. Division 3

Last Week: Unranked

You may not have noticed, but the Crusaders are one of the hottest teams in the region, winning five of their last six, with impressive victories over Tewksbury, Westboro, Nashoba and Tyngsboro to their name over that stretch. G-D has now locked up a playoff berth in Division 3 Central/East, thanks to clinching a winning record against D3 competition, and still has a few chances to boost its postseason resume in the coming weeks.

With players like Zach Cotoni, Jack O'Neil and Nick Irby all hitting their stride offensively, and star goalie P.J. Kendall between the pipes, the Crusaders are a team nobody wants to see in the tournament.

Dropped Out- Tyngsboro (No. 4 last week)

In the Hunt: Westboro (8-3), Tantasqua (9-2), Tyngsboro (11-1), Worcester (8-4), Assabett (9-0)

The Rangers scored two impressive league wins last week against Wachusett and Nashoba, and made short work of Shepherd Hill, but things get much tougher this week against Shrewsbury, Groton-Dunstable and Grafton. Tantasqua, meanwhile, continues to roll. The Warriors have won seven in a row, with impressive wins against Agawam ad Grafton sprinkled in there. Tantasqua's last loss was a 9-8 thriller against Westboro nearly a month ago.

This week will bring another opportunity for a signature win as the Warriors travel to face Worcester.

Tyngsboro suffered its first loss of the season Saturday at Groton-Dunstable, but the Tigers were dealing with an injury to star sophomore middie Kyle Laforge, and playing a team on a mission. Tuesday's trip to Leominster is trickier than many think, but expect the Tigers to get back on track this week as they gear up for the D3 Central/East tournament, and a rematch with the Crusaders in two weeks.

Worcester remains a solid team, and will battle Tantasqua for a Top-2 spot in Mid-Mass. and tournament positioning in D2 Central/West this week. These Warriors have beaten everybody they should, but haven't really notched a signature win quite yet this season. Tuesday they'll have the chance to change that.

Finally, you can only overlook an undefeated team for so long, ya know? Assabet has clearly established itself as the best Voke School team in the region, and it really hasn't even been close. The Aztecs have dominated every team they've faced, and their only tough matchups left look to be against Essex Tech and Tri County, two teams Assbett defeated by 10 and nine goals, respectively, the first time they played them this season.

We'll see how Assabet does in D3 Central/West come tournament time, but as a Voke team, they're clearly the best in Central Mass, and probably more.


Anonymous said...

Kyle laforge*

Joe Parello said...

Oops, don't know why I had Jack there. Just fixed it, thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

all good teams .. good fair lists… well done… go onto lax click
central mass.. then on the top click "strength of schedule" this tells a significant story.. especially when you dig into the amount of upperclassmen on some teams .. and the amount of underclassmen on others… . The next couple of years are going to be really interesting in central mass. really good lacrosse happening in central mass.. love it

Anonymous said...

Sure would be nice to have seen a Grafton -GD game, or a Tyngsboro-Grafton, or Tyngs-Worcester or GD- Worcester, or Tantas- GD or Tyngs.

A I think, in the end, those are the teams vying for the #5 spot, as 1-4 Are Gonk, SJ, Shrews, Westboro, in any order on any given day.

Also, those Mid Wach A teams that play such a grueling schedule, that sometimes do not make the tourney, would almost certainly make the tourney in in any other Mid Wach Division or other CMass Conference.

ps..It is good to see continuing strength from some of the traditional powers, as that helps the region as a whole, but it is great to see surges from other teams like Tantas, and Worc.

In the has been a great season with some really good lax ahead. Best of luck to all the CMass young men out there between the lines daily.

Anonymous said...

agreed .. don't look to far past some of those mid wach B teams either …leominster plays a tough sched .. same with littleton .tyngsboro is solid,,, shep hill is playing its first year in new league and also play many mid wachA teams as well ,, word is they start 5 freshman ? if thats true .. the future is bright ..marlboro is dusting everyone in mid wach c .. they should be in B , and should play more A and B . their strength of schedule is very low . . but are a very good team .they need to be challenged before tourney time .. but it is what it is .