Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CMass Lax All-Stars and Award Winners 2015

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Another season of lacrosse is in the books here in Central Mass, so now it's time to unveil our All-Stars and Award Winners. This was probably the toughest year to narrow our Watch List down to a single team of standouts, as so many teams and players enjoyed great seasons across the region.

Still, decisions have to be made. So, after consulting with local coaches, players and experts, here is my list of the players that stood above the rest in 2015. Congratulations to all the players, coaches and parents that made it another great year for the game in the region!

Note: All Americans are indicated with an (AA) at the end of their listing.


First Team

Joe Buduo, Shrewsbury (AA)
Jared Ward, St. John's (AA)
James Bowler, Worcester

Second Team

Chase Kapuscienski, Grafton
Curtiss Vachon, St. Bernard's
Billy Doherty, Marlboro

Third Team

Eric Demmer, Nashoba
Parker Jean, St. John's
Griffin Shoemaker, Littleton

Honorable Mention

Mike Frio, Tantasqua
Russ Gillis, Tyngsboro
Jack Pierce, Westboro

Buduo broke out last year for the Colonials, and grew into arguably the region's top attackman this season, crossing 200 career points and leading an improved Shrewsbury offense. Ward was again a goal-machine for one of the region's best teams, and this year had to do it drawing the best defender from each opponent. Bowler may be the most underrated attackman in the region, but what he's done the past two years for Worcester is nothing short of astounding. He's helped make that program a contender.

If he were healthy, it would be hard to see Kapuscienski not on the first team (or earning All American honors, for that matter), but the junior attackman from Grafton still had a great season, even while playing on a broken foot. Vachon led the region in goals scored by a mile, and has powered the St. Bernard's offense the last two years. Doherty was another player that powered his team's offense, finishing 115 points (55G, 60A), good for third-best in Central Mass.

Demmer put up some tremendous numbers himself, and did so while battling a brutal schedule in Mid-Wach A. Jean was another piece of the great St. John's offense, while Griffin Shoemaker emerged as a scoring dynamo for Littleton.

Finally, we end with three players that get little hype, but whose scoring abilities gave their teams some much needed balance. Frio was a part of a balanced up-and-coming attack at Tantasqua, while Gillis complemented his explosive midfield well up front and Pierce tied the Westboro offense together.


First Team

Mike Martens, Algonquin (FO) (AA)
Kyle Laforge, Tyngsboro (FO) (AA)
Jake Foster, Westboro (AA)

Second Team

Austin Coene, Tyngsboro
Casey Elkins, Nashoba
Zach Cotoni, Groton-Dunstable

Third Team

Andrew Tichy, Tantasqua (Academic AA)
Andrew Cox, St. John's
Paul Luongo, Algonquin

Honorable Mention

Cam Moran, Leominster
Cody Dickinson, Wachusett
Devin Pietz, Shepherd Hill

Hard to argue with the three All Americans taking first team, and each of these guys did it all for their respective squads. Martens and Laforge not only handled faceoff duties, but initiated much of the offense as well, while Foster drew the attention of each opponent's top pole, and created as a scorer and distributor.

Coene joined his teammate Laforge in the 100 point club (only four CMass players got there this year), and provided a powerful shot and some great savvy to the Tigers' offense. Elkins was one of the most complete midfielders in the region, doing it all for Nashoba, including creating offense, but also wrangling ground balls and defending. The same could be said about Cotoni, a great all-around player for Groton-Dunstable who seemed to get better as the year went on.

Tichy provided senior leadership, a scoring punch and toughness to Tantasqua during their breakout season, while Cox was a true two-way mid with scoring ability for St. John's. Luongo came on offensively down the stretch for the T-Hawks, and Cam Moran not only scored, but played with grit for a Leominster team that earned its second consecutive playoff bid. Dickinson was Wachusett's top all-around player and Pietz gave young Shepherd Hill a veteran presence and much needed scoring punch.


First Team

Brendan Doherty, St. John's

Second Team

Chris Campbell, Shrewsbury

Third Team

Jack McGrail, Worcester

Honorable Mention

Mike Tascione, Algonquin

Each of these guys did the dirty work for their respective teams. Doherty collected an absurd 95 ground balls this year and forced around four turnovers a game. When it came to gaining possession and adding some defense, Doherty was a spark for the Pioneers, who ended the season playing some great lacrosse.

Campbell, meanwhile, was another cog in Shrewsbury's vaunted defense. Only a freshman, Campbell was often tasked with covering the best midfielder, or even top attackmen from opposing teams. The newcomer passed each test with flying colors, and will be one to watch for the Colonials in the coming years.

McGrail has been an unsung hero for Worcester these past two years, but his abilities on ground balls, and intensity on defense have helped the Warriors become a force to be reckoned with.

Finally, Tascione is one of the better defenders in the region, and could make the move to close defense next year for the T-Hawks.


First Team

John DeFlumeri, St. John's
Stu Bleck, Algonquin
Tim Hally, Shrewsbury

Second Team

Dan Bartosiewicz, Grafton
C.J. Gallagher, Worcester
Connor Skinner, Leominster

Third Team

Paul Nardone, Algonquin (Academic AA)
Youki Azuma, Grafton
Patrick Ducey, Northbridge (Academic AA)

Honorable Mention

Dave Walker, Tyngsboro
Tom Nicalek, Grafton
Sean Travers, Shrewsbury

DeFlumeri has been a vital piece for a pair of outstanding St. John's defenses, while Bleck and Hally led the two top units in Central Mass this season. All three of them were continually asked to face the top attack from each of their opponents, and time again each of them turned in a smothering performance.

Bartosiewicz, Azuma and Nicalek were all outstanding for Grafton down the stretch, helping the Indians weather the storm of missing fellow pole Connor Evans for most of the year, while Gallagher and Ducey joined them among the best poles in Mid-Mass. Skinner gave Leominster a shut-down pole, while Nardone and Travers were big reasons why their defenses as a whole ranked among the state's best.


First Team

Colton King, Algonquin
Cadrin Msumba, Grafton

Second Team

J.T. Rothera, Shrewsbury
Jeff Bernard, Westboro

Third Team

Sean Moran, Worcester
Jared Messick, Tantasqua

Honorable Mention

Hunter Gaither, St. John's
P.J. Kendall, Groton-Dunstable

King established himself as one of the best goalies in the state, and as a guy Algonquin could rely on to stop a run at any given time, while Msumba may have had one of the hottest runs the region has seen in quite some time (more on that below).

Rothera had the unenviable task of replacing All American and Shrewsbury playoff hero Chris Gorman, but he enjoyed a fantastic year, ranking second in the Mid-Wach in goals allowed, behind only Bernard, who was a stabilizing force for the Rangers.

Moran and Messick each had fine years and helped their up-and-coming programs excel in Mid-Mass., while Gaither also replaced a solid goalie and established himself as a force. P.J. Kendall has been doing it for a while now (a three-year starter for the Crusaders), but this may have been his finest season, helping G-D pull of some great regular season wins, and again win a playoff game.

Defensive Player of the Year: Cadrin Msumba, Jr. G, Grafton

There are goalies with better numbers, and but what Msumba and the Grafton defense were able to do collectively down the stretch was special. Slowing down the state's all-time leader scorer in Mt. Greylock's Michael McCormack in the Division 3 Central/West final, then following that up with a single-digit performance against explosive Ipswich was as good a two-game defensive stretch as you'll see in the state.

But Msumba's year was about more than a great playoff run. With top pole Connor Evans out for an extended period, Msumba brought his defense together and kept the Indians afloat amid a rash of injuries. Last year it was Shrewsbury's Chris Gorman who always seemed to make the big save in the big game, and this year it was definitely Msumba.

Breakout Player of the Year: Kyle Laforge, So. M, Tyngsboro

Only a sophomore, Laforge burst onto the scene, leading the Mid-Wach in points and providing the Tigers with a reliable presence at the faceoff-X. Laforge was one of just two players in the entire region to go 50-50 (50 goals and 50 assists), the other being Marlboro's Billy Doherty, and his toughness gave Tyngsboro an edge on offense that few in Central Mass could match.

Already an All American, Laforge will return next year to lead a Tyngsboro team that will suddenly have much higher expectations after sweeping Mid-Wach B and making a nice run in the Division 3 tournament.

Player of the Year: Mike Martens, Jr. M, Algonquin

Perhaps the most complete player in the region, Martens absolutely did it all for the Tomahawks, dominating at the faceoff-X where he earned the reputation as CMass' best on the draw, and asserting himself offensively, becoming Algonquin's best offensive weapon as both a scorer and passer.

Oh yeah, and he also played defense with the best of them.

A true two-way mid with the ability to dominate possession at both the X and on ground balls, Martens' value goes well beyond goals and assists. His all-around play helped Algonquin capture an outright title in Central Mass' toughest league, the brutal Mid-Wach A, and make a run to the Division 2 Central/West finals.

Whenever Algonquin needed to create something, the ball seemed to be on his stick, and whenever they needed to stop a run, they knew they could count on him to get possession back. Now the question is, can he take the T-Hawks to the next level next year?

Coach of the Year: Alan Rotatori, Grafton

Many Central Mass coaches had outstanding seasons. John Pedace took Tantasqua to the next level, helping the Warriors earn of a share of the Mid-Mass. title, while Kyle Brady shot Tyngsboro through the roof with his handling of a talented and versatile midfield.

Nate Skermont (Shrewsbury), Rich Luongo (Algonquin) and Terry Leary (St. John's)  again had their respective power programs right where they wanted to be, while Harry Jones (Worcester) and Colin Davis (Leominster) scored back-to-back playoff appearances for non-traditional lacrosse schools.

But no coach had a better year than Rotatori, whose team broke through after coming oh-so-close the last three seasons. After three consecutive heartbreaks in the district finals, two of those coming in Division 2 before realignment, Grafton captured the school's first ever district crown against a Mt. Greylock team that had defeated them the year before.

They followed that performance up with a double OT win against Ipswich and state finals appearance. Rotatori seemed to push all the right buttons, as sophomores emerged on the back end, and more midfielders stepped up to contribute, seemingly by the day. But perhaps his best decisions were who not to play.

When the Indians were dealing with a rash of injuries, many of Rotatori's players that were hurt asked to be inserted back into the lineup, just to give Grafton a shot at winning down the stretch. Rotatori wisely held them out, sacrificing some wins at midseason to make sure his team was as healthy as it could be for the playoff run.

It paid off, and now the program he's built into a perennial contender is a district champion for the first time.

All-Star Selections by School

Algonquin: 6
St. John's: 6
Grafton: 5
Shrewsbury: 5
Tyngsboro: 4
Worcester: 4
Tantasqua: 3
Westboro: 3
Groton-Dunstable: 2
Nashoba: 2
Leominster: 2
Littleton: 1
Marlboro: 1
Northbridge: 1
Shepherd Hill: 1
St. Bernard's: 1
Wachusett: 1


Anonymous said...

Matt Obrien?? Anthony D'Angelo??

Anonymous said...

Very well done has to be tough to sort things out, but correct me if I'm wrong I believe Jake Foster played attack this year for Westboro not middie.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the difference between this all star list and the all star list that came out before the all star games? This list of kids is different. Also, how is it that an AA can also be the breakout player of the year? Just trying to understand the criteria for some of these awards.

Joe Parello said...

O'Brien and D'Angelo were the last two cuts, and man was sorting the midfield out difficult. Foster played both middie and attack this year, so I listed him at the position he had played most of his career, and this is our site's All-Star team, different from the CMass All-Star Games which were played last week. Each team selected a few of their seniors and underclassmen to play in those games. As for an AA being Breakout Player of the Year, that was because the kid was only a sophomore that blew up and led Tyngsboro to a great year, earning himself AA status along the way.
Again, there were a TON of tough cuts this year. You could have made a case for a few more kids from Grafton, Algonquin, Shrewsbury, St. John's, and even places like Tantasqua, Westboro and Groton-Dunstable. It was a solid year all around for CMass.

Anonymous said...

Zack O'Brien Tantasqua 1st Team Mid Mass defense and not even an HM nod???

Anonymous said...

Who recieved the offensive player Of the year honors?

Cadrin Msumba said...

First I'd like to thank you for all the work you put into covering Central Mass lacrosse and all the awards you gave to our program through your SuiteSports blog. I'm going to argue that Chase should be first team seeing as though we beat Worcester twice and every big game that he stepped up in.
Next I'm surprised that no Grafton midfielders are in listed for their work throughout the season and how they lead our scoring throughout the playoffs.
Lastly, I'm surprised that Nashoba goalie Robbie Atwood is not on the list. He lead an underrated Mid Wach A who helped lead a victory over Algonquin. It was great year and I'm very excited for the next. Again, thank you for your work because without we are not able to have these debates about where to rank the best players.

Aleke Msumba said...

Hats off to Coach Rotatori for his great season - Truly Coach of the Year for Central Mass!

Joe Parello said...

Ok, here go a bunch of responses. Hang on folks...
Hey Cadrin,
First of all, thanks a bunch, and congrats on a great run this year. It was a lot of fun covering you guys. I hear you on all of those thoughts. Like I said earlier, O'Brien and D'Angelo were my two last cuts, and it was borderline painful not including one of them, especially after Anthony's great offensive postseason, and with all that Matt does that doesn't show up in the box score. As for Robby Atwood: I know how good Robby is, and he made the team last year. Unfortunately, there were just a ton of goalies with better numbers and more team success this year. Is that totally fair? Of course not, but I have no doubt he'll be back next year.
Other quick issues: I don't do an Offensive Player of the Year, since that is usually covered by either Breakout Player or Player of the Year. Laforge would be hard to argue with for that award, but you could certainly make a case for Buduo and Ward, or Vachon and Doherty, who put up video game numbers.
Finally, poles were the toughest position to judge because I only got to watch and tape so many teams, so I deferred to the judgment of coaches for players I hadn't seen. I didn't get to watch any Tantasqua games this year, so you may have a fair gripe about Zack, but the competition was very fierce this year and, again, the line had to be drawn somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Cadrin Msumba. Defensive player of the year? Good player, but the kid from Tantasqua and Colton King are better

Anonymous said...

Defiantly a difficult year with a lot of great players. Truthfully thing Algonquin Middie Alex Sabel should have been somehwere in there. Was a constant offensive threat and a pain for teams d-middies

Anonymous said...

Zack O' Brien didn't deserve first team for mid mass.

Cadrin Msumba said...

Jared Mesick is a great goalie for Tantasqua and truly underrated. But his SOS (strength of schedule) hurts his ability to contend for this award and I was not playing when he beat us as I was away at Deca. Also, if you look at numbers, yes he does have better numbers than me but I get pulled early in most league games if we are up, thus, inflating my GAA and lowering my number of saves.
I do agree that Colton King is a better goalie but we won head to head against Algonquin and went further in our Division 3 bracket. Whether you believe ours was easy or not you have to respect it as we are significantly smaller than almost every school we play (and especially compared to Tantasqua and Algonquin).
Lastly, I believe this "Defensie Player of the Year" does not necessarily single me out. I believe it highlights our defensive unit. We have a small number of poles with Evans almost the whole year with only 3 close defensemen and 2 LSM's, 2 of which were phenomenal sophomores in Tom Nicalek and Danny Barto. We had a great run in the playoffs and this award is not only just for me but for the hard work the defense did for us to win our first District Title and first State Title Appearance.

Anonymous said...

What about Algonquin's Alex Sabel and Zach Skrowneck?

Anonymous said...

joe can't put everyone on this list that scored over 30 points too many kids … guys .. the list can't just be all grafton and algonquin either. don't you have team banquets and awards ? chill out . Joe.. you do a good job . one that no one else does .. doing your best to put central mass …. all of central mass ! on the map... have a good summer everyone! keep playing hard!

Anonymous said...

is Laforge committed?

The Hodgens said...

Look no further: what coach in the running for Coach of the Year built a lax program from scratch? STARTED a high school program with kids--most of whom had never picked up a stick? Coach Eric Moxim is changing lives in Hopedale. There is no coach more passionate about the sport of lacrosse and no coach more dedicated to the survival of the game. His passion motivates both the girls and the boys and keeps them going without any feeder program of any kind. His vibrant personality attracted kids dedicated to other sports and recruited them to take the chance on a new sport. Now his team has gone from barely winning a game to being on the cusp of qualifying for tournament. Absolutely in it for he love of the game! We cannot think of a soul more deserving--just wish he could coach boys and girls!