Monday, June 22, 2015

CMass Lax Power Rankings: The End of 2015

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was another exciting year for high school lacrosse in the Heart of the Commonwealth, and for the first time in a few years, there really wasn't a consensus top team.

Algonquin won an outright Mid-Wach A crown, claiming the top league in Central Mass, and advanced the farthest in the Division 2 tournament among CMass teams. Still, St. John's and Grafton both beat the T-Hawks, with the latter making a run to the state finals in Division 3.

You could make a legitimate case for all three of those teams to be No. 1, so let's not waste any more time. Here is my end of 2015 Top-10, with a breakdown of my thinking at the bottom.

1. St. John's: 15-6, 1-0 Catholic Conf.

Season Highlights: Division 2 Central/West semifinalist, playoff win over Shrewsbury. Wins over Algonquin, Worcester, Groton-Dunstable, Westboro, Minnechaug and Grafton. Attackman Jared Ward named All American.

2. Grafton: 15-3, 9-1 Mid-Mass.

Season Highlights: Division 3 state finalist, Division 3 Central/West champion, Mid-Mass. co-champion, wins over Algonquin, Ipswich, Mt. Greylock and Tantasqua.

3. Algonquin: 16-6, 9-1 Mid-Wach A

Season Highlights: Mid-Wach A champion, Division 2 Central/West finalist, two wins over Shrewsbury. Wins over Westfield (playoffs), Hingham, Minnechaug, Westboro and Tantasqua (playoffs). Middie Mike Martens named All American.

4. Shrewsbury: 16-6, 7-3 Mid-Wach A

Season Highlights: Division 2 Central/West quarterfinalist, wins over Marlboro, Groton-Dunstable (2x), Minnechaug, St. John's, Grafton, Westboro and Sharon. Atackman Joe Buduo named All American.

5. Tyngsboro: 18-2, 10-0 Mid-Wach B

Season Highlights: Mid-Wach B champion, Division 2 Central/East semifinalist, wins over Bedford (playoffs), Groton-Dunstable and Marlboro. Middie Kyle Laforge named All American.

6. Tantasqua: 15-3, 9-1 Mid-Mass.

Season Highlights: Mid-Mass. co-champion, 13-game winning streak, Division 2 Central/West quarterfinalist, two wins over Worcester and a win against Grafton.

7. Westboro: 11-6, 6-4 Mid-Wach A

Season Highlights:
Wins over Grafton, Shrewsbury, Tantasqua and Groton-Dunstale, Division 2 playoff appearance. Middie Jake Foster named All American.

8. Groton-Dunstable: 11-9, 4-6 Mid-Wach A

Season Highlights: Division 3 Central/East quarterfinalist, wins over Tyngsboro and Westboro

9. Worcester: 13-7, 6-4 Mid-Mass.

Season Highlights: Division 2 Central/West quarterfinalist, two wins over Marlboro (one in playoffs)

10. Marlboro: 15-4, 8-0 Mid-Wach C

Season Highlights:
Mid-Wach C champions, Division 2 playoff appearance.

The Breakdown

As I said on Carl Setterlund's podcast the other day, when making a Top-10 list, you really have to define what you are ranking. If you're listing the Top-10 teams by who you wouldn't want to play/who you think would win head-to-head, you would probably list St. John's number one. After all, the Pioneers closed the year on a tear, defeating Algonquin head-to-head and giving Division 2 runner-up Longmeadow their toughest test West of 495.

The Pioneers also scored the two most impressive wins in the region (in my opinion), a 10-0 decision over Grafton and 16-3 playoff victory over rival Shrewsbury, avenging a regular season defeat against the Colonials from earlier in the year.

If you were going with the "most deserving" team, I think Grafton would take the cake. The Indians were the only CMass team to capture a district championship, and advanced to the program's first ever state championship. Grafton also battled injuries, and was a totally different team when healthy, evidenced by their incredible playoff run, and early win over Algonquin.

At the end of the day, I went with a combination of "who would win head-to-head" and "most deserving," picking St. John's, the team that closed the year playing at an absurdly high level, and with the most quality wins in the region, including blowout wins over Grafton and Shrewsbury, and a victory over their closest competition in Division 2, Algonquin.

I'll admit, it feels kind of weird ranking the T-Hawks as low as third. This Algonquin team was among the best in school history, won an outright title in Central Mass' toughest and deepest league, and made a run to the district finals.

Still, the head-to-head losses against Grafton and St. John's kind of force my hand here, but the good news for Gonk is they will almost surely make another deep run next year. With All American middie Mike Martens returning for his senior season, along with classmate star goalie Colton King and rising-junior attackman Zach Skowronek, the Tomahawks will again be favorites to win their league and contend for a district crown.

Rounding out the Top-5 we have Shrewsbury and Tyngsboro. The Colonials nearly beat Algonquin twice, and did score huge wins over St. John's (during the regular season) and Sharon. Shrewsbury was again a threat to beat anybody, while Tyngsboro went undefeated in Mid-Wach B and made a deep tournament run. The Tigers took a huge step forward this year, and with All American midfielder Kyle Laforge returning for his junior season, don't expect them to fall off any time soon.

Tantasqua was another team that took a major step forward, sharing the Mid-Mass. title with Grafton after splitting the season series with the Indians. The Warriors strung together 13-consecutive wins and won a playoff game in Division 2, no small feat.

Westboro and Groton-Dunstable split their season series against each other, and represented the strong middle of Mid-Wach A, plus scored quality out-of-league wins over the likes of Grafton and Tyngsboro. Westboro's combo of Jake Foster and Jack Pierce, and Groton-Dunstable's Zach Cotoni all ranked among the best players in the region.

Finally, we end with Worcester and Marlboro, two teams that played a pair of exciting games against each other, one in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs. Worcester came out on top in both of those games, giving them the edge in our rankings over the Mid-Wach C champions. Each featured one of the state's most lethal scorers, in Worcester's James Bowler and Marlboro's Billy Doherty.


Anonymous said...

When's your award winners come out

Joe Parello said...

All-Stars and Award Winners should be out tomorrow. Making some tough last-minute decisions right now.

Anonymous said...

Big dif between GD and Tyngs, when they split and GD is +2 in the two games. Not saying GD is "better" but 3 whole spots. Of course MHO... Also, we appreciate Graftons run, and they did hit Gonk early on, but that hit is quite similar to the hit Graf took from SJS ...and then Gonk goes pretty deep, winning MWA and beating the EMass power hingham. So that is a tough 2/3 as you say.

Overall, well done and love your coverage....thank you

Look forward to your analysis next year!!!!