Monday, June 15, 2015

Grafton to Play in D3 State Semifinals

Goalie Cadrin Msumba and the Grafton poles are coming off one of the best defensive performances in the state.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Grafton is the last team standing for Central Mass lacrosse this postseason, and the Indians are just one win away from playing for a state championship.

Let's take a look back at how Grafton got here, and a look ahead at what awaits them tonight in the state semis.

Grafton vs Ipswich, Division 3 State Semifinal

Monday, 4:30 pm at Burlington High School

Grafton is coming off a complete team win over Mt. Greylock, the team that bested them in last year's Division 3 Central/West final. The Indians were waiting all year for a shot at redemption, and they certainly played like it, holding a team that has scored in the 20s seven times, and over 15 goals 16 times, to just eight goals.

It's been an incredible run for the Grafton defense, which has seen goalie Cadrin Msumba string together three straight virtuoso performances, while poles Youki Azuma, Dan Bartosiewicz, and Tom Nicalek have all played at an All Star level.

After dominating Northbridge and Lee, surrendering just four goals in those two games, the Grafton defense faced its biggest test of the year and passed with flying colors. Though record-setting attackman Michael McCormack got his numbers (5G, 1A), the Indians were able to keep him from taking over the game, and limited opportunities for his teammates.

Meanwhile, the Grafton attack and midfield have been absolutely humming. Attackman Cole Fontana exploded for five goals against the Mounties, while Chase Kapuscienski continues to impress up front next to Hunter Fraser. FO/M Matt O'Brien has continued to excel at the X, while Evan Johnston and Anthony D'Angelo do a little bit of everything.

In all, the Grafton offense has scored 47 goals in three playoff games, setting a blistering pace that it will need to maintain against Ipswich.

The Tigers come in as one of the most balanced teams in the state, ranking among Massachusetts' best in goals scored (12 per game) and goals allowed (6.5). Only a loss to Division 1 Peabody separates Ipswich from a perfect season, and the Tigers rolled through the Cape Ann league and Division 3 North while rarely being challenged.

The first order of business for Grafton will be obtaining possession from one of the state's top up-and-coming face-off specialists, Ipswich sophomore Charlie Gillis. If they do manage to wrangle possession, the Indians will then have the unenviable task of trying to score on star goalie Jeff Statile. The senior earned Cape Ann Baker Division Player of the Year honors this season, and senior poles Robbie Glavin and Eddie Flaherty, along with emerging sophomore LSM Tyler Starr, make it difficult to even get a good look at Statile between the pipes.

The Tigers also have an explosive and balanced offense that receives contributions from the attack and midfield. Senior Elliot Bates leads things up front, and classmate Vinny Martineau ties things together in the midfield. In addition to excelling at the faceoff-X, Gillis is also a capable scorer and distributor.

Basically, the Tigers are stacked, but so are the Indians, and you could make the case that Grafton is actually more battle tested. It should be a good one either way, with the victor earning a spot at Harvard Stadium for the D3 state championship game Friday.


Anonymous said...

McCormack scored 4 of his 5 in the 4th quarter when the game was well out of reach. He is a good player though

Anonymous said...

Good work Grafton. Keep fighting til the end.

Anonymous said...

grafton wins!!!! Grafton Wins!!!!!!!