Monday, March 28, 2016

CMass Lax Preview: The 2016 Nashoba Chieftains

Nashoba goalie Robby Atwood
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Many teams around Central Mass are returning boat loads of experience and gearing up for a year of senior leadership.

Nashoba is not one of those teams.

After losing a dozen seniors, including stars Eric Demmer and Casey Elkins, the Chieftains return senior goalie Robby Atwood and… That's about all they know for now.

"Robby and I spoke before practice started," Nashoba coach Kevin McNamara said. "And he asked me, 'coach who's going to be starting on attack.' I told him that, other than goalie and who's taking our face-offs, nothing's set yet."

That might seem like a bleak picture, but for a program looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, some fresh blood might not be a bad thing.

"I think some of the younger kids have to step up, and they have been doing that so far, so it's a good sign," Atwood said.

"Obviously we're not expecting it to be like last year," senior Adam Chioda said. "But I feel pretty confident that the young guys coming up are going to do a good job."

Last year's senior-laden squad certainly didn't lack confidence, but those Chieftains never quite reached their potential. An 8-10 record kept them a game out of the postseason, despite a convincing 13-9 win over eventual Mid-Wach A champion Algonquin, Nashoba lost seven games of a late-season eight-game stretch to be eliminated from the playoffs.

This year's Chieftains won't have much experience to fall back on, but they do feature a host of hungry youngsters, and one of the region's best goalies and leaders to build around. Here's what to expect.


Youth should be served for Nashoba up front, as freshman Rory Boots is seeing extensive action throughout the early part of camp. But Boots isn't the only underclassman that will be asked to play beyond his years, as the coaching staff and players are expecting big things from sophomore Bryce Chaput as well.

There's a good deal of young talent on attack for the Chieftains, but the question will be how quickly these guys can be brought along, and how they'll deal with the growing pains of playing varsity lacrosse in Central MA's toughest league.


It may be senior Mike Czekanski's time to shine. After finishing third on the team with 38 points (28G, 10A), the senior middie will likely carry a larger offensive load this season.

"We're just trying to get that chemistry, and see how people fit together," Czekanski said "We've got a lot of guys in different spots, so we're just trying to get the offense going and keep working as a team."

Face-off ace Lucas Cordio, a sophomore just beginning to tap his potential, could be one to watch here as well. Cordio looked solid throughout a long day of scrimmages Saturday, and his presence at the face-off X is one of very few known variables for Nashoba this year.


Like both other spots, not much is known, but senior Adam Chioda seems to be making a smooth transition from LSM to pole, and may serve as the team's top defensive option this spring.

Other than that… Your guess is as good as mine, but several underclassmen will get a long look at those other two spots.


The one known variable of this team is Ithaca commit Robby Atwood, who also starred as the quarterback of Nashoba's state championship football team. Not only is Atwood one of the region's most talented and experienced goalies, he's also the kind of leader that you would want to tie this young group together.

Joe's Forecast

Last year's Nashoba team was hard to get a feel for. One day they control the game against, arguably, the best team in Central Mass (Algonquin), and another day they're getting throttled by nine goals against a good, but not elite team (Wachusett).

That inconsistency was odd, considering the Chieftains' experience, so maybe this year will be the antithesis to that. Could this young squad gel together and be a factor in the Mid-Wach, just on hunger and will alone?

I wouldn't put it past them, and given how tough they played against Tyngsboro and Tantasqua Saturday, it appears they have the talent to do so as well. But it would be dishonest and naive to say I know what this team is capable of at this point, when, quite frankly, they don't even know what they're capable of.

Expect a tough and physical battle when you play Nashoba this year, but beyond that, there are too many unknowns to paint a complete picture for this team.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

They are playing Grafton tomorrow afternoon @grafton at 3:30