Wednesday, March 30, 2016

CMass Lax Scrimmage Report: Northbridge Hosts Groton-Dunstable

Groton-Dunstable running the break against Northbridge Wednesday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Groton-Dunstable made the long trip south to Northbridge for a scrimmage Wednesday, and came away with a 5-4 victory over the Rams.

Northbridge actually started the day's scoring, however, as Chandler Brooks drove in for a quick goal just moments into the scrimmage. The Crusaders answered with a 3-0 run, before Brendan Morganelli answered for Northbridge.

G-D scored at the buzzer of the first half, and took a 4-2 lead into the brief intermission.

If it sounds like I don't know who scored the Groton-Dunstable goals, it's because I don't. The Crusaders were (mostly) not wearing numbers yet, and G-D doesn't have a roster at the moment.

What I will say, however, is that G-D's rebuilt midfield and experienced attack looked solid, possessing the ball well and getting to their spots offensively. The next step, coach Rick Arena says, will be finishing once they get there.

Northbridge, for their part, never quit fighting, and senior attack Logan Ciliberto battled through some fatigue to score a late goal to trim the Crusader lead.

Here's a little more about both teams heading into the regular season.

Northbridge Going Forward

The Rams qualified for the Division 3 Central/West tournament last year, and bring back some key offensive pieces this season. The offense will run through senior middie Chandler Brooks, the team's most gifted scorer and passer. Junior attackman Brendan Morganelli should again be a lethal scorer, and may have to shoulder more of the load as classmate Matt Deluca recovers from a football injury. The Rams expect him back in a few weeks.

Alex Dowd, a strong two-way middie should help tie things together with Brooks in the midfield, but the Rams must find answers defensively, where Pat Ducey and a ton of other experience is gone to graduation.

Senior Joe Briggs is the only pole with much experience, and Northbridge will need him at his best if it hopes to have another solid defense. At goalie, junior Kevin Smith will try to fill the shoes of his big brother Kyle, who unfortunately may be missing the year with an illness.

Coach Steve Falconer felt much better about his team's defensive performance Wednesday than he did earlier in the week when they faced Wachusett. It's going to take some time, but the Rams have talent on the back end. How much time? The answer to that question could determine whether or not the explosive Rams get back to the postseason.

Groton-Dunstable Going Forward

The Crusaders looked crisp and in control early against Northbridge, but this year's team will have to work hard to replace departed star middie Zack Cotoni and stud goalie P.J. Kendall.

Luckily, speedy attackman Nick Irby is back for his senior season, and may be ready to break out as one of the best scorers in Central Mass. Irby played well down the stretch last year, and is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Returning alongside Irby is classmate Ryan Dodge, a Mid-Wach All-Star a season ago who will look to build on that in his final campaign. Those two should give the Crusaders plenty of punch, and middie Owen Torgenson does a little bit of everything for G-D.

Defensively, look for senior pole Shane Dawson to anchor a group that could be even better than last year's squad.

On the whole, the Crusaders again look like a team that can be competitive in brutal Mid-Wach A, and make some noise in the D3 tournament. This group is sure to be battle tested, as Algonquin, Shrewsbury and Westboro are always solid, and whispers around the region are saying Wachusett is much improved from last year's disappointing campaign.

Don't expect the Crusaders to back down from any of those groups, however, as they again should be in the thick of the Mid-Wach.


Anonymous said...

Joe where's the tyngsboro preview?

Anonymous said...

Amazing how you are getting to all these places Joe. You a true friend of CMass lacrosse. Thank you for your efforts up until now and going forward. Hats off to us. Have a great spring!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Auto correct.

*you are

*hats off to you

Joe Parello said...

Haha, thanks for the kind words. Tyngsboro is coming either tomorrow of Friday, and I should have a few other brief team previews over the weekend, followed by our first Power Rankings on Monday.