Monday, April 25, 2016

Central Mass Lax Power Rankings: Week 4

State power Cohasset found out that Grafton's defense is no joke last week
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was a dramatic week of lacrosse around Central Mass, with established powers clashing, and top teams testing their mettle against some of the best that Eastern and Western Mass have to offer.

With so many big games, there was bound to be some shakeup. So, without further ado, here are this week's Top-10 teams in Central Mass lacrosse.

1. Grafton: 6-1, 3-0 Mid-Mass. D3 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 1. Defeated Shrewsbury 14-4 and Hamilton-Wenham 9-6. Lost to Cohasset 10-9 (OT).

The Indians were an overtime goal away from a perfect week, as they dispatched of a good (though its record doesn't show it) Shrewsbury team, and a solid D3 squad in Hamilton-Wenham. Put Grafton's OT loss to Cohasset in the "quality loss" category, and give the Indians credit for rallying to finish third in the Weston tournament on Saturday.

Nobody likes to lose, but I've been hearing from people around the state just how impressed they were with Grafton's final three quarters against Cohasset. There is, of course, the potential for the Indians to meet the Skippers again in the state semifinals, and I sure wouldn't mind seeing that rematch.

For now, Grafton will have to settle for getting back into Mid-Mass play Tuesday against Hopedale and Thursday against Northbridge, before a massive showdown with Westboro on Saturday.

2. Algonquin: 5-1, 3-0 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 2. Defeated Acton-Boxborough 8-7 (OT), and Hopkinton 12-8. Lost to Minnechaug 14-5.

Algonquin couldn't have opened the week much better than its OT win over D1 Eastern Mass power Acton-Boxborough, but closed Spring Break with a thud against underrated Minnechaug. In between, the T-Hawks picked up a quality win against a solid Hopkinton team.

Basically, this team is capable of playing with anybody when it's on its game, and capable of losing to teams around the same talent level when it doesn't show up. That being said, everyone has off days, and Chaug is far better than anybody thought coming into the year.

Mike Martens and Zack Skowronek were bright spots in the loss, and Algonquin will look to get its mojo back in a suddenly pivotal league game against Wachusett Tueday. Then, the Tomahawks will have the chance to deliver a knockout blow against rival Shrewsbury Thursday, and go against another Western Mass team it may face in the playoffs Saturday at Westfield.

3. Westboro: 4-1, 3-1 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 4. Defeated No. 3 St. John's 9-3.

The Rangers only played one game last week, but boy did they make the most of it, dominating St. John's 9-3 on the Pioneers' home turf. Trevor McNamara may just be the best attackman in Central Mass with the way he's playing, and Jeff Bernard certainly needs to be in the conversation with all the other great goalies in the region.

Westboro will host Tantasqua today before traveling to Nashoba tomorrow, then the Rangers get a few days off before Saturday's big game at No. 1 Grafton.

4. St. John's: 5-2, 1-0 Catholic Conf. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 3. Defeated Shrewsbury 12-7, lost to No. 4 Westboro 9-3 and BC High 7-6.

The Pioneers suffered a pair of losses, and probably aren't too happy with their effort against Westboro. Still, taking state power BC High to the wire is nothing to sneeze at, and knocking off cross-town rival Shrewsbury is never easy.

St. John's seems to have found its offense, with attackmen Drew Kozub and Jack Donahue combining with middie Andrew Cox to form one of the best scoring trios in the region. Next up for the Pioneers are games against two usually solid programs who are enduring tough campaigns. St. John's Prep comes to town on Tuesday, followed by South Hadley on Thursday.

5. Wachusett: 6-2, 2-1 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 7. Defeated Nipmuc 11-9 and St. Peter-Marian 12-7.

The Mountaineers are right in the thick of the Mid-Wach A race, and they're win against Nipmuc, and close win over Groton-Dunstable back on the 14th, are both starting to look like quality victories. Wachusett has shown the ability to win shootouts and slugfests, and that versatility should serve it well down the stretch.

Tuesday's game at Algonquin is the biggest of the year yet for the Mountaineers, but don't sleep on Thursday's home game against Leominster, or Saturday's against Nashoba.

6. Littleton: 6-1, 3-0 Mid-Wach B. D3 Central/East

Last Week: Ranked No. 5. Defeated Nashoba 11-4. Lost to Groton-Dunstable 10-7.

The Tigers suffered their first defeat of the season last Tuesday against red-hot Groton-Dunstable, but bounced back nicely by convincingly defeating a talented Nashoba team. Griffin Shoemaker continues to be one of the best all-around offensive players in Central Mass, and the Tigers, once again, have a pretty underrated defense as well.

This week brings a pair of league games as North Middlesex comes to town Tuesday, and the Tigers travel for a big game against Oakmont Friday. In between, Littleton will host a scrappy Bromfield team. If the Tigers emerge from the week unscathed, it's hard to see them walking away with anything less than at least a share of the Mid-Wach B title this season.

7. Marlboro: 5-1, 2-0 Mid-Wach C. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 6. Defeated Nashoba 15-7.

Marlboro bounced back from its first loss of the season with a big win over Nashoba, and the Panthers now have a chance to string some victories together. Hudson comes to town Tuesday, followed by a trip to Lunenberg Saturday. Don't forget this is a young team, so every game is a chance to gain experience and build toward the postseason.

Still, if you're looking for drama, maybe wait until next week when the Panthers travel to face Groton-Dunstable.

8. Groton-Dunstable: 4-3, 0-3 Mid-Wach A. D3 Central/East

Last Week: Unranked. Defeated No. 5 Littleton 10-7, No. 8 Tyngsboro 16-7 and Tewksbury 12-3.

Speaking of G-D, did anybody have a better week than the Crusaders? Kyle Lacombe, Nick Irby and company knocked off a pair of ranked CMass teams before burying Tewksbury. Remember that G-D is a Division 3 team playing in a league that is otherwise full of Division 2 squads. So, divisional record isn't necessarily the most important things for the Crusaders.

What is important, is that G-D has a winning record against D3 competition when the year ends, and that's what makes the wins over Littleton and Tyngsboro so huge. Those are actually the only two D3 teams on the Crusaders' schedule, so I believe (and I'll check with the MIAA on this just to make sure) they have already qualified for the D3 playoffs, via the "Sullivan Rule."

(The rule basically says that, if you play in a league where most of the other teams are a division above, then you only need a winning record against teams you face from your own division)

But now they'll continue their quest for a winning record, and to enhance their tournament resume with a pair of challenges from talented teams with losing records. They'll host Shrewsbury in a game they hope will be their first league win on Tuesday, then welcome high-powered Shepherd Hill on Thursday.

9. Nipmuc: 4-3, 3-1 Mid-Mass. D3 Central/West

Last Week: Unranked. Defeated Blackstone Valley Tech 20-1 and No. 9 Worcester 10-4. Lost to No. 7 Wachusett 11-9.

Nipmuc opened the week with a close loss to explosive Wachusett, but rebounded nicely with a blowout win over BVT, and a surprisingly easy victory at home against Worcester. Nipmuc will immediately face a rematch with WooLax on Tuesday, before facing Hopedale on Thursday and non-league foe Belchertown on Saturday.

With wins over Worcester, Northbridge and Hopedale under their belt, the Warriors look like they could be the last team to give Grafton a challenge in Mid-Mass, and they've been surprisingly efficient on offense, with guys like Mike Manning and Tony Barbosa leading the way.

10. Worcester: 4-2, 2-1 Mid-Mass. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 9. Defeated Bromfield 10-2 and Agawam 10-8. Lost to Nipmuc 10-4.

These Warriors made short work of a pretty good Bromfield team and won a close one against Western Mass mainstay Agawam. Those were two quality victories, but that thud on Friday against Nipmuc stopped Worcester from enjoying a perfect vacation week.

As I said above, WooLax will get an immediate rematch Tuesday, and then will face a critical league rematch with Tantasqua on Thursday. The Warriors defeated Tantasqua earlier in the year 7-6.

The difference between all Mid-Mass teams below Grafton has been slim, and Worcester has a chance to throw itself right back to No. 2 in the league standings with a big week.

Dropped Out: Tyngsboro (8) and St. Bernard's (10).

Also in the Hunt: Leominster (4-2), Oakmont (2-2), Shepherd Hill (4-5), Shrewsbury (2-5).


Anonymous said...

Groton dunstable also beat Chelmsford on Saturday ... 4-0 for the week

Anonymous said...

1-5 Solid
6-10 ????

cant just be about wins and losses

Giving props to teams that beat winless opponents and/or tech league teams

Nipmuc seems to have a better sos than Marl at this point, has solid wins and "good" loses.

Woolax as well. They have two "good" losses and 2 solid wins.

GD Beats two ranked teams, beats a D1 East team and does what it has to do against Tewksbury and they are ranked 2 spots behind a team they beat and 3 spots behind a team they lost to by 1 in the last seconds of a game.

my two pennies:

10-Marl (maybe 9 but 2 wins vs winless teams doesn't prove much.)

either way, we have to love the year so far, and opinions are like....well you know...

Keep the ink coming Joe. Well Done

Joe Parello said...

You seem to be more in the Carl Setterlund boat (he doesn't even have Marlboro in his Top-10) on that one, and I certainly understand that perspective. The Panthers haven't played the toughest schedule, but man did they impress me when I saw them live against Tyngsboro to open the year. Now, that win doesn't look quite as good as it did a few weeks back, but that was still a convincing victory over a team with an All-American and a pretty good goalie.

Marlboro is still young, so it may be prone to off nights more than some other teams but, just based on pure talent, the Panthers are up there with the Mid-Wach A teams and St. John's. They're loaded with high-potential underclassmen, and are a ton of fun to watch when they're rolling.

Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading. I'll stay on my grind, haha.

Anonymous said...

I tend to like the person above's ranking! :)

You have seen more C Mass lax than anyone out there (your grind as you put it) so I will always give your thoughts some serious weight.

I too, believe Marl is a team to heavily consider.
I also don't think we should count Shrews out yet. They have played a tough schedule so far and did fairly well despite their record. (we'll see how the Shrew-GD game goes today)

I have no way to gauge WOO or NIP but its good to see them succeeding.

Thank you again for all your efforts


Anonymous said...

I understand that the weather was not cooperating on Tuesday. Hopedale/Grafton boys game was postponed due to field conditions at Hopedale. How come the game was not just moved to Grafton and played on their boys field, which is one of the best in the area? Hopedale girls made the trip to Grafton and played.

Anonymous said...

The answer is as simple as oh let's just change the game to grafton because the have the best field. By the time the AD had a chance to go to the field and check on the wet spots cause if you know Hopedale field it isn't the best it was so late. I talked to the coaches and they wanted to switch the game to grafton but were told that option is not available because trying to get a hold of the refs to let them know the field change and trying to get a bus for the boys lacrosse team with that little amount of time just wouldn't work. Also the girls had there games there, so does that mean switching the game to a night game with a 2 hour notice. People of other obligations like the refs. The don't want to be at the field on a Tuesday night for a lacrosse game. It was out the the hands of Hopedale boys lacrosse. Even know they will probably lose those games. They are still ready to battle it out with grafton and want to play them.