Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Central Mass Lax Power Rankings: The End of 2016

Westboro's Trevor McNamara tries to get past Grafton's Tom Nicalek, as goalie Cadrin Msumba looks on.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've finally reached the end of a historic 2016 season for lacrosse in Central Mass, and we're ready to bring you our final Power Rankings.

While hairs can be split and debates had for each of these spots, here are the 15 teams (yep, we've gone from 10 to 15 to finish the year) that shined above the rest. For more on the 2016 season, check out our Year in Review, and be on the lookout for our 2016 All-Star team and Award Winners later this week.

Power Rankings

1. Westboro: 16-3, 8-2 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: Mid-Wach A Co-Champs, D2 C/W Semifinalist

You could certainly make a case for St. John's or Grafton here, as both went deeper into the tournament, but the bottom line is, Westboro defeat both St. John's and Grafton (twice) when they met the other top CMass teams on the field.

All-American Trevor McNamara and star goalie Jeff Bernard led one of the best turnarounds in the state, as the Rangers went from a good team, to arguably the best in the region. As I said, St. John's got a game farther in the D2 tournament, but both teams lost to eventual district champion Longmeadow by about the same (Westboro by 10, SJ by 9), and the Rangers' pair of one-goal victories over Grafton puts them ahead of the historic Indians in my book.

Congrats to Westboro, our top team in Central Mass lacrosse for 2016!

2. St. John's: 15-7, 1-0 Catholic Conf.

Accolades: D2 C/W Finalist

But, for the second consecutive year, St. John's was the most impressive D2 team in the tournament. This season, the Pioneers' upset of top-seeded Minnechaug in the D2 C/W semis was almost enough to push them to the top of my list.

Hard to deny the potential of this team moving forward, however, as attackmen Jack Donahue and Drew Kozub, along with goalie Matt Mongeau and a host of other stars return from a team that was maybe a year ahead of schedule in 2016.

3. Grafton: 19-6, 9-1 Mid-Mass.

Accolades: D3 State Finalist, D3 C/W Champs, Mid-Mass Champs

I'll be honest, it feels wrong to rank the Indians this low after making a second consecutive run to the D3 state championship game, but the ball just didn't bounce Grafton's way in a few high-profile CMass games.

Grafton lost a rainy slop-fest to St. John's, and dropped a pair of one-goal games to Westboro, but overcame those disappointments to knock off Mt. Greylock for another district title, and turn away Hanover to get to BU for the state championship game.

A tremendous senior class, led by All-American Chase Kapuscienski, goalie Cadrin Msumba and attackman Hunter Fraser have nothing to be ashamed of. This team caught fire at the end of the year for a second consecutive season, and made another historic run.

4. Algonquin: 13-7, 8-2 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: Mid-Wach A Co-Champs, D2 C/W Quarterfinalist

It will be an off-season of "what ifs" for the Tomahawks, who battled injuries down the stretch and limped to the finish. With a defense decimated by injury, and All-American middie Mike Martens hampered by a broken wrist, the T-Hawks dropped a late pair of league games, settling for a shared Mid-Wach A title, and didn't have enough for St. John's in a playoff rematch.

Martens and All-American goalie Colton King will both be playing Division 1 lacrosse next year in college, but look for guys like Zack Skowronek and Matt Cannon to pick up the slack next season.

5. Groton-Dunstable: 13-7, 5-5 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: D3 C/E Semifinalist

Going .500 in a D2 league as a D3 team is nothing to sneeze at, and anybody that saw Groton-Dunstable this season knows the Crusaders were a force to be reckoned with.

After an 0-3 start, G-D rattled off eight straight wins, including victories over Littleton, Marlboro, Shrewsbury and Tyngsboro.

The Crusaders would go on to defeat Bedford convincingly in the D3 C/E quarterfinals, but fell victim to eventual state champion Dover-Sherborn in the semis. Still, the foundation has been laid for a big run next season, with rising seniors Michael Tammaro and Jack O'Neil, along with rising junior Liam McDonough set to lead what should be a loaded G-D attack and midefield.

6. Littleton: 18-3, 9-1 Mid-Wach B

Accolades: Mid-Wach B Co-Champs, D3 C/E Semifinalist

One of the stories of the season, Littleton jumped out to an 11-1 start, and finished the season strong with seven consecutive victories, including a rubber-match playoff win against rival Tyngsboro, before falling to Weston in the D3 C/E semis.

It was a banner year for a number of Tigers, most notably All-American Griffin Shoemaker, but Littleton will bring back of wealth of talent for another run next year. With LSM Cam Shoemaker, attackman Jared Collari, middie Anthony Rausa, goalie Eric Rauker and a host of others returning around Griff, the Tigers should be even better in 2017.

7. Tyngsboro: 15-5, 9-1 Mid-Wach B

Accolades: Mid-Wach B Co-Champs, D3 C/E Quarterfinalist

Many people gave up on Tyngsboro after the Tigers began the year 3-4, but 2015 All-American middie Kyle Laforge put the team on his back, leading Central Mass in scoring with 115 points, and helping Tyngsboro win 12 in a row to end the regular season, including a rematch win over Littleton.

While their year did end at the hands of Littleton in the playoffs, Tyngsboro proved its 2015 was no fluke, and with Laforge returning alongside Matt Butler and underrated goalie Dan Powers, don't expect Tyngsboro to concede Mid-Wach B to Littleton any time soon.

8. Tantasqua: 15-7, 7-3 Mid-Mass.

Accolades: D2 C/W Quarterfinalist

Another team that started slow and finished strong. The Warriors also started their year 3-4, but ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak, and won a thriller against Marlboro in the first round of the Division 2 C/W tournament.

Led by a trio of junior attackmen, expect big things again from Tantasqua in 2017, as Mike Frio, Anthony Law and Ben Beaudry will all be seniors, and young middie Tom Muir will have a year of staring experience under his belt.

9. Wachusett: 13-9, 4-6 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: D2 C/W Quarterfinalist

The Mountaineers were another surprise team in 2016, scoring several significant victories, including wins over Algonquin, Shrewsbury, Groton-Dunstable, Nipmuc and St. Bernard's.

Led by a high-powered offense that featured three of Mid-Wach A's four leading scorers (Dan Turgeon, Mike Fritscy and Griffin LaPosta), a midfield headlined by the do-it-all Dion Dixon, and a defense featuring star pole Connor Dubzinski, Wachusett was a team nobody wanted to face.

With Dubz, LaPosta and Turgeon all coming back for their senior seasons, expect Wachusett to again contend in Mid-Wach A.

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

Accolades: Mid-Wach C Champs, D2 C/W Playoff Team

If there was ever a team ahead of schedule, the 2016 Panthers would seem to be it. With a roster full of underclassmen talent, Marlboro could have easily looked toward the future, but instead, this year's Panthers were a great team in their own right.

Led by sophomores Ryan Mechler, Devin Raun and Evan Doherty, along with freshman Dom Carter, Marlboro had enough young firepower to score on anybody. While they were ultimately defeated by Tantasqua in an 18-16 playoff thriller, the future is obviously bright for a team that will be loaded for the next two seasons… At least. 

11. Nipmuc: 13-8, 6-4 Mid-Mass.

Accolades: D3 C/W Semifinalist

Another program on the rise, Nipmuc scored its most impressive victory of the season against Grafton in late May, then followed that win with impressive victory over St. Bernard's. Nipmuc also scored impressive victories over Worcester and Wahconah (in the playoffs) on the year.

Give a ton of credit to Ryan Richards and Mike Manning for powering one of the region's most improved offenses, but man could this team play some defense. Led by goalie Drew Cannistraro, the Warriors surrendered just 5.7 goals per game (0.1 better than eventual state finalist Grafton), and made it all the way to the district semis.

12. St. Bernard's: 15-7, 2-0 Catholic Conf.

Accolades: D3 C/W Semifinalist

Another brilliant campaign by senior attackman Curtiss Vachon helped lead St. B's to within a goal of the district finals. A pair of wins over Western Mass mainstay Pope Francis (including one in the playoffs), and a victory over Worcester served as the season's highlights for the Bernardians, who enjoyed one of the best years in program history.

While St. Bernard's did lose a late lead to Mt. Greylock in the D3 C/W semis, this team fought through adversity to make it deeper in than tournament than anyone expected.

13. Worcester: 11-8, 6-4 Mid-Mass.

Accolades: D2 C/W Playoff Team

Now an annual contender, we're no longer shocked when Worcester is one of the better teams in Mid-Mass, and a playoff team in Division 2. Still, WooLax scored some big wins this year, earning victories over Tantasqua, Nipmuc and Agawam, and seemed to get better offensively as the year progressed.

With pole C.J. Gallagher and LSM Luke Hanlon both coming back for their senior seasons, expect Worcester to again be one of the better defensive teams in the region, but they'll need to find some more firepower up front next to Andrew Williamson to offset the loss of Quinn Robert to graduation.

14. Shrewsbury: 8-12, 4-6 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: Wins over Algonquin, Wachusett, Groton-Dunstable and Sharon

The Colonials fell victim to a brutal early schedule, and just never could dig themselves out of that initial hole to make the playoffs. Still, Shrewsbury was able to score victories over some of the very best teams in Central MA's toughest league, and junior Matty Ward emerged as one of the region's best scorers.

With Ward and LSM Chris Campbell both returning, expect a return to the tournament for Shrewsbury in 2017.

15. Blackstone Valley Tech: 10-9, 9-0 Colonial

Accolades: Colonial Conference Champs, D3 C/W Quarterfinalist

The Beavers join Marlboro as the only team to sweep its league en route to a conference championship. BVT also scored a huge playoff victory against rival Monty Tech, and rode senior Mike Jango to one of the more impressive offensive seasons in the region.


Aleke Msumba said...

Great season one and all. Very happy for all the teams that made the playoffs, all the great All-Americans, and all the seniors who finished their careers with panache. One quick data correction I believe Joe. Taking into consideration just that straight data points, Grafton defense
of poles Nicalek, Bartoseiwizc, Fontana, Hart, Cossemboom, Melifanwu, and goalies Msumba and Nicalek were the best defense in all of Central Mass - and all divisions by the numbers. Through 21 games (same as your stat with Nipmuc) Graftons defense GAA was approx 5.235. It only rose to 5.8 with 3 Additional games thru to the state title. Additionally, Grafton plays 11 other games against quality D1 and D2 teams. In order for there to be a true "apples to apples" comparison SJS, Algonquin, Westboro, Shrewsbury et al would need to play at least 5-6 games against quality D1 teams each year such as Duxbury, BCH, LS, Needham, Reading, Billerica and the like.

And a few comments on the state title game. Not only is that Dover-Sherborn team one of the best in the state regardless of division. (They beat Medfield in regular season, eventual D2 State champs), but a real class act on the field. Same with the student and parent fans. Very proud of the entire Grafton lacrosse community, the boys varsity team, and really going to miss all the seniors from not only Grafton but all the friends from teams across the leagues.

It has been a pleasure!

Anonymous said...

Aleke I've never seen someone so blindly endorse their town. Your comparison to Algonquin, Westboro, and Shrewsberry is just false. It is easy to have a 5.2 goals against average when more than half of your games are played against D3 teams who may only put it one
goal. I recall several games scores being 17-1 14-1 etc etc. The D2 teams you mentioned only play D1 and D2 teams all season. And grafton is still in the wrong division. You can fall back of the number of boys in the school but when you look at number of people who try out it is the same as Wachusett or GD or any team of that sort. Grafton is a joke.

Aleke Msumba said...

"Mr. Anonymous" - let's try this one more time. I'll use small words, simple syntax, and linear critical analysis so you can follow along.

1. First - why not sign your name? You actually have the panache to address me directly and then don't even identify yourself. But I digress. (Two syllables on that one; was that ok?)
2. Second - I will always endorse my town, my tribe, my people first. And quite frankly I don't like the other towns we play. Usually depends on sport, but Millbury takes the most ire during football etc. I like Townsend for some reason - maybe the name just seems more placid
3. Third - 12 of Grafton's 20 games this season were against D2 and D1 teams. So let's see, using 6th grade math that's 60% of Grafton's games that are not in their own division. So my comparison is accurate.
4. Fourth - lets just take the 4 teams above. Algonquin played exactly 1 D1 team this season AB. Shrewsbury 1 game v D1. Westboro 0 D1 games and SJS 5 D1 teams. The rest of the games were either D2 or D3 games. So in fact Grafton plays the most difficult schedule in all of CMASS "Every" Year by playing 11-12 games of teams in higher divisions. (And most of the D2 and D1 teams are quite good as evidenced by 8 of them making the playoffs)
5. Fifth - why is Grafton in the wrong division? Because they are a great lacrosse program across the board that starts with dedicated coaches and town support? Until the MIAA goes with something different, school size is the determining factor. (Dover-Sherborn is one of the smallest school sizes and boasts a team - and don't take this as cheerleading for DS, but I am, can beat any team in CMASS at anytime, anywhere.) But I don't begrudge them being in D3 where they belong.
Conclusion - what was your name again? Oh that's right Mr. Anonymous, Grafton plays up at least 100% more games than its next closest competitor in Central Mass so that was my primary data point behind the kudos for Grafton boasting a 5.2. GAA this season.
As for your last comment - calling Grafton a joke, no need to get ad hominem here. (Oh wait too many syllables, too "Latin" for you?)

Yeah -I'll back my town, especially when the data speak for itself. Quod erat demonstrandum. Nemo me impune lacessit.

My name is Aleke Msumba and I am from Grafton.

Anonymous said...

The other commenter is correct Aleke, Grafton is a joke. Just like its a joke that Cadrin Msumba was put ahead of some actually good goalies that face real competition like Bernard and Mongeau.

Over-Invested Dad Slayer said...

Ok "Mr. Aleke Msumba" - let's try this one more time. First I would like to commend you for your excellence in spelling and grammar. I'm glad over the course of your proactive online career as the Grafton Crusader you've acquired the skill to formulate an argument. Bravo.

1.) I don't sign my name as I do not have the same panache (great use of a thesaurus) as you. I do not pride myself on stooping to the level of such scum but to simply let you leave that comment un-contested would be a lack of civil duty.

2.) Your town is vulgar and lacking class in almost all areas. Is it not true that Grafton parents have had to been disciplined by the athletic director and threatened to be banned from attending their children's games? Interesting.

3.) When you say "higher divisions" please only refer to D1 teams. Again I will restate my argument as simply as you so kindly did for me. Grafton - 386 males enrolled 2015-2016, St Sebastian's - 375 males enrolled 2015-2016. By your logic and strict consideration of population of males St. Sebastian's should be in division three. But why aren't they you might ask? Because due to a presence of common sense and dignity they play to the division which best caters their skill. You can stay in division three, play up each year, lose, and go back to division three to mend your ego's but you simply will never convince I, nor the rest of central mass that you belong there.

4.) You seem to get off on numbers so I thought I would do you a solid on this lonely Sunday Morning. I'll take your games against the D2 teams you so vehemently attack; Westborough, Algonquin, and Saint Johns. Westborough (Game One 6-5 loss), (Game Two 9-8 loss), Saint John's (Game One 9-6 loss), Algonquin (Game One 8-5 Win). Woah? What is that I calculated? a 7.25 GA average against the teams who play "much easier" schedules? Hmmmm.

Now lets see some division three "competition". Amherst-Pelham Regional (Game One 17-2 win), Northbridge (Game One 19-0 win) proof you definitely belong in division three!), (Game Two 15-1 win), Hope Dale (Game One 15-4 win), (Game Two 15-4 win), Worcester Academy (Game One 14-3 win), (Game Two (not reported I'm guessing similar score but won't consider it for calculation), let's even dive into some of that spicy "higher division lacrosse". Tantasqua Regional Highschool, should be a tough game for a puny D3 school correct? (Game One 17-1 win). Let's keep going! Shrewsbury another tough D2 power house! (Game One 14-4 win)!! Wow lets calculate that GA average again! 2.71 GA! Now lets add those two values! 2.71 + 7.25 = 9.96 / 2 = 4.98! This number is eerily close to your actual goals against average of 5.2! Enjoy that but hopefully not too much!

I could write some cheesy line in latin but I have standards so I would rather not. Go be an adult.

Anonymous Over-Invested Dad Slayer said...

One last concluding sentence. Grafton's GA average is only as low as it is due to the D3 smackings they deliver yearly. In business we call these smackings outliers and they are usually either stricken from record, or investigated into why they are occurring. Playing in the incorrect division? Only a theory.

Anonymous said...

Westborough had the best defense in cmass.

Aleke Msumba said...

Well this conversation devolved quickly. Not really my intent. As you can see I stated Grafton played "quality" teams for their D2, D1 pairings. So not really fun or playful at all. Was just looking for some interesting discourse and some back and forth. But this conversation is no longer civil so I will bid you adieu.

Aleke C. Msumba said...

Okay - I can't resist one more comment. "Grafton a joke". Is that why they are the highest ranked team on the ESPN MIAA List?

Yeah and for the other anon commenter (if you are indeed different from the first) don't ever call out individual names of players without posting your name. You are obviously a coward who does have the courage to stand by what you believe by hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

Over-Invested Dad Slayer said...

Grafton may not be a joke. But those ESPN MIAA rankings certainly are... Introducing the transitive property of equality. If A > B B > C then A > C. In this case take A as Westborough, B as Saint Johns, and C as Grafton. If Westborough Beat Saint Johns, and Saint Johns Beat Grafton, AND Westborough beat Grafton (twice) how is it that C > A & B? Seems to defy some logic. These pieces come down to nothing but opinion and favoritism. But I'm glad they threw you guys some sort of bone, with all those loses to Westborough and Saint Johns and no D3 title handed to you we wouldn't want you leaving the season with nothing to drive you until next season. Enjoy. And for the civility of the conversation I'm pretty sure that ended with your condescending three liner regarding Anonymous's intellect.

Leaving Over-Invested Dad's everywhere speechless, it's again the one and only....

-Over-Invested Dad Slayer

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dad Slayer
You are simply a joke...........If you spoke to any opposing team that Grafton "Spanked" surely by the score, you would know that most, if not ALL, 1st and 2nd lines were out of those games either before or after 1st quarter was over, we have to put someone on the field, right? NOT to POUND them 30-1, opposing team deserves a beating like that is classy on the coaches part, he does the right thing in games of that nature.........and Get your Head out of your ASS, MIAA selects what division these kids play in......nobody else Bud.....Its really too bad and shameful you cant give these kids the credit that they deserve.........And Its real unfortunate that they have to read this CRAP from you as well, you are NOT slamming Mr. Msumba, you are slamming these kids, ALL OF THEM......Talk about NO CLASS Dad. They have all worked so hard to have the successes they have had, regardless of what division, get over yourself.........But by reading your comments, you clearly dont GET IT THAT THIS IT IS ALL ABOUT THE KIDS !! Maybe someday you will grow up

Anonymous said...

^ beef