I won't waste your time with any introductions, since I've already written a year in review, and presented my final Power Rankings of 2016.
So, without further ado, here are our All-Stars and Award Winners for the 2016 Central Mass lacrosse season. Note that under each position tier (first team, second team, third team, honorable mention) players are listed alphabetically by school, and that you can click any image to enlarge.
|Hopedale senior attackman Noah Luccini|
Griffin Shoemaker, Jr. Littleton
Curtiss Vachon, Sr. St Bernard's
Trevor McNamara, Jr. Westboro
Cam Moran, Sr. Leominster
Ryan Mechler, So. Marlboro
Mike Frio, Jr. Tantasqua
Noah Luccini, Sr. Hopedale
Eric Glover, So. Monty Tech
Tristan Pietz, So. Shepherd Hill
Hunter Fraser, Sr. Grafton
Matt Ward, Jr. Shrewsbury
Drew Kozub, Jr. St. John's
Shoemaker, Vachon, McNamara and Moran all did so much for their offenses this year, that they were pretty much no-brainers. Vachon made history, Shoemaker scored goals in boat-loads, McNamara ran circles around some excellent defenses, and Moran gave Leominster one of the league's most exciting attacks.
Frio was one of three great attackmen at Tantasqua, but his 100 points, and 67 goals, make him the most dominant scorer in Mid-Mass. Mechler was a scoring machine on a team loaded with young offensive talent, and Luccini carried Hopedale to within a game of the program's first tournament berth.
Glover helped his team reach the postseason for the first time, and led Central Mass with a ridiculous 74 goals. Pietz, meanwhile, showcased elite quickness and emerged as top-flight scorer for Shepherd Hill, while Fraser came alive in the playoffs for Grafton, earning the D3 C/W tournament MVP award.
Ward was tough to stop once he got rolling around the cage, and Kozub helped St. John's laugh off the idea of a rebuilding year.
|Tyngsboro junior middie Kyle Laforge|
Mike Martens, Sr. Algonquin
Chase Kapuscienski, Sr. Grafton
Kyle Laforge, Jr. Tyngsboro
Andrew Cox, Sr. St. John's
Dan Turgeon, Jr. Wachusett
Charles Katz, Sr. Westboro
Liam McDonough, So. Groton-Dunstable
Anthony Rausa, Jr. Littleton
Devin Pietz, Sr. Shepherd Hill
Dom Carter, Fr. Marlboro
Ryan Richards, Jr. Nipmuc
Tom Muir, So. Tantasqua
|Worcester junior LSM Luke Hanlon|
Chris Campbell, So. Shrewsbury
Luke Hanlon, Jr. Worcester
Nick Hart, Sr. Grafton
Liam Doherty, Sr. St. John's
Ifeatu Melifonqu, Jr. Grafton
Cam Shoemaker, Jr. Littleton
Matt O'Brien, Sr. Grafton
Andrew Estella, Jr. St. John's
This midfield is just so absurdly loaded with Grafton talent, especially on the defensive end, and that's a big reason why the Indians were able to get back to the state championship game. Obviously, Chase Kapuscienski's move the midfield helped the offense, but with LSM Nick Hart doing all the dirty work, fellow LSM Ifeatu Melifonwu emerging as another premier defender, and Matt O'Brien continuing to get it done in all phases, it's easy to see why Grafton's midfield was one of the state's best.
Outside of the Indians, All-American Mike Martens and 2015 All-American Kyle Laforge were absolute no-brainers. Each was outstanding at the face-off X, and could create offensively whenever their team needed a goal. Fellow All-American Andrew Cox was St. John's top two-way player, and Dan Turgeon led Mid-Wach A in scoring for the surprising Mountaineers.
Katz was a perfect complement to McNamara in Westboro's prolific offense, and McDonough did a little bit of everything for G-D. Rausa's size and athleticism made him a tough guy to defend, and a tough guy to keep away from ground balls, while Devin Pietz had an outstanding all-around senior season.
Freshman Dom Carter emerged as the most dangerous player in a loaded Marlboro midfield, while Ryan Richards helped Nipmuc have one of its best seasons in program history. Tom Muir served as the facilitator of Tantasqua's high-powered offense, setting the table for the Warriors' talented attackmen, and finding the back of the net 25 times himself.
Defensively, Chris Campbell was a beast LSM for Shrewsbury, and Luke Hanlon showed a great nose for the ball with WooLax. Liam Doherty dominated ground balls and the face-off X for St. John's, and Cam Shoemaker was an underrated defensive presence for Littleton. Finally, Andrew Estella served as another outstanding defender for St. John's, helping the Pioneers clamp down on some pretty good teams down the stretch.
|St. John's senior pole Kieran Lyons|
Tom Nicalek, Jr. Grafton
Connor Dubzinski, Jr. Wachusett
C.J. Gallagher, Jr. Worcester
Dan Howes, Sr. Groton-Dunstable
Ben Church, Sr. Littleton
Devin Greene, Sr. St. John's
Danny Bartosiewicz, Jr. Grafton
Zack O'Brien, Sr. Tantasqua
Nick Gallo, Sr. Westboro
Justin Leva, Jr. Algonquin
Brandan Lefebvre, Jr. Nipmuc
Kieran Lyons, Sr. St. John's
Nicalek, Gallagher and Dubzinski were the class of CMass poles, each leading their respective defenses, and contributing in multiple ways. Howes proved to be a lock-down defender for the Crusaders, while Church emerged as a physical enforcer as a senior for the Tigers.
Greene and Lyons were two-thirds of a physical St. John's defense (big Sam Correnti being the other third), while Bartosiewicz was the best "No. 2" pole in the region. O'Brien had yet another outstanding season for a Tantasqua team that surprised down the stretch, and Gallo's athleticism in front of the cage was a big part of Westboro's underrated defense. Leva is a young, athletic defender, who emerged as a thorn in opposing attackmen's sides, while Lefebvre was the top guy on Nipmuc's top-ranked defense.
|Grafton senior goalie Cadrin Msumba|
Colton King, Sr. Algonquin
Cadrin Msumba, Sr. Grafton
Matt Mongeau, Jr. St. John's
Jeff Bernard, Sr. Westboro
J.T. Rothera, Jr. Shrewsbury
Drew Cannistraro, Sr. Nipmuc
Eric Rauker. Jr. Littleton
Robby Atwood, Sr. Nashoba
King finally earned All-American status this year, and Msumba was again stellar in cage for the outstanding Grafton defense. Mongeau was a surprise standout as a first-year starter, playing like a seasoned vet for the Pioneers, while Jeff Bernard's tireless work helped turn Westboro into a contender.
Rothera was another bright spot during a rough year for Shrewsbury, and Cannistraro actually led the region in goals against average (4.81) during a breakout campaign for Nipmuc.
Finally, Rauker's athleticism made him a unique player in net for Littleton, and Atwood provided leadership and stability for a young Chieftain squad. Oh yeah, and he turned in double-digit save performances game-in and game-out.
Offensive Player of the Year
Littleton was a bit of a surprise this year, but Shoemaker putting up video game numbers wasn't. What was surprising, was how the junior continued to pile up the points, even as the competition grew fiercer, and as a league title and playoff positioning came into play.
Shoemaker was flat-out unstoppable when he decided to go to the cage, finishing second in the region with 70 goals, but when the slide came, he proved a willing passer, dishing out 37 assists, and creating countless opportunities for his teammates.
Littleton is bringing plenty of talent back for what should be an exciting run next year, and it all starts with Shoemaker.
Defensive Player of the Year
Grafton's defense was as good as any in the state, and Indians goalie Cadrin Msumba is our reigning DPOY, so i think it's fitting that another Grafton defender gets the honor this year.
Nicalek was moved around a ton, but no matter where he was, he was always making an impact, and his awareness and toughness make him Grafton's most versatile defender. Whether he was taking on the opposition's top scorer, or helping top side or around the cage, Nicalek was always right where Grafton needed him to be.
Breakout Player of the Year
There were many deserving young players across the region, but McDonough's game jumped out at me when I caught the Crusaders take down Marlboro earlier this year.
The versatile sophomore was everywhere: Dominating the face-off X, snagging ground balls, dishing out assists, and scoring late goals to pull his team away. His combination of power, speed, stick skills and effort made him an indispensable piece of Groton-Dunstable's surprising run with such a young team.
Look for McDonough and the rest of the Crusaders to come back looking for more next season.
Player of the Year
This spot is usually reserved for a do-it-all middie who impacts the game on both ends of the field, but McNamara was such a dominant scorer, that he made Westboro nearly unstoppable in defense-minded Mid-Wach A.
McNamara would finish second in the league with 74 points, but was easily its most lethal goal scorer. His 64 goals were the most of any Central Mass player in Division 2, and he seemed to assert his will in the biggest games.
McNamara scored a tying goal with less than 30 seconds to play against Grafton on May 23rd, then scored the overtime game-winner moments later, finishing the day with 8 points (5G, 3A) in a 9-8 victory. The explosive attackman also engineered Westboro's surprising blowout of St. John's, scoring five goals and dishing out an assist in a 9-3 route of the Pioneers.
Because he came up big in the biggest moments, and powered one of the Division 2's best offenses all season, McNamara is our choice for Central Mass Lacrosse Player of the Year 2016.
Coach of the Year
As I began asking around about this award, a few names kept coming up. Eric Moxim at Hopedale, John Pedace at Tantasqua and Alan Rotatori at Grafton (our winner from last year). And no, I wasn't just talking to Mid-Mass people. But, when I brought up the job first-year coach Tim Montgomery had done at Westboro, it was met with universal praise. Quite frankly, Montgomery took over a pretty good team that had just lost an All-American (Jake Foster), and made it one of the best teams in Division 2.
A league crown, Top-3 seed in the D2 C/W tournament, district semifinal appearance and 16 wins later, and the results on the field speak for themselves. Montgomery's first year on the job was a masterpiece, as he turned the Rangers into one of the region's most explosive offenses, and stingiest defenses, all while playing in Central MA's toughest league.
A six-goal win over St. John's, along with a pair of one-goal wins against Grafton made Westboro our top team, and those same victories made Montgomery tough to beat as our Coach of the Year.