Thursday, March 30, 2017

Your 2017 MIAA Lacrosse Primer: Division 1

By Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi)

It's lacrosse time in Massachusetts, and over the next few days we're going to be rolling out previews of all three MIAA divisions. We begin today with the state's largest division, where powerful Lincoln-Sudbury is going for a historic three-peat.

Teams to Watch

Lincoln-Sudbury: The favorites to return to the title game, and seeking their third straight championship, the Warriors are led by their faceoff specialist Junior Almeida, who gives them an advantage in the possession game. L-S loses quite a bit, with the departures of four key seniors, including Ivy League bound Conor McCarthy and Harlan Smart.

Trevor Lan Veer is still one of the best goalies in the division, and the Warriors should be able to hold teams down. L-S does lack a go-to scorer at the moment, something they lost in McCarthy, but Hayden Frey is expected to carry that load. Defender Dan Ryan and company are going to have to carry a lot of games for the Warriors while the team finds its footing, as far as putting balls in the back of the net. Ryan Donlan is back after missing time with injury as well to bolster the back end.

The Warriors also face a slew of out of state foes to get past, along with a tough non conference schedule and a Dual County League slate that is always difficult. If the Warriors get back to the finals, they will have earned it, and there’s a lot of room for growth with the program this season.

BC High: Will Bowen is arguably the best player in Division 1 and, like L-S, the Eagles are going to hold things down defensively. The North Carolina committed Bowen is looking to lead BC High back to the title game, where they fell to L-S last season. All-American AJ Kucinski is gone, which means the Eagles also need to find a way to generate offense.

Oskar Djusberg is also gone, two of 13 seniors to exit, to make things more difficult. The Eagles start off with a tough schedule, as they usually do, but they can’t really afford to to take a step back before they take a step forward, making it all more the urgent.  

Xaverian: Led by Sean Sperzel, Xaverian should be able to overcome the loss of Michael Toomey, but has a tough start to the season after an eight-loss regular season in 2016. The Hawks opening contests could have them behind the 8-ball early, but they’ll be battle tested when it matters later on, as they try to advance further than the south semi finals.

The Hawks should be a top five team all season if they can tread water, and if they get past an initial tough stretch, should be a mainstay for the rest of the year.

Needham: BU commit Jason Child looks to lead an upstart Rockets attack with Sam Eisenhardt returning as another top defender in the state. Needham is going to have an opportunity to sneak into the top three this season if Xaverian falls off with their tough schedule, or other traditional powers struggle with losing some of their top seniors.

Brendan Walsh is another sophomore who could break out, and senior Antonio Trabucco makes a lot happen, but Child is an attackman that seems on the verge of becoming one of the biggest forces in the state offensively.

Potential Sleepers: Reading, Billerica, Marshfield

Reading has a strong midfield led by Jack Geiger and brothers Kevin and Michael Tobin, but the Rockets will have a tough go of it to open the year with four road contests…. Billerica’s Gus Gobel in net will keep them in games…. Marshfield brings back Gavin Admirand and Cole McKenzie joins from Catholic Memorial after Marshfield was already a surprise last season.

Players to Watch

Sean Sperzel: Sperzel is one of the best attackers in the states and a glue player for Xaverian. The Penn State commit is a pure goal scorer, though he also has the ability to facilitate the others around him. With Toomey gone, however, the spotlight falls on Sperzel and he’ll need to be the go-to for the Hawks all season.

Will Bowen: UNC bound, Bowen makes an already stingy BC High that much more impossible to break. Recruited as a freshman to the Tar Heels, Bowen has only seen his game improve. He caused 77 turnovers on his own, and brings a dynamic element to a defensive unit.

Junior Almeida: With the emergence of players like Greg Gurenlian in the pro game, FOGOs are getting their due, and one look at the way L-S operates will prove that. Almeida is the heart and soul of a Warriors team that relies on having lots of possessions, and that’s what he gives them. Especially a team that has lost some offensive talent, the Warriors’ game begins and ends at the faceoff X.

Kevin Tobin: Reading has one of the most solid midfield groups in the state, and a lot of that comes from what Tobin can bring offensively. With 51 goals and 31 assists, he’s proven to have the ability to lead an offense. He also picked up 50 ground balls last season, and thus the ability to contribute away from the offensive third of the field as well.

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