Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Central Mass Lacrosse Playoff Race Update: 5/16/17

Winners of eight in a row, the Shrewsbury Colonials are officially tournament eligible.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Yesterday we brought you our latest Central Mass Top-10, and today we're going to keep you up to date on which CMass lax teams are tournament bound, and which will be finishing their seasons a little earlier than they had hoped.

As a quick reminder: MIAA lacrosse teams qualify for their respective sectional tournament either by finishing with a .500 record (with the exception of games against teams not recognized by the MIAA), or by finishing in the Top-2 of their league. Central Mass teams compete in three sections across two divisions (D2 and D3 Central/West, plus D3 Central/East).

Let's dive in below.

Division 2 Central/West

Already In (3): St. John's (12-2), Shrewsbury (10-5), Tantasqua (10-5)

Almost There (3):
Nashoba (8-6), Shepherd Hill (8-7), Wachusett (8-6)

On the Bubble (5): Algonquin (5-10), Leominster (4-9), Marlboro (6-8),  North Middlesex (4-10), Worcester (7-8)

Eliminated (2): Fitchburg (1-9), Westboro (0-11)

The Pioneers have been in for a bit now, but Monday's win over Franklin and Wednesday's game against Western Mass power Longmeadow will go a long way toward tournament positioning. Now winners of eight in a row, Shrewsbury looks ready for another big tournament run as well.

Tantasqua became tournament eligible with a pair of wins against Hopedale last week, and the Warriors will begin fighting for seeding position today against league foe Nipmuc.

Nashoba has come on strong, and only needs one win in its final four, while Shepherd Hill needs two wins out of its final five games to make the dance. Wachusett is in great shape after a win against Worcester yesterday. The Mountaineers now only need one win in their final four contests.

As we move to the bubble, things are looking grim for a number of programs. Algonquin cannot get to .500 but, if the T-Hawks can win their last three Mid-Wach A games, they have an outside shot of tying for second place in the league at 5-3. That would mean they would need to defeat both league favorites in Shrewsbury and Groton-Dunstable, and then would need the loser of the upcoming Shrewsbury vs G-D game to lose yet another league game.

So you're saying there's a chance…

Leominster quite simply needs to win its final five games in a row to make the tournament. Marlboro, meanwhile, needs to win three of its final four (against Groton-Dunstable, Bromfield, Tyngsboro and Shepherd Hill). North Middlesex can't get to .500, so the Patriots will need to fight for a Top-2 spot in Mid-Wach C. As it stands, the NM is only a half-game behind Lunenburg and Bromfield with four league games left.

WooLax, finally, is really smarting from that overtime loss to Wachusett, Worcester now needs to win two out of its next three against Hopedale, Tantasqua and Nipmuc.

Division 3 Central/West

Already In (4):
Grafton (14-2), Nipmuc (11-1), Nashoba Valley Tech (10-3), St. Bernard's (10-5)

Almost There (3): Assabet (7-6?), Blackstone Valley Tech (8-4), Monty Tech (8-6)

On the Bubble (0)

Eliminated (4):
Advanced Math & Science Academy (0-11), Auburn (2-11), Northbridge (4-9), St. Peter-Marian (3-14)

Grafton is thinking top seed after besting Nipmuc last week, while the Warriors would love to see the Indians for a rubber match in the tournament. Those two Mid-Mass. rivals are joined in the field by Nashoba Valley Tech and St. Bernard's, but a few programs have the chance to play their ways in soon.

Blackstone Valley Tech and Monty Tech seem inevitable at this point, seeing as BVT only needs one more win and Monty Tech needs just two wins in its next six. Add in the fact that both teams sit in the Top-2 spots in the Colonial, and they are as close to "locks" as you can get, but you've still got to take care of business.

Assabet, meanwhile, appears to only need two wins in its final four to make the dance. I can't find a score for the Aztecs' game against winless Minuteman Tech anywhere, so for now I've put them in for a win, which would make them 7-6.

Division 3 Central/East

Already In (4): Groton-Dunstable (13-2), Hopedale (11-4), Littleton (12-2), Tyngsboro (11-3)

Almost There (2):
Bromfield (7-6), Lunenburg (8-6)

On the Bubble (2): Hudson (3-10), Oakmont (5-7)

Eliminated (0):

The good news is every CMass team that plays in D3 C/E is still alive. That includes favorites Groton-Dunstable and Littleton, plus upstart Hopedale and resurgent Tyngsboro, all of whom have already punched their tickets to the tournament.

After that, D3 C/E gets pretty interesting. On one hand, you have Bromfield and Lunenburg in great shape. Each has a winning record, and both are tied at 5-2 in Mid-Wach C, good for first place in the league. Lunenburg and Bromfield each only need to win two of their last five.

On the bubble, Oakmont can qualify by winning three of its final four, or by sneaking into second place in the league. The Spartans currently sit at 4-2 in Mid-Wach C, just a half-game behind the two aforementioned leaders.

Hudson, meanwhile, would need a minor miracle to make the tournament. The Hawks can't get to .500, but could still reach the Top-2 of Mid-Wach C. It's unlikely, but Hudson does have five league games left. If the Hawks win all of those to get to 6-4 in the league, they would need to root for Lunenburg, Bromfield, Oakmont and North Middlesex to all drop some uncharacteristic games.

Again, very unlikely, but hey, it could happen.

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