Friday, May 26, 2017

MIAA Boys' Lax Seeding Instant Analysis: D1 North

Can anybody hang with Lincoln-Sudbury in D1 North?
By Michael Abelson (@ABELS0N)

The boys lacrosse brackets were drawn up at the MIAA office in Franklin and, while some things have certainly changed since last season, Lincoln-Sudbury atop Division 1 North did not.

Here's a reminder that none of this is official until tomorrow. Nevertheless, here is you D1 North bracket.
Click to enlarge.

The Warriors drew a unanimous pick for the top spot in the coaches poll which rubber stamped them as the number one overall seed in the section.

From there it got more gray as the rest of the top teams in the section all played and beat each other. Reading, Acton-Boxboro, and Andover were all bandied about to round out the top four of the coaches poll, and when the dust settled the order in the final seedings went Andover-AB-Reading.

North Andover, Revere, and Chelmsford filled out the middle of the 11-team section. Billerica, Masconomet, Waltham, and Central Catholic rounded out the field.

It was completely expected that L-S would take the spot, and they will be the heavy favorites to win the sectional title again. Beyond that the section is as tight as it has been in a long time.

Andover went 16-4 with road wins over Acton-Boxboro and Chelmsford and neutral-site wins over Concord-Carlisle and Wellsley. The Warriors feature a strong, veteran core of plays like Mike Biddle, Bret Miller, and Brendan & Matt Croston. With several players that played key roles in the hockey team’s run to the North sectional final the Warriors feature a battle-tested bunch that has the ability to win games.

Acton-Boxboro gave L-S a run for two-plus quarters, and even led early in the second half, before the Warriors turned it on and beat the Colonials. Pat Ammendolia’s team is well-schooled and tested with wins over Andover, Concord-Carlisle, and Marshfield. If the Colonials can play a full 48 minutes like they did in the first half against LS they can beat anybody.

Reading returned most of its roster that made the North final last season and backed up high expectations with a 15-3 record. The Rockets best wins came over Andover, Winchester, and Beverly, and they have weapons all across the field. CJ Hart is one of the state’s top goalies, and the attacking trio of Kevin Tobin, Michael Tobin, and Jack Geiger can score on anybody. A potential rematch with L-S looms for them in the sectional semis.

After a rocky 4-3 start, North Andover finished the season 9-2 and roll into the tournament on a five-game winning streak that includes three wins over tournament teams. The Scarlet Knights swept Chelmsford twice in the final stretch of the season.

Revere drew the six seed out of the Northeastern Conference, and the big question for them will be whether they will be able to contend with a higher level of competition of teams than they saw during the season. The Patriots went 17-2, but their best wins came against Northeast Tech and Manchester-Essex.

The Chelmsford Lions run a smart, stifling zone defense and feature one of the state’s top scorers in Jake Green. The Lions started the season white hot with a 12-1 record but limped to a 2-3 finish with all those losses coming against teams seeded above them in the bracket (North Andover twice & Andover once).

Billerica made the sectional semis last year but was hit hard by graduation. In a rebuilding year the Indians went 12-9, were swept by Chelsmford for the first time ever, and went 6-5 in the month of May. In May the Indians’ wins came against teams with losing records while the losses came against teams with winning records.

Masconomet started the season 1-7 and finished 8-4 with wins over North Reading, Triton, and Beverly. Tom Cobb’s squad could steal a win early on in the tournament.

Waltham, from the Dual County League, won its last eight games of the season highlighted by a win over Natick. A hot team is always a tough team to play, and the Hawks enter the tournament on fire.

The D1 North field is rounded out by Central Catholic. The Raiders went 10-8 in the Merrimack Valley Conference with its best win coming against Newburyport.

The sectional title is Lincoln-Sudbury’s to lose. Reading or North Andover will be a tough matchup in the semifinal, but the real fun is on the other side of the bracket.

A potential Andover-Chelmsford quarterfinal could be a five-star matchup after the Warriors snuck out of Chelmsford with a 9-8 win a few weeks ago. Add in Acton-Boxboro and that side of the bracket could produce serious fireworks.

SEMIFINAL PICKS: Lincoln-Sudbury over Reading, Acton-Boxboro over Chelmsford

L-S over A-B

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