Friday, May 26, 2017

MIAA Boys' Lax Seeding Instant Analysis: D1 South

Could Franklin be a sleeper in loaded Division 1 South?
By Mike Abelson (@ABELS0N)

A quick reminder that this bracket is not official until tomorrow, just in case there's been a formulation error. That said, here are a couple quick thoughts from Division 1 South.

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It’s one of, if not the, deepest sections in the state. Division 1 South is filled with landmines for top-seeded BC High as they look to win a second straight D1 South title. The bracket runs 18 teams deep, and a whole slew of them have what it takes to make a run to the sectional crown. Here’s a breakdown of the top teams in the section and a few sleepers heading into the tournament.

BC High is the top seed and rolls into the tournament with a 15-3 record. A stretch of three losses in four games midway through the season when Will Bowen was on the sidelines with a knee injury was the lone dark spot on an otherwise spectacular season. The Eagles have built themselves into a multi-dimensional team at both ends of the field, and ended the regular season on a nine-game winning streak. They’re the one seed for a reason, and won’t be unseeded easily.

Right behind them is Needham. The Rockets lost to BC High in the first game of the season but have won 16 of 18 since. Needham features two of the state’s best in Jason Child and Sam Eisenstadt, and the Rockets have won big games at home and on the road.

After an uncharacteristically down 2016 season, the Duxbury Dragons returned the state’s elite with a vengeance. The Dragons went 14-5, but only lost two games in state (vs Lincoln-Sudbury & Longmeadow) and played two of the top teams in the country (Garden City & Pittsford from New York). Duxbury flexed its muscle early in May when it beat Hingham, Cohasset, and Medfield all in the same week. With Jack Wood, Riley Bergstrom, and Bobby Maimaron on the attack, the Dragons have the tools to return to the top of the D1 South mountain.

Last year’s sectional runner up, Newton North proved 2016 wasn’t a fluke by posting a 14-4 record this season. The Tigers won 13 straight during the season with wins over Natick and Cohasset headlining the run. A three-game losing streak towards the end of the season, with losses to powers Walpole, Needham, and Franklin, show that North still has room for improvement, but all the pieces are there.

Franklin has been trying to break through the ceiling to the state’s elite the last few years and they has the ability to get it done in 2017. Each of the last three years the Panthers have made it to at least the sectional quarterfinals, with a semifinal run in 2015 being the highlight. Junior attack Eric Civetti anchors a Franklin offense that scored 15 or more goals eight times this season.

Franklin came up a goal short against BC High, St John’s (Shrewsbury), Dover-Sherborn, and Walpole. If a few bounces go their way, and the attack plays to its potential, and the Panthers could definitely break through and make 2017 their year.

Further down the bracket is Wellesley. The six seed is coached by Rocky Batty, one of the state’s best, and is always a consistent player in the south section. Xaverian is another dark horse at the 12 seed. Hampered by injuries all season the Hawks still have solid talent on the field, and one of the best coaches in the state in Tim Gardner, so they can never be counted out.

BC High over Franklin, Needham over Duxbury

Needham over BC High

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