Monday, May 21, 2018

Central Mass Lax Playoff Race Update: 5/21/18

Thanks in large part to Mason Kohn's dominance at the faceoff-X, Shrewsbury is playing its best lacrosse as the tournament nears. Photo by Sydney LaQue.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Oh, hey guys!

I know, I know, it's been too long. Since I've gotten a new job and started the process of getting my teaching license, I just haven't had the time to get out on the road and do my usual Central Mass lacrosse thing.

Quite frankly, it's a bummer.

But, all is not lost. Some of our great young writers have provided outstanding CMass lax content this season and, with help from them and a few other people I trust across the region, we are still planning on doing our annual CMass Lax All-Star Team.

With that update out of the way, let's get to the matter at hand: Tournament qualification.

We're hitting crunch time for a bunch of teams hoping to make the tournament, meaning these next two weeks will be make or break for a number of programs across the region.

Let's take a look at who's in, who's out, and who still has work to do.

Division 2 Central/West

In (6): Algonquin (10-3), Marlboro (11-3), Nashoba (9-5), Shrewsbury (9-7), St. John's (10-4), Tantasqua (9-4),

Out (4): Fitchburg (1-10), Wachusett (4-12), Westboro (3-11), Worcester (3-13)

On the Bubble (2): Leominster (6-7), Shepherd Hill (7-7)

Algonquin is once again looking like a team that can contend for state titles, while Marlboro is still somehow flying under the radar, despite an explosive collection of future college players. Nashoba has to be the surprise of this group, especially considering the Chieftains have done it in a brutally deep Mid-Wach B.

Shrewsbury is riding a four-game winning streak into a huge showdown with Algonquin today, while St. John's is St. John's, and Tantasqua has reloaded well after losing a tremendously talented senior class from a season ago. Speaking of St. John's, the Pioneers clearly have the talent to make a run out of the region, having battled reigning D2 Central/West champion Longmeadow to a close loss earlier this year.

The first squad on the bubble is much improved Leominser, and the Blue Devils might be the most intriguing team to watch over the next 10 days. They need to go 3-2 or better against a diverse slate that includes a trip to surprising Nashoba today, a home game against Tynsgboro Wednesday, a trip to Mid-Wach B power Littleton Friday, then a trip to Fitchburg next Tuesday, followed by another road game at Lunenburg next Wednesday.

Methinks that Leominster-Lunenburg game could be do-or-die for both teams…

But don't sleep on Shepherd Hill, which needs to split its final four games against Marlboro (today), Nashoba (Wednesday), at Tyngsboro (next Tuesday) and at Tantasqua (next Wednesday). The Rams snapped a three-game losing streak with a complete game against Leominster last week, and will need to keep that quality of play up if they hope to reach the tournament.

Division 2 Central/East

In (2): Groton-Dunstable (11-3), Bromfield (10-4)

Out (0): None

On the Bubble (0): None

The Crusaders enter their first year as a D2 competing in D2 Central/East, a loaded section full of Eastern Mass powers. The Crusaders will surely be battle tested, coming out of the all-D2 Mid-Wach A, and having played one of the tougher out of league schedules in the region.

Bromfield, meanwhile, gets in on the back of 10 wins and a sterling showing in Mid-Wach C.

Ed. Note- A previous version of this story left out Bromfield. We regret the error and promise to proof read better next time.

Division 3 Central/West

In (5):
Assabet (12-3), Blackstone Valley Tech (10-3), Grafton (10-4), Nipmuc (11-4), St. Bernard's (15-0)

Out (6):
Auburn (2-13), Monty Tech (2-13), Nashoba Valley Tech (0-7), Northbridge (2-13), North Middlesex (5-9), Sizer (0-10)

On the Bubble (2): Advanced Math & Science Academy (7-6), St. Peter-Marian (5-7)

Colonial powers Assabet and Blackstone Valley have already punched their tickets, as has three-time defending district champion Grafton and powerful Nipmuc.

The surprise of the season in this bracket has to be high-powered St. Bernard's rolling through the season thus far, and this district's bubble also offers plenty of intrigue.

St. Peter-Marian needs to win today at Advanced Math & Science academy to keep its tournament hopes alive, then the Guardians must also defeat Blackstone Valley Tech on Tuesday and Sizer on Thursday. Both of those games will be at home, at least.

AMSA, meanwhile, can punch its ticket by winning one of its last two games. After today's home game against SPM, AMSA will travel to Ashland on Thursday.

Division 3 Central/East

In (2): Hopedale (12-2), Littleton (11-3)

Out (2): Hudson (4-9), Tyngsboro (2-13)

On the Bubble (2): Lunenburg (7-7), Oakmont (7-5)

Hopedale is back in the tournament after qualifying for the first time last season, but the Blue Raiders still have plenty to play for this week. They host undefeated St. Bernard's today, and travel to Mid-Mass. power Grafton tomorrow for a game that could help them grab a share of their first ever league crown.

Littleton, meanwhile, is a tournament mainstay at this point, but will be battling for positioning, with big games this Wednesday at Marlboro, Friday at home against Leominster, and next Tuesday against EMass power Concord-Carlisle.

On the bubble you have a pair of Mid-Wach C teams who both have a great chance of getting in. While a .500 record locks up a tournament bid, so does a Top-2 finish in your league. With Oakmont sitting pretty atop Mid-Wach C at 6-0 in the league, the Spartans are in great shape, while Lunenburg needs to win two out of four against league foe Bromfield, North Middlesex, young Fitchburg and feisty Leominster.

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