Dark horses: St. John’s Prep (14-5-1), Hingham (13-5-4).
Overview: Is this finally the Lancers’ year? Can the Harbormen repeat? There are plenty of storylines headed into Saturday’s first night of action. Malden Catholic is the definitive favorite, if for nothing else, based on the fact that they have three D-1 recruits on their top line. Prep has come on strong down the home stretch and they’re plenty talented. Hey, this has been a year of parity anyway, so wouldn’t it be fitting to see a dark horse emerge from the pack.
Barboza’s pick: They’re been the favorite from day one and we have no reason to change ship now. It’s the Lancers’ tournament to lose.
DIVISION 1: Favorites: North – St. Mary’s of Lynn (13-4-3), Billerica (10-2-8), Reading (15-6-1); South – Springfield Cathedral (12-10-1), Barnstable (13-3-4), Marshfield (14-3-5).
Dark horses: North – St. John’s of Shrewsbury (14-6-1), Austin Prep (10-6-4); South – Archbishop Williams (9-6-5), Xaverian (10-8-2).
Overview: Consensus is that the North is the stronger of the fields and it starts at the top of the field with St. Mary’s (which was bounced out of the Super Eight field), Billerica (which was the last team out of the Super Eight) and Reading (which a Super Eight Watch Lister). The South could be Springfield Cathedral’s to lose, but it remains to be seen how the Panthers rebound from Monday’s thumping against Woburn in the Super Eight play-in.
Barboza’s picks: North finals – St. Mary’s over Billerica; South finals – Braintree over Archbishop Williams; Final – St. Mary’s over Braintree.
DIVISION 2: Favorites: North – Wilmington (16-2-2), Winthrop (14-2-4), Saugus (12-1-7); South – Mansfield (17-2-1), Canton (15-3-2), Franklin (14-4-2).
Dark horses: North – Boston Latin (14-3-3), Tewksbury (14-5-1); South – Coyle-Cassidy (9-9-2).
Overview: Division 2 North might be our favorite bracket in the state. With a glut of Northeastern North teams clamoring for the for the top spot and Cape Ann stalwarts like Wilmington and Newburyport, this might be the most difficult section to predict. It might be a safe assertion that a team from the Hockomock League will be coming out of the South.
Barboza’s picks: North finals — Winthrop over Saugus; South finals – Franklin over Coyle-Cassidy; Final – Winthrop over Franklin.
DIVISION 3: Favorites: North – Shawsheen (15-4-1), Marblehead (15-4-3); South – Bourne (18-2-0); Abington/East Bridgewater (15-2-3); Central – Hudson (18-2-0); West – Longmeadow (15-4-1).
Dark horses: Dracut (15-3-1), Dartmouth (14-4-2), Medway (13-6-1), Wachusett (14-4-2).
Overview: In the North, Shawsheen and Marblehead will be strong favorites, but the South should be wide open with 27-team field. Hudson and defending champion Longmeadow figure to once again have influence on the statewide tournament.
Barboza’s picks: North champion – Marblehead; South – Dartmouth; Central – Hudson; West – Longmeadow; State champion – Hudson.
DIVISION 3A: Favorites: Central – Groton-Dunstable (17-2-1); West – Holyoke (18-1-1).
Dark horses: Oakmont Regional (9-6-3), Wahconah (18-2-0).
Overview: Groton-Dunstable takes the top seed coming out of the Central, but all eyes will be on the Purple Knights of Holyoke, who were the last team in the state to carry an undefeated record into the month of February. Defending champion Oakmont Regional should also have a say in the Central.
Barboza’s picks: Holyoke over Groton-Dunstable in the championship.
GIRLS’ TOURNAMENTS DIVISION 1: Favorites: St. Mary’s of Lynn (19-0-3), Woburn (18-1-1), Lexington (14-2-4).
Dark horses: Hingham (16-4-2), Arlington (14-5-1), Billerica (14-6-1).
Overview: The Lady Spartans keep steaming along and are on schedule to reach consecutive game No. 100 without a loss in the first round of the tournament. It’s hard to pick against the winners of the three previous tournaments, but St. Mary’s will face stiff competition from Middlesex entrants Woburn and Lexington, among others.
Barboza’s picks: Semifnals – St. Mary’s over Arlington and Woburn over Acton-Boxborough; Final – St. Mary’s over Woburn.
Dark horses: Fontbonne (13-2-5), Canton (11-6-3), Walpole (14-4-2).
Overview: Defending Division 2 champion drew the 17th seed, so it’s likely that we’re looking a new state champion. Norwood, Duxbury and Medfield drew the top seeds, but Fontbonne Academy might have the brackets best player in forward Taylor Shepherd and her 32-goal season.
Barboza’s picks: Semifinals – Fontbonne over Norwood and Duxbury over Medfield; Finals – Duxbury over Fontbonne.