Wednesday, June 1, 2011
ESPN Boston MIAA boys' lacrosse picks
By Scott Barboza
With the boys' lacrosse MIAA tournaments underway, we took a minute to break down the brackets and gaze into the crystal ball for some predictions.
As always, tell us what you think.
EASTERN MASS Division 1 Favorites: Duxbury (15-2), Billerica (18-2)
Sleepers: Marshfield (20-0), St. John's Prep (10-7), BC High (14-4), Masconomet (17-1).
Barboza's take: Many felt St. John's Prep's victory over Duxbury in last year's state championship game was still an upset, even after the Eagles had beaten the Dragons during the regular season. This year, Duxbury looks to reclaim its crown and, unlike last year, nobody has touched them in Massachusetts with all the third-seeded Dragons' losses coming out of state. Perhaps their closest opponent, No. 2 seed Billerica didn't take precedent from Prep's run last year, but the Indians may have laid the blueprint to upsetting Duxbury while leading the Dragons through three quarters before losing a 12-9 decision in an early April meeting. Unfortunately, the teams can only meet again in the D1 semifinal, so there's no chance for a rematch at Harvard Stadium. That also means the opportunity is ripe for another challenger to arise from the other side of the bracket with Marshfield (No. 1 seed), Prep (No. 9), Masconomet (No. 4) and Needham (No. 5) joining in the fray. It would be a rather unlikely path for the Eagles, who as recently as two weeks ago looked as though they might not qualify for the tournament, to return to Harvard. But fans might just get treated to another Duxbury-Prep classic, like last year's overtime thriller.
Prediction: Prep over Needham, Duxbury over Billerica in semifinals; Duxbury over Prep (and redemption is found) in the final.
Division 2 Favorites: Wellesley (16-0), Concord-Carlisle (16-1), Hingham (16-4).
Sleepers: Walpole (13-4), Reading (13-5), Winchester (12-5).
Barboza's take: Many felt that Division 2 helded the deeper pool of talented teams in Massachusetts this year. No. 1 seed Wellesley, No. 2 C-C and No. 3 Hingham were all fixtures in the top 10 of the ESPN Boston Top 25 poll throughout the season. The Bay State champion Raiders have been perhaps the state's most consistent team wire-to-wire and are led by conference MVP and Penn State commit goaltender Conor Darcey. The key to this tournament could be who isn't there with talented C-C attack Seth Bird lost to a broken collarbone, so the question will be if Tom Dalicandro's team has enough offensive firepower left to make a long run. You can never count out perennial power Hingham, which was a Eastern Mass. finalist last year. The darkhorses include Walpole behind a healthy Kyle Guilbert and Charlie Hardy's young but pesky Reading squad.
Prediction: Wellesley over Reading, Concord-Carlisle over Hingham in semifinals; Wellesley over C-C in final.
Division 3 Favorites: Dover-Sherborn (16-2), Weston (16-2), Cohasset (13-5).
Sleepers: North Reading (18-2), Hamilton-Wenham (11-5), Arlington Catholic (15-4).
Barboza's take: Does Dover-Sherborn have the monkey off its back now that the Raiders put down Medfield and claimed the TVL title for the first time? The top-seeded Raiders enter the tournament as the favorites but face an explosive Weston team behind Joey Pasquale and you can't forget about the defending champion Skippers of Cohoasset with the uber-talented Thomas Flibotte. Cape Ann League entrants North Reading and Hamilton-Wenham should also prove to be tough outs as the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively.
Prediction: Dover-Sherborn over Hamilton-Wenham and Cohasset over Weston in semifinals; Cohasset over Dover-Sherborn in final.
CENTRAL MASS Division 2 Favorites: Algonquin (16-4) and St. John's of Shrewsbury (13-5)
Sleepers: Oakmont (15-1) and Grafton (18-2)
Barboza's take: Even though Algonquin takes top seed in Central, the team that could end up on top is St. John's. The Pioneers took both contests against Algonquin this season and also claimed a victory over fourth seed Grafton in addition to a key win over Western power Longmeadow.
Prediction: Algonquin over Grafton and St. John's over Oakmont in semifinals; St. John's over Algonquin in final.
Division 2 Favorite: South Hadley (14-4)
Sleeper: Longmeadow (12-6)
Barboza's take: This has traditionally been Longmeadow's tournament to lose, but if we learned anything from the regular season it's that Western Mass was a whole new frontier this season. South Hadley has been perhaps the most consistent of the bunch, but West Springfield's early win over Longmeadow set a whole row of dominoes in motion. So you have to think the Terriers are very much in this. But, in the end, the sectional still goes through the Lancers.
Prediction: South Hadley over Longmeadow.