Boston High School: Tommy McLaughlin

Roundtable: Darcey vs. Stamatov, Best Lefties

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
11:41
AM ET
We're back with another installment of "Roundtable", our weekly takes on the hot topics of the spring season. This week, we discuss who is the best boys' lacrosse goalie in the state; which lefthanded pitchers will make the most noise; the state's best slap hitter; and who had the best individual performance of the season's first two weeks.

Joining us this week are correspondent Bruce Lerch, New England Prep Stars founder and editor Ryan Kilian, MassLive.com producer Ben Larsen, and Brockton Enterprise staff writer John Botelho. Without further ado:

1. BETTER GOALIE –- WELLESLEY’S CONNOR DARCEY OR FOXBOROUGH’S GREG STAMATOV?

ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Scott Barboza: That's a tough one. In many regards, they're similar players in that they're both not afraid to step up into the play when its warranted. They're not going to just clear and retreat when the opportunity presents itself. Stamatov had one clearing pass to the midfield during the third quarter against Barnstable that was a thing of beauty. And, of course, we all know that Darcey is capable of scoring when he carries the ball past midfield. This all makes no mention of their ability to stop the ball either. Either way you dice it, they're among the very best in a deep field of MIAA goaltenders along with Duxbury's Henry Buonagurio, Concord-Carlisle's Doug Gouchoe and Billerica's D.J. Smith.

Ryan Kilian, New England Prep Stars: Connor Darcey is the best goalie I have seen in New England Public High School lacrosse over the past two years. Darcey is the real deal. He possesses confidence, quickness, and exceptional hand-eye coordination.

The goalie position in Massachusetts in the Class of 2012 is as strong as it has been in many years. Doug Gouchoe of Concord-Carlisle (Air Force), Greg Stamatov of Foxborogh (Villanova), Jared Fong of Weston (Gettysburg), and Miles McCarthy of Catholic Memorial (Williams) are all exceptional athletes with bright futures at the next level and all have a unique set of skills that they bring to the table.

Darcey is also a born leader and that is an essential trait that all great goalies, like the above mentioned, share.

Bruce Lerch, correspondent: Both players have excelled for their respective teams and made a big splash over the summer participating in the Warrior 40 at Harvard Stadium. Both have also drawn the attention of Division colleges, as Darcey is committed to play for Penn State while Stamatov will take his talents to Villanova. Darcey was a key factor in Wellesey's 16-0 regular season a year ago, while Stamatov helped propel Foxborough to its best season ever by reaching the Division 2 semifinals. Darcey was rated eighth in ESPN High School's national goalie rankings back in February, but even if you have the second pick in this draft, you won't come away disappointed as Stamatov was not too far behind at No. 14.

2. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE SO FAR?

ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall: I think any time you throw a perfect game at any level, you should be highly commended as such. So here’s my kudos to Lynn English’s Ben Bowden, who had a clean sheet for the Bulldogs in their 5-0 win over Marblehead. Bowden struck out 14 in the full seven innings, and got some assistance from the infield behind him late to seal the deal. He is an imposing player to watch at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, equipped with a high-80’s fastball, so it’s hardly the last time we’ll hear from him.

That said, I’m always impressed when a pitcher goes into the triple-digits in pitch count this early in the season – and even moreso when it’s as efficient as Milford’s Jarrod Casey was on April 3. In the Scarlet Hawks’ season-opening 3-1 win over Westborough, the reigning Mid-Wach A MVP and returning ESPNBoston All-Stater threw 125 pitches and struck out 15 batters; he also belted an inside-the-park, two-run homer to give them all the insurance they needed.

John Botelho, Brockton Enterprise: The Bridgewater-Raynham softball team has shown plenty of early fireworks this season. Senior Audrey Dolloff twirled a four-hitter and struck on eight on opening, all while going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI for the Trojans. Freshman Emily Kurkul has homered in all three games so far. Most recently, Dolloff tossed a no-hitter against Durfee, and her performance might not have even been the best one on the field that day for B-R. Sophomore Madison Shaw went 4-for-4 with two homers, a double and seven RBI as the Trojans cruised.

Ryan Kilian: The best individual performance that I have seen on the lacrosse field so far was Westford Academy attack Jay Drapeau scoring six goals and dishing out one assist in a 12-11 opening day win over Billerica. The sophomore scored the game winner in the fourth quarter and was exceptional dodging from X all afternoon. Drapeau also did this against a very formidable defense led by Tommy McLaughlin (UMass) and one of the state’s best goalies in DJ Smith (UMass).

Ben Larsen, MassLive.com: It would be hard to top this one. Noah Parker, a terrific talent hidden at St. Mary’s of Westfield was perfect in a six-inning game against Pioneer Valley Christian. He threw only 57 pitches, striking out 14. At the plate, he narrowly missed hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.

Bruce Lerch: On the lacrosse fields, several players have produced nine-goal games in the early going. Kobie Sullivan had seven, nine and eight goals in Fairhaven's first three games. On the girls side, Wayland's Amy Cunningham, Amy also struck for nine against Bedford. But my top effort goes to Masconomet's Jake Gillespie, who potted nine in the Chieftans' second game of the year against a BC High defense that includes a pair of Division 1 recruits.

3. A LEFTHANDED STARTER CAN BE INVALUABLE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. WHICH LEFTIES WILL YOU BE WATCHING THE MOST?

Brendan Hall: The Class of 2012 is littered with Division 1-bound lefties, between Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea (Central Michigan), East Longmeadow's Steve Moyers (Rhode Island), Pentucket's Alex Ministeri (Coastal Carolina), Auburn's Connor Fuller (Fordham), Xaverian's Tim Duggan (Fairfield) and Acton-Boxborough's Ryan McDonald (Bryant). One we might be adding to that list in a year's time is Wellesley senior Tim Superko.

Superko is already off to a great start in 2012, with wins in his first two starts in dominant fashion -- 23 strikeouts in 12 innings, an ERA of 0.75, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four, and a strike percentage of 67. I'm obviously working with a stat system pretty sophisticated for the high school level, but I can assure you Superko could care less. He's a competitor, unafraid to challenge hitters in the middle of the order, but also very coachable. Raiders coach Rob Kane raves about Superko's curveball, and he sets it up well with his heat. From the plate, he's not that bad either; so far he's hitting .500/.562/.786 with five RBI, two triples, seven runs and three stolen bases.

Superko is heading to Philips Andover for a post-graduate year next season. I expect him to have a Division 1 scholarship offer in his lap by this summer's end.

I'd also keep an eye on the aforementioned Ben Bowden from Lynn English. He's got an ideal power pitcher's frame, and if the reports about him topping out at 89 miles per hour in his perfect game are true, then he has a chance to rise quickly on the radar. But to be a reliable starter at this level, you need a quality changeup, and Bowden's is pretty nice.

Boston Latin sophomore Pat Naughton is certainly another one to look out for over the next two years. He fanned 17 Wayland batters in an outing last year as a freshman, and is already off to a good start this year with 14 K's in the Wolfpack's season-opening win over Latin Academy. Also keep an eye on Reading junior Scott Tully, who committed to Notre Dame last February, as well as Malden Catholic junior Joe Velozo.

John Botelho: One of the best lefties in the state hasn't even thrown a pitch yet. Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea, a 6-foot-3 southpaw already signed on to play at Central Michigan next year, will take to the mound for the first time next week. Hall of Fame coach Leo Duggan aired on the side of caution as O'Shea was battling shoulder soreness. He has a chance to come back and be the best pitcher on an O-A team that has still gone 3-0 without him in the lineup.

Brockton's Joe Sever has a live arm and features impressive off-speed stuff. The ace of the Boxers' staff this year, he has a chance to catch a lot of eyes with the schedules Bill Maloney's squad plays.

Bridgewater-Raynham features a pair of hard-throwing lefties who should cause problems for hitters throughout the regular season. Senior captains Pat Chalmers and Shane Holmes have more varsity experience than many of the guys they'll square off against this year - Chalmers was pitching on varsity at B-R as a sophomore and Holmes spent his freshman and sophomore years on the varsity squad at East Bridgewater before transferring to B-R as a junior. Chalmers took a no decision in his first start, but struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings. Holmes picked up the first win for the Trojans, a complete-game two-hit 12-strikeout performance against Milton.

Ben Larsen: Undoubtedly, Steve Moyers is the guy to follow. He has been unbelievable in his first three years as the ace of the East Longmeadow rotation and he’s hoping to reach the 30-win plateau for his career, which is no small feat in the short Massachusetts season. That said, Michael Walkowicz of Amherst has been the Cy Young in the early going. In two starts, he has a 17-strikeout, one-hitter and 12 Ks in a loss to Northampton.

Bruce Lerch: I find myself greatly intrigued by the seemingly rubber of Franklin southpaw Tyler Buck. As a junior, Buck tossed multiple gems during the Panthers run to the Div. 1 state championship game, including a 166-pitch effort to upset BC High in last year's D1 South semifinals. After starring for Franklin's Legion team over the summer, I'm interested to see how far the Panthers ace can take them once again.

4. WHAT WILL BE THE MOST COMPETITIVE LEAGUE IN GIRLS' LACROSSE THIS YEAR?

Brendan Hall: I'm going with the Dual County League. Four members of the 10-team league currently sit in our MIAA Top 25 poll, including No. 1 Lincoln-Sudbury. And we're not even including Acton-Boxborough, which began the season as our preseason No. 10 before dropping to 0-5. Talk about a misnomer -- the Colonials' five losses are to No. 1 L-S, No. 5 Needham, No. 6 Notre Dame (Hingham), No. 17 King Philip, and No. 23 Walpole. Also throw in unranked Wayland, which has one of the state's best goalies in Quinnipiac-bound senior Rachel Massicotte.

Let's now throw in the DCL's other three currently-ranked teams -- Concord-Carlisle, Weston and Westford -- and we're talking six teams that can be troublesome. I expect L-S to rise above it all, but the rest of the way down may or may not be a crap shoot.

Bruce Lerch: While most league's across the state in girls lacrosse are fairly top-heavy, I would say that top to bottom, the Middlesex League's large division may have the largest number of competitive teams as all five made the playoffs in 2011. Winchester is annually among the state's top programs and is among the favorites to challenge for the Div. 2 crown once again. Reading went 15-5 before running into state finalist Lincoln-Sudbury. Lexington is a perennial tourney team who, aside from last season, routinely rolls up 15-plus wins a year. Belmont also won 15 games in 2011, and Woburn qualified for the postseason as well. As of the time I am writing this, the five teams hold a combined record of 8-0-1 through the first two weeks of the season.

Ben Larsen: The Valley Wheel in Western Mass. is off to a strong start with no team worse than 2-0, including Agawam on top with four wins already. Perennial power Longmeadow and last year’s upstart Minnechaug are bound to contend with powerful Agawam in this loaded league but don’t count out East Longmeadow and South Hadley from at least making some noise.

5. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH SLAP HITTERS. WHO ARE THE ONES TO PAY ATTENTION TO?

Scott Barboza: I'm looking no further than Mansfield's Bri Chiusano. The Coastal Carolina signee is the most dynamic lead-off hitter in the state and, as she showed earlier this week against King Philip, she also has some pop in the bat while taking a full swing. You have to take pause and applaud anybody who can launch a home run off of Meghan Rico after all.

Bruce Lerch: Bri Chiusano of Mansfield, who showed Tuesday that she can do a bit more than slap by cranking a three-run homer off of King Philip ace and reigning Miss Softball Meghan Rico. A four-year player for the Hornets manning centerfield and batting at the top of the lineup, Chiusano makes life miserable for opposing pitchers with her quick hands and tremendous speed and has an uncanny ability to survey how the defense is playing her and place the ball accordingly. The senior was named to ESPN Boston's preseason All-State team and will play for Coastal Carolina next year.

Ben Larsen: Typically a speedy singles hitter who uses his speed to get on and wreak havoc on the basepaths, Westfield’s Billy Smith got into the power game Monday, blasting a three-run homer in the Bombers’ rout of Belchertown. Smith, who also served as the Westfield football team’s quarterback this past season, has started out slow but is undoubtedly a player to watch moving forward.

6. WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING UPSET OF THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THE SEASON?

Brendan Hall: My brethren on the Cape will call me Captain Hindsight with this one, but maybe Dennis-Yarmouth baseball is better than we've given them credit for after knocking off Plymouth North 8-2 on Wednesday. I think it was universally agreed that North, routinely one of the best hitting teams in Division 2, would be the favorite again in the South region even after losing key bats like Matt Walsh. But maybe D-Y should get more notice, with talented players like Matt Montalto, Matt Peterson and Miles Tuohy-Bedford. The Dolphins (2-1) got off to a hot start last season, including coach Paul Funk's 100th win, before coming back to Earth. Can they keep the hot start going this year?

Scott Barboza: If I told you I'd called Reading boys' lacrosse's overtime win over Westford Academy, I'd be lying. The Grey Ghosts entered this season with a lot of attention, particularly with the addition of Alex Eaton, in an already loaded Dual County League and the No. 6 ranking in our preseason Top 25 poll. Meanwhile, Reading was tough to read coming in because the Rockets lost some key cogs from last year's squad. What the Rockets did is prove that they should again challenge for the Middlesex League title.

Bruce Lerch: In boys lacrosse, certainly the most eye-opening result of the early season came when Melrose upset Lexington, 11-6. This is just the fourth year of the Red Raiders program, and in their first three years Melrose went a combined 9-44. Meanwhile, Lexington is an annual state championship and Middlesex League contender and reached the postseason in each of the three years since Melrose started its team. It was certainly a program defining victory for the Red Raiders.


WELLESLEY, Mass. – It was this time a year ago when Wellesley stormed into Billerica and ruined the Indians’ opener with a win.

On Thursday, it was the No. 12 Indians’ chance to stomp on the Raiders’ opening day festivities.

Senior attacks Ben Melaugh and Cam Slatton worked their chemistry throughout and worked together to give Billerica the game-winning goal. Melaugh set up Slatton with the a tie-breaking goal with a minute left in regulation for a 6-5 win over No. 3 Wellesley.

Melaugh (2 G, 2A) and Slatton (2 G, A) combined to tally seven of the Indians’ nine points on the afternoon while junior goaltender and UMass recruit D.J. Smith made it all stand up with 15 saves.

“Last year, they took away our first game, so we wanted to come back here and win it,” Smith said.

The game was largely decided by a couple of ground balls in Billerica’s favor in the final minutes.

Slatton’s game-winner was set in motion on a ground ball pick up in the defensive half by junior midfielder Sean Farmer. After the scoop, Farmer ran the ball into the offensive half, dished to Melaugh on the wing who then found Slatton out front. Slatton’s rip from 15 yards out found nothing but twine.

Another ground-ball win by Indians senior long-stick Nick DelMonaco in the final minute, along with some sloppy possession play from the Raiders’ attack, helped ice the victory for the Billerica (2-1).

“I think we generated 25 shots and I don’t think we generated 25 shots last year,” Wellesley head coach Rocky Batty said. “But you take shots, you’ve got to finish.”

SMITH IS SHARP


Smith’s play on Thursday drew high praise from Indians head coach Craig Flynn, who called it the “game of his career.” In addition, it was set against the backdrop of a matchup between two of the states top netminders, as Smith was opposed by fellow ESPN Boston All-Stater Connor Darcey.

“It was a huge matchup between basically the two top goaltenders in the state.”

At no point was Smith better than the third quarter, when he kicked, swatted and gobbled up six saves. Although the Raiders (0-1) possessed for the bulk of play in the quarter, Smith and the Billerica long poles held strong.

“Tommy [McLaughlin] and Brian LeClair, they played great at X covering them and they didn’t let them at the X and didn’t let get past the [goal line extended],” Smith said of the defensive group in front of him. “Danny [Lynch] played on the crease, he didn’t let them get any passes. They played great altogether our D-poles.”

CHEMISTRY EVIDENT


Batty thought his team won a small victory in limiting the Indians’ top scoring duo of Melaugh and Slatton to four goals.

It speaks volumes about the respect opposing coaches have for the pair, who both tallied 100-plus point seasons last year.

Of course, that was done in the shadow of ESPN Boston 2011 Mr. Lacrosse and current UMass attack Grant Whiteway. Now, it’s time for Melaugh and Slatton to shine.

“We’ve been playing ever since we were, what, maybe 8 year old, I don’t even know,” “It’s been a while though. We’ve known each other is and we’re able to find each other.”

MONKEY OFF THE BACK?
Always a colorful interview, Batty joked with reporters postgame that his team was, in fact, fallible.

Certainly, the Raiders entered the season with a boatload of attention as Division 2 favorites, grabbing the No. 3 spot in our preseason Top 25 poll along with a spot in the ESPNHS FAB 50.

While a loss isn’t the way the Raiders wanted to start their campaign, their head coach also admitted it might not be the worst thing in the world.

“We’ll be better for this in the long run,” Batty said.



LOWELL, Mass. -- You couldn’t draw it up any better.

Teetering on the brink of history, Billerica attack Grant Whiteway entered Friday night’s game with Andover just shy of 500 for his career.

After an eight-point outburst in a win against St. John’s Prep on Wednesday, he stood at 499 and the only question on everybody’s mind was when and how it was going to come.

It was the foremost thought of Grant’s father, Grant II, who paced the sideline, as he always does, in his duty as an assistant coach of the Indians. The game was the final in a full day of Merrimack Valley Conference lacrosse in Lowell and the Indians played under the lights of Cawley Stadium. There was a sizable crowd, which included grade school-aged players from the town youth league, which Grant II created. Most of the children had “500” painted on their cheeks with green paint.

It nearly came several minutes in when Whiteway whizzed one of wide of Andover goaltender Crosby Nicholson. The set play had Whiteway, who typically fires off shots in excess of 90 miles per hour, with a clean look at the cage from 20 yards out, only to rip it wide right.

It finally came four and a half minutes in.

Of course, it was a goal.

“It was relief to get it over with,” Whiteway said after Billerica’s 12-2 win.

With the goal, Whiteway became the sixth high school player in the nation to have reached the 500-point plateau. He joins North Andover’s Jimmy Connolly and Duxbury’s Max Quinzani as the third player from Massachusetts to accomplish the feat.

They’re exclusive company with whom Whiteway is familiar.

“He was a ball boy for Jimmy Connolly and Max Quinzani,” the elder Whiteway said, alluding to the travel team he coached. “He always saw how hard those guys worked off the field.”

Whiteway’s milestone is as much a credit to his family’s roots in the game. Grant II played at UMass-Lowell before he started Billerica’s youth league. Grant III's oldest sister, Jamie, went on to play at UMass-Amherst (where he will go on to play next year) before finishing her career at Merrimack. His middle sister, Brittany, plays at Southern New Hampshire. His youngest sister, Lindsay, is a sophomore at Billerica and a budding star of the girls’ lacrosse team.

It all traces back to the Whiteway’s front yard, where you can often find the siblings throwing the ball around with dad.

“We make sure we’re in the front yard, so the dogs don’t bite us,” Grant II said, adding the family’s English bulldog has a taste for lacrosse balls.

Friday night went about as well as could be scripted.

With the convincing win, the third-ranked Indians claimed another MVC Large division title. Whiteway finished the night with four goals and an assist to raise his career total to 504. Junior attacks Ben Melaugh and Cam Slatton each had four-point games. D.J. Smith was again strong in the cage and Billerica head coach Craig Flynn noted the performances of defenders Ian Abrahamson, Mike Curley and Tommy McLaughlin.

When Whiteway tallied No. 500, the game was stopped and Whiteway was presented a commemorative plaque by Flynn and his father. His teammates flanked him for a photo as the crowd cheered.

“He was born to play Billerica lacrosse,” Flynn said of Whiteway. “He’s the most prolific player in the state. What he did reaching that 500-point milestone, it’s not only great for him, but it’s great for the whole community of Billerica, too. It’s such a big thing.

“There are only three guys in the state who have reached 500 points and now he’s up on the pedestal with those guys.”

And the timing couldn’t have been better.

“I wanted to try to do it last game [against Prep], but it didn’t happen,” the junior Whiteway said. “It was good to do it tonight, we had more people to see it here.”

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