Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that lacrosse is growing in Central Mass. is people can no longer predict who will be in the championship game at the end of the year.
In the past on the boys’ side, you could pretty much pencil in Algonquin or St. John’s as the favorites, and perhaps a Shrewsbury or a Westboro. Although the season isn’t even a week old, that may no longer be the case.
Just look at today, as Nashoba dealt Algonquin a 6-4 win. The Chieftains got on top early and hung on. There were 10 goals scored by 10 different players, which just shows how deep each team is – and also how there may not be a dominant scorer to rely on, either. Algonquin has been led by a different face every night and have some strong players like Joe Ackil, Connor Cahill and Brian Perreault to get the job done.
St. John’s raised some eyebrows by jettisoning coach Rob Vigeant in the offseason – and while I think new coach Terry Leary will do a good job, I just can’t see the change being a good one for the Pioneers. Vigeant had the Pioneers in contention every season and consistently produced All-American level talent like Colin O’Rourke. The Pioneers have struggled out of the gate with a tough schedule, losing to Malden Catholic and Xaverian, but beating St. Bernard’s, 13-2, as Jeff Desko scored five goals.
One of the most interesting teams to watch this year will be Groton-Dunstable. Primarily because of two words: Dan Eipp. I remember during the football season hearing about the Crusaders getting a transfer student from Syracuse – the premeir lacrosse hotbed – that will step in and immediately be one of the best players in Central Mass. Eipp didn’t disappoint, with four goals and three assists in the opener against Shrewsbury.
I think teams like Grafton with Dan Rotatori and Mike Bane and Bromfield with Dylan Gatto will win some big games, while Northbridge and John Perro and Andrew Guy is always dangerous. St. Peter-Marian should do well with Dan Zenevitch, Joe Michalowski and Jimmy Germain. It’s early, but it looks like there could be quite a few contenders for this year’s title.
Thanks to the lacrosse feeder programs in area towns flourishing, I think you’ll see marked improvement with programs like Littleton, Leominster, Nipmuc and Marlboro. That makes it for a much more interesting ride to the Central Mass. title.