Massachusetts Boys Division 1 Poll
|2||St. John's Prep||4||17||3||4|
Defense paid dividends for No. 1 Malden Catholic this season. That was readily apparent in the Division 1A Tournament as the Lancers yielded a mere four goals in five games, becoming the tournament’s second five-time winner with a 2-1 OT win against 2015 champion St. John’s Prep.
Playing one of, if not the toughest schedule in the state, the Catholic Conference co-champion Lancers yielded just 30 goals in 25 games. Ten seniors graduate but there is proven quality among the underclassmen eligible to return. Whether they do remains to be seen.
No. 2 St. John’s Prep extended its repeat bid into extra time before falling to MC, bringing to an end a remarkable two-year stretch. The Eagles lose 14 to graduation, including eight of their top nine forwards and stellar goalie Kyle Martin. Next year’s club will have a decidedly different look as coach Kris Hanson will lean heavily on five seasoned defensemen anticipated to return.
An unbeaten regular season did not yield the type of post-season success No. 3 B.C. High hoped for. The Catholic Conference co-champions were pushed to three games in the 1A quarterfinals then bowed to SJP in the semis. The division’s highest-scoring team (111 goals) loses a portion of that firepower to graduation. However, several underclassmen had breakout years so, on paper, the future seems bright.
No. 4 Pope Francis couldn’t clear the 1A semifinal hurdle, bowing to the eventual champion for the third straight year. Only five seniors will graduate. The Cardinals’ premier performers in all phases were underclassmen. Whether they return, or take their talents to the Junior or Prep ranks, will go a long way toward how next season shakes out.
No. 5 Austin Prep fashioned a strong season on grit, attention to detail and stout defense. However, the lack of consistent offensive production from their forwards caught up with the Cougars in the 1A quarterfinal series loss to MC. However, with all but three players eligible to return next season, you can anticipate the Catholic Central Large co-champs to be back in the mix a year from now.
No. 6 Central Catholic upset No. 14 Reading in a play-in game, then pushed B.C. High to three games in the 1A quarterfinals. Several factors played into the Raiders not having their full complement of players available at various times during the years. Eight players graduate but Central’s prime operatives were all underclassmen. Whether they all return is a very big question.
No. 7 Franklin claimed a Division One State title in its third D1 campaign – one year after graduating 21 seniors from 2015’s 1A quarterfinalist. Thirteen seniors made the most of their shot this winter. A fair number of key players figure to return next season. And, if we’ve learned anything these past two years, it’s to not question the depth of this program, reaching down into the youth ranks.
No. 8 St. Mary’s of Lynn claimed the North Sectional title, bowed to Franklin in the State final in OT, 4-3, and wound up as the division’s only 20-win team after being overlooked for the 1A. On paper, the Catholic Central Large co-champion Spartans will return one of the division’s deepest teams. What reality looks like in December is anybody’s guess.
No. 9 Burlington, the Middlesex League’s Freedom Division champion, met its match in the 1A quarterfinals against St. John’s. Seven players graduate and will take with them a fair chunk of the Red Devils’ offensive production. Underclassmen who excelled in a support role this year will have to take the next step.
Back in December, veteran coach Dan Shine said he liked the chemistry of his re-made team. No. 10 Arlington Catholic single-handedly wiped out the Middlesex Liberty Division in post-season, taking out No. 20 Woburn, Reading and No. 16 Winchester before falling to St. Mary’s in the Sectional final. Seventeen players could return.