Massachusetts Boys D1 Top 20
From the shuffling of 14 teams up and down between Divisions 1 and 2 to the Division 1A Tournament being placed on hiatus and the elimination of the four Sectional tournaments, MIAA realignment has changed the landscape of competition this winter.
That doesn’t mean we don’t know where to start our pre-season Top 20 poll.
Defense again projects as a strength for No. 1 Independent Hingham (14-1-0), which outscored opponents, 64-18, last season. Only seven players graduated, giving long-time coach Tony Messina plenty to work with.
As usual, No. 2 Pope Francis (9-0-0) will play the state’s toughest schedule and kicked off its season this weekend with three games against prep school competition at the Albany Academy Tournament. The Cardinals outscored opponents by a mind-numbing 63-9 margin a season ago in MIAA play. Several top players have moved on, but plenty of talent still remains.
No. 3 Xaverian (7-3-2), the reigning Catholic Conference champion, is loaded as 16 veterans return for 21-year coach Dave Spinale, including Babson commit Nolan Dion on defense.
No. 4 Catholic Memorial (7-5-1) of the Catholic Conference returns a nearly intact roster, including one of the state’s top netminders in Dom Walecka, for coach Larry Rooney.
No. 5 BC High (5-5-0) looks to bounce back in the Catholic Conference behind a mesh of seasoned returnees and talented newcomers.
No. 6 Braintree (8-1-2) of the Bay State Herget will field its usual deep squad led by coach Dave Fasano. The Wamps had over 90 players at the first day of tryouts.
No. 7 Arlington (6-5-1) of the Middlesex Liberty returns all but a handful of players from a season ago, more than enough for long-time coach John Messuri to work with.
No. 8 St. John’s Prep (3-3-4) returns a small veteran core in the Catholic Conference.
No. 9 Austin Prep (8-2-3) of the Catholic Central Large is balanced across the board with Bill Pappas welcoming back 16 players.
No. 10 Waltham (6-0-3) of the MVC/DCL returns nearly an intact roster as the Hawks look to take flight under long-time coach John Maguire.
No. 11 Marshfield (9-4-2) returns a large veteran contingent under the direction of veteran Dan Connolly as it enters its first full season in the Patriot League.
Improved scoring will be crucial for No. 12 Central Catholic (8-1-1) of the MVC/DCL 1.
No. 13 Reading (6-3-2) of the Middlesex Liberty graduated nine. Improved offensive output will be a key for coach Mark Doherty’s Rockets.
No. 14 St. Mary’s Lynn (6-6-2) will be in the Catholic Central League dogfight all winter. The Spartans opened their season Saturday with a 5-2 win over Bridgewater-Raynham.
No. 15 Winchester (7-3-2) of the Middlesex Liberty must find a replacement for a four-year starter between the pipes.
Completing the poll are: No. 16 Archbishop Williams (12-1-3) of the Catholic Central Large; No. 17 Malden Catholic (3-7-2) of the Catholic Conference; No. 18 King Philip (9-1-0) of the Hockomock League; No. 19 Natick (6-4-2) of the Bay State Carey; and No. 20 Weymouth (8-4-1) of the Bay State Herget.