Massachusetts Division 1 Boys Poll
A year ago, pre-season No. 1 Malden Catholic (16-6-3) closed on a 13-game winning streak and captured a third consecutive 1A championship that seemed unlikely when the Lancers sat a game under .500 in mid-January. There should be no such struggles this winter.
Seven veteran forwards return to a high-octane group powered by UNH commit Ara Nazarian (26-20-46), a junior, and UMass-Lowell bound Tyler Sifferlin (14-19-33), a senior. Meanwhile, senior Nick Rolli and juniors John McLean and Will Lawrence all return on the back line. If this club remains focused and committed, the seniors should exit with a fourth 1A crown as a class.
No. 2 Springfield Cathedral (16-3-5) is driven by junior Holy Cross commit Peter Crinella (22-15-37) and sophomore John Leonard (15-8-23), who’s headed to UMass. Three-year starting senior goalie John Liquori stabilizes the back end and the Panthers unveiled an impressive crop of freshmen at The Garrett Reagan Summit.
Eighteen players return for No. 3 Catholic Memorial (13-8-2), which returned to 1A play last season after an absence of several seasons and reached the semifinals. When HOF coach Bill Hanson has that much experience at his disposal, powerhouse teams usually emerge. Captains Aaron Clancy and Kevin Bletzer lead the way.
No. 4 Austin Prep (16-2-6) advanced to its first 1A title game last winter. With numerous veterans returning in key roles, two straight is not out of the question. Junior goalie Elijah Harris (1.74 gaa), BU-bound junior captain and forward Bobo Carpenter (17-15-32) and senior captain and defenseman Andrew Cross are the top returnees.
To the surprise of no one, No. 5 B.C. High (15-5-3) is the third Catholic Conference club to crack the Top 5. The Eagles return 18 forwards and defensemen with a year or more of varsity experience. Junior forward Pat Kramer (15-13-28) and highly recruited sophomore defenseman Ryan Shea are players to pay attention to.
No. 6 Winchester (16-6-3) of the Middlesex League’s Liberty Division holds the distinction as the top public school in the poll. The Sachems return their top five scorers from last year’s Division 1 finalist, including league MVP Nolan Redler (53 points) and senior Brendan Greene (25 goals).
No. 7 Central Catholic (14-7-3) is the consensus pick among league coaches to claim the Merrimack Valley/Dual County Large crown. The Raiders feature senior captain and forward Lloyd Hayes and senior goalie Colin Soucy, among the division’s top players at their respective positions.
No. 8 Arlington Catholic (11-7-4) figures to push for the Catholic Central Large crown. Senior John Richard (1.47 gaa) anchors the Cougars’ defense and there is considerable depth at forward.
No. 9 Marshfield (20-7-1) features junior center Pat Shea (11-25-36), a recent UMaine commit, as the leader of a deep forward group. Senior goalie Connor Lemieux takes over full-time after winning 10 of 12 starts last year.
No. 10 Burlington (14-6-5) of the Middlesex League’s Freedom Division has claimed consecutive Division 1 championships. The Red Devils will lean heavily on an experienced corps of defensemen.
No. 11 Archbishop Williams (12-5-3) gives the Catholic Central Large three poll representatives. The Bishops are essentially intact after earning a 1A play-in game last year.
No. 12 Reading (16-3-5) of the Middlesex Liberty should be stout on defense, led by junior defenseman Mike Seibold and senior goalie Ian Lapham.
Don’t sleep on No. 13 Melrose (12-8-4) of the Middlesex Freedom. All but four players return for coach Vin Mirasolo, who got things back on track in one season.
No. 14 Braintree (17-5-1) projects as the top team out of the Bay State’s Carey Division. Coach Dave Fasano has 10 three- and four-year varsity regulars.
No. 15 Xaverian (9-8-5) is the fourth Catholic Conference poll entry. Senior Tony Marini and junior Tim Sweeney combined for 18 goals and 59 points last year.
No. 16 Milton (9-8-6) returns 18 players poised to make a move in the Bay State Herget.
No. 17 Duxbury (14-4-5) has 15 players back as it seeks a third straight Patriot League crown.
No. 18 Framingham (14-8-1) graduated only four and will push for Bay State Carey supremacy.
No. 19 Hingham (13-7-2), the division’s lone Independent, will lean heavily on its veteran defense.
No. 20 Waltham (13-9-2) projects as the top challenger to Central Catholic in the MVC/DCL 1.