While baseball and softball seem stuck in the mud waiting for fields to dry out, the boys' lacrosse season is already in full swing. The Globe's Maggie Cassidy checks in today with a season overview focusing on Duxbury's quest to remain a Massachusetts juggernaut.
As we gear up for another exciting season, here's our take on the preseason top 20, with thoughts on each team:
1. Duxbury -- Until someone in the Bay State beats them, the Green Dragons are entrenched here, especially given how motivated they are to not give up their perch.
2. Xaverian -- The Hawks graduated 15 players... and you can hardly tell. Brendan Grant is a force up front and Ryan Abely is going to win a lot of possessions in the faceoff circle, but what struck me watching the X-Men against St. John's of Shrewsbury last week is how well the defense played after a lackluster first quarter.
3. Billerica -- The Indians will miss Keith Merluzzo on attack (he led the team in points each of the last three seasons), but I think they'll miss faceoff man Gary McKay even more. Something tells me assistant Nolan Godfrey is working to develop a new crop of draw-winners.
4. Andover -- Imagine how good Cohasset would be if Brendan Hughes still lived in town. Instead, he's helping Andover continue to build a power of a program. The Warriors advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals before falling to Xaverian.
5. BC High -- Netminder David Barton is as good as advertised (ask Marshfield). The mere idea that the Eagles had both Barton and All-Scholastic John Lenehan sharing duties last year seems unfair to opposing offenses.
6. St. John's Prep -- Returning much of its lineup from last season (only two players graduated), the Eagles are a step ahead of rivals Xaverian and BC High in terms of defining roles and building chemistry. We're waiting to see how that translates on the field.
7. Cohasset -- Round 1 of the Cohasset-Scituate rivalry goes to the Skippers. Can't shake the feeling that we'll see at least one more round in June (and possibly a Round 2 during the Chowda Cup later this month).
8. Medfield -- A pair of quality challenges from Tri-Valley League rivals Hopkinton and Dover-Sherborn seem to have helped the Warriors iron out some early season wrinkles. An 11-4 thumping of Wellesley suggests Medfield has already improved since the start of the year.
9. Marshfield -- Coach Rick Peterson is excited about this year's squad and with good reason. The Rams showed some nice resiliency to battle back against a rigid BC High defense and send Saturday's game into the final frame tied. Marshfield will be a postseason contender if it continues to develop into June.
10. Scituate -- A rocky start for the Sailors, including a 14-6 drubbing at the hands of Barnstable. We'll chalk it up to long seasons for both the hockey players and the hoopsters. Hanging with Cohasset on Sunday shows this team is in it for the long run and will be ready for the big games.
11. Dover-Sherborn -- The Raiders had a chance to topple a TVL giant, but fell to Medfield in double overtime last week. The Raiders get another chance on May 2, but their biggest success could come in the Division 3 tournament where they'll be well-equipped to compete come playoff time.
12. Lexington -- The Minutemen endured an unceremonious first-round exit in last year's Division 1 tournament, but they remain the team to beat in the Middlesex League.
13. King Philip -- The addition of sniper Matt Schairer (formerly of Medfield) could make the Warriors the Hockomock favorite and a Division 2 contender. KP finished 10-8 last year and was bounced in the preliminary round by Falmouth.
14. Westford Academy -- The Grey Ghosts really came on strong last year, but drew an unfortunate quarterfinal opponent in Xaverian. After his exploits in the net during the hockey season, it's a bit odd to see Curtis Serafini playing up front in the spring, but he's just as good at scoring as he is at preventing opposing hockey teams from doing the same thing.
15. Arlington -- Okay, the season is young, but looks who's sitting atop the LaxPower computer rankings this morning. The Spy Ponders boast quality wins over Concord-Carlisle and Wayland, and have the potential for a big start before competition ramps up in May.
16. Malden Catholic -- The Lancers are 4-0 with wins over teams with a combined record of 1-9. We'll find out a lot more about this squad Tuesday when they meet Xaverian.
17. Lincoln-Sudbury -- By far the biggest disappointment of the 2007 season after laboring through a 9-10 campaign and missing the playoffs. The Warriors' schedule does them no favors, as usual, but we think they rebound this spring.
18. Hingham -- Can success on the ice translate to the sod in the spring? The Harbormen probably aren't ready to challenge Duxbury for the Patriot League crown, but could give Scituate a run for No. 2 if the Sailors continue to struggle.
19. Barnstable -- The Raiders bounced back from a tough one-goal loss to Hingham to thrash Scituate. Remember that Barnstable won 15 games a year ago and ousted Marshfield in the Division 1 tourney before running into Xaverian.
20. Walpole -- The Rebels came on strong last season and surged to the Division 2 quarterfinals before falling to Wayland by a goal. Off to a 2-0 start, Walpole can rack up some wins before its schedule ramps up.
Keep an eye on:
Acton-Boxboro -- Took BC High to overtime, which suggests there's some nice talent here. The Colonials endured a 10-10 campaign last spring before falling to Chelmsford in the preliminary round of the Division 1 tournament.
Catholic Memorial -- No shame losing to Cohasset and the Knights rebounded with a solid win over Waltham. But that Catholic Conference schedule is mighty daunting.
Falmouth -- While Marshfield steals those Atlantic Coast League headlines, Falmouth has already racked up five wins, including triumphs over league foes Sandwich and Plymouth (two teams it finished behind in last year's league standings).
Lowell -- A nice 3-0 start, but against teams with a combined 0-5 mark. Wednesday's trip to Billerica will tell us more about the Raiders.
Mansfield -- The Hornets have already equaled their regular-season loss total from a year ago in enduring two early season losses. The bright side: Mansfield was competitive against both Scituate (an 11-10 loss) and King Philip (a 6-4 loss). Maybe the Hornets just want to fly under the radar like last year.
Needham -- Much like Bay State Conference rival Walpole, the Rockets opened the season with two early wins, but their schedule doesn't get tough until later this month.
North Andover -- The Scarlet Knights seem to be the team to beat in the Cape Ann League once again and are off to a 2-0 start.
Reading -- All that winter success seems to be carrying over the spring (lacrosse, softball, and track should all do quite well for the Rockets). On the lax field, Reading is off to a 3-0 start, including a nice win over Winchester. A matchup with Lexington awaits Friday.
Shawsheen -- No surprise, the Rams are the brass of the Mass. Technical League.
Swampscott -- The Big Blue have jumped out to a 3-0 start and an overtime win over Salem suggests they are the team to beat in the Northeastern South.
Wellesley -- Wouldn't seem right to have a preseason top 20 without the Raiders. They struggled a bit with Norwood and fell to Medfield, but we think first-year coach Rocky Batty will keep this team competitive in a rigid Bay State Conference. Remember, this team advanced to the Eastern Mass. Division 2 semifinals a year ago before falling to Medfield.
Wayland -- The Warriors have some big shoes to fill from graduation and -- if A-B and L-S return to form -- defending that first Dual County League title in school history will be no easy feat.
Finally, here's our preseason ranking of the top five teams by division. We'll try to update these weekly during the regular season:
5. BC High
2. King Philip
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.