Yoon S. Byun / Globe Staff
Thanks to a change in the playoff seeding format, the girls’ lacrosse scene in Massachusetts is about to get even more exciting.
The girls will now use the same formula for awarding postseason positioning that the boys use. Teams will be rewarded for a strong schedule in addition to wins and losses as opposed to just the school’s record.
Because of this, top teams scheduled other strong competitors, creating some big games. For example, Winchester, a Division 2 school, will take on Division 1 powers Needham, Framingham, and Westwood.
“We’re constantly challenging ourselves,” said Winchester coach Sue Ontso. “We can’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss because we have another tough opponent coming up. Dealing with that kind of pressure prepares you for the state tournament.’’
In Division 1, the discussion must start with Westwood. The Wolverines have won two straight Division 1 championships and three out of the last five.
They return 2009 All-Scholastic senior midfielder Kelly Rich who put up 105 goals and 172 points last season. She will be joined by current teammates Sarah Biron and Kerri Harrington at Northwestern next year.
One of the teams vying to knock off Westwood is Division 1 North champion Framingham. Last season the Flyers lost to Westwood in the EMass final, and are the only team other than the Wolverines since 2004 to be crowned state champions, winning in 2006 and 2007.
The Flyers return seven seniors, including 2009 All-Scholastics Moira Barry (Boston College-bound) and Tanner Guarino (UMass Amherst), and the other tri-captain Kelly Cohen (Tufts).
‘‘We’ve won six North sectionals in a row. We’re very eager to get back into a competitive schedule,’’ coach Stacey Freda said. ‘‘We have a versatile group of captains who cover all parts of the field.’’
Framingham and Westwood duel each year for the right to participate in the state tournament championship game, but Freda doesn’t want her team getting ahead of itself.
‘‘We’re looking at our first game [a 16-3 victory over Newton North],’’ she said. ‘‘We’ve got a long road until we get to that point.’’
A few other schools will also figure to be in the mix. Longmeadow has played in the state championship game every year for the past seven seasons, winning in 2004. Wellesley, who has lost in the Division I South tournament to Westwood the past two years, returns All-Scholastic Blake Dietrick. As a sophomore last season Dietrick scored 91 goals and tallied 141 points.
In Division 2, Norwell has been the top dog. The Clippers have played in four of the previous five state championship games, winning three times. Returning is the scoring duo of Kate MacDonald (93 goals, 30 assists), and All-Scholastic Kara O’Connell (63 goals, 35 assists).
‘‘They’ve held their whole team together,’’ said Duxbury coach Sue Paull. ‘‘They’ve got a good youth program. They are always competitive.’’
Paull and the Green Dragons are very familiar with Norwell. The two teams have met in the either the semi-finals or the finals of the Division 2 South playoffs in each of the past three years, Norwell winning twice.
‘‘Last year we beat Norwell in the regular season 18-13 but lost in the semifinals 18-16,’’ Paull said. ‘‘We go back and forth with Norwell. That game is kind of the deciding factor for who will play in the state championship.’’
Whoever wins that matchup traditionally has to go through Winchester to claim the state title. From 2005 through 2008 Winchester represented the North in the state championship game.
The Sachems return leading scorer Lauren Sullivan, who will head to Notre Dame after her high-school career, but Ontso will look for other options to step up.
“You can get by in this game with one or two threats,” she said. ‘‘We’re looking to have five or six scoring threats on the field at a time.”
North Andover should be competitive again as they attempt to defend their North title. Another team that could make some noise is Sandwich, who moves from Division 1 — where the Blue Knights lost to Westwood in the quarterfinals of the Division 1 South tournament — to Division 2 this season.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.