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In boys lacrosse, can anyone stop Duxbury?

Posted by Metro Desk  April 7, 2012 05:03 PM

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Duxbury's Kane Haffey celebrated a goal against St. John's Prep in boys high school state lacrosse championships last June. Duxbury is primed for another state title run. (Adam Hunger / File photo for the Boston Globe)

Early season rankings (or preseason rankings, still, for some teams) are always difficult to craft considering we haven’t seen a lot of these teams in action yet, and most of the coaches don’t even know what they’re squad is going to give them.

But at least at the very top of the Boston Globe boys lacrosse Top 20, the choice was easy.

There’s little doubt around Massachusetts that Duxbury is the clear No. 1. Boasting a slew of Division 1 recruits (12, to be exact) and eight of the last 10 state championship trophies, the Dragons have gained national attention as one of the premier teams in the country. But that doesn’t mean no one else has a chance.

Of the other “Big Four” teams – Lincoln-Sudbury, St. John’s Prep and Billerica – No. 2 L-S appears most primed to make a run. The Warriors had an up-and-down season last year filled with injuries, but a lot of young players earned some valuable experience and coach Brian Vona will have a ton of talent to work with.

No. 6 St. John’s Prep is very raw, but talented, and John Roy always seems to have his team in top form by tournament time, and that’s when it counts.

No. 7 Billerica, meanwhile, could really sneak up on people. The Indians are being discounted after the graduation of Grant Whiteway, but Cam Slatton and Ben Melaugh have formed a dangerous 1-2 punch at the attack, on perfect display during a 6-5 win over Wellesley on Thursday when the two combined for four goals and three assists. And with goalie DJ Smith between the pipes, the typical hard-nosed Billerica defense could give any team trouble.

At No. 3, Needham is full of promise. They’ve gained national attention in some rankings and David Wainwright returns 10 seniors, mostly on the defensive side. But with the graduation of All-American Will Stenberg, sophomore UMass-Amherst commit Mike Panepinto was expected to play a huge role, and he suffered a broken collar bone in the preseason that could keep him out all year. His brother, Nico, is a scoring threat, though, and while Needham could be one of the first teams to fall from the top-five, don’t count them out. The Rockets might just need some time to peak.

No. 5 Wellesley is loaded with talent, including All-American goalie Connor Darcey, but there’s a lot of football players on that roster and their over-aggressive style could haunt them with too many man-down situations. If the offense can score, this team could be as good as it gets.

No. 4 seems like a good spot for Medfield, which lost its coach and starting goalie, among others, but remains very deep as usual. It’s all about going back to basics for the Warriors, and if John Isaf and Mike Douglas can get their players to buy in, a three-peat is possible.

No. 14 Acton-Boxboro has a chance to really surprise people this year. The Colonials are athletic, and their schedule is tough, so if they can stay healthy and get better as the season goes on, they should be dangerous.

At the bottom of the list, Newton North is an intriguing team. Perhaps not a squad with the most talent, but there’s some serious size on that defense, and long-time head coach Bussy Adam has 14 returning players. A lot rides on junior goalie John Hogan.

Remember, there’s a lot of season to be played, and this list could look entirely different in a few weeks. See the full Globe boys lacrosse Top 20.

Qualms, comments, story ideas or anything else? Email me at jasonmastrodonato@yahoo.com

Last five out (in alphabetical order): Andover, Cohasset, Foxborough, Lexington, Walpole

@JMastrodonato


Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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