Central-Western Mass. boys lacrosse pairings set; Greylock earns top seed in D-III
WEST SPRINGFIELD -- Heading into his first year as Mount Greylock boys lacrosse coach, Brandon Asplundh said that a return trip to the postseason was a goal his team set out to achieve.
Greylock's 17-2 record easily qualified them for Central-Western Mass., and on Friday at the MIAA seeding meeting, the Mounties earned a No. 1 seed in the Division III tournament.
"We're pleased to have the No. 1 seed," Asplundh said. "We think it's going to be a huge advantage, and we need to use it to our advantage."
The No. 1 seed earns Greylock a bye in the opening round of the tournament. The Mounties await winner of No. 8 St. Bernard's and No. 9 Wahconah on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Lee earned a No. 7 seed and will travel to No. 2 Grafton on Friday at 7 p.m.
In Division II, No. 15 Pittsfield will face No. 18 Chicopee Comp in an opening round play-in game Sunday at 4 p.m. at Kirvin Park. PHS coach Scott Aitken admitted he doesn't know much about Comp (8-8), but is nevertheless thrilled to have a home game to begin the postseason. The winner gets No. 2 seed St. John's on Wednesday.
"We pulled a home game. I'm excited for a home game," Aitken said. "That's what we talked about at practice today, to be really excited to play at home. I'm hoping they're pretty pumped."
Aitken thinks his Generals are moving the ball well and creating opportunities for the offense, which has been tested the last three weeks. Senior Jack Salatino (attack) and Andy Wright (midfield) are out with concussions, and are unlikely to return for the postseason.
"So far, we've had Dante Ortega [filling in] well with Kevin Quinto and David Charland," Aitken said. "Charland and Quinto are freshmen.
"We're creating good opportunities for our offense. Today [in practice], the defense did a great job playing in position, which is what we're trying to work on."
Greylock's impressive regular-season resume was an asset both in the Laxpower.com rankings and the Walker system. However, because the Western Mass. version of the Walker system differs from the Central Mass. version, there was some dispute as to whether Greylock would be No. 1 in the coaches' poll as well.
Despite Greylock's 6-1 record against tournament teams and Grafton's 5-7 record against tournament teams, ultimately the coaches voted that Grafton was No. 1 in D-III. The vote, though, did not alter Greylock's position as the top seed.
"It's really difficult to compare the Western Mass. and the Central Mass. teams, especially because there are not common opponents." Asplundh said. "I totally understand where the Central Mass. teams are coming, ranking Grafton over us in the coaches' poll. So I'm pleased with how everything went."
Even though there was a disagreement on Greylock's merits as a No. 1 seed, MIAA Central/Western Division II-III tournament director Fran Whitten said there is no doubt that Western Mass. teams play a competitive brand of lacrosse.
"Western Mass. has a very good reputation in lacrosse. They're always placing teams in the final," he said. "I don't think anyone underestimates the quality of Western Mass. [lacrosse]."
Lee coach Mike Snyder can spread out the offense, which should be an asset in the Wildcats' test at Grafton. Adam Finnegan, Cav Wolski, Emerson Wolski, Jake Parkinson and Connor Parkinson are all capable of scoring, which can stretch out a defense.
"They all could have big games," Snyder said. "At this point, they're definitely all coming to play. That's where some teams struggle; they only have one or two kids who can really play."
In the net, goalie Cam Forest controls the Lee backfield.
"He's pretty much the quarterback of the defense," Snyder said. "His experience definitely helps new guys or middies coming down to play defense."
After achieving one of his team's preseason goals, Asplundh said it's not time to be satisfied.
"Winning a Western Mass. title is definitely a goal of ours," he said. "We will be absolutely thrilled if we obtain it, but at the same time we need to not be thrilled and move on to our next goal, and that's a state championship."
To get there, they may have to go through at least one Berkshire County team in Wahconah.
Greylock's 2-0 record against Wahconah with a 37-3 victory margin would set up a favorable second-round game for the Mounties, but Asplundh said he doesn't want to focus on future matchups.
"We wouldn't predict any outcome in either tournament," he said. "But we think if we play as well as we're capable of, both of those titles are out there and they could be a realistic possibility."
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Central-Western Mass. Division II boys
No. 18 Chicopee Comp (8-8) at No. 15 Pittsfield (12-5), 3 p.m. Sunday, Kirvin Park
No. 17 Tantasqua (10-10) at No. 16 Northampton (7-13), 4 p.m. Sunday
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Central-Western Mass. Division III boys
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