NHIAA Boys' Lacrosse Preview: Traditional powers expected to be near the top again
Will the reigns continue in the NHIAA boys' lacrosse ranks in 2014?
The season opens Monday and many of the top teams from last season are expected to be right in the thick of it once again.
Last season, two of the three boys' divisions were won by repeat champions.
In the Division I boys' final, Bishop Guertin won its fourth consecutive title by knocking off the No. 1 seeded Astros of Pinkerton Academy of Derry 13-6.
In Division II, Bedford won its second in a row by routing Goffstown 16-2 in the final. The Division III title went to Derryfield School of Manchester, a 10-5 winner over Hopkinton.
Pinkerton and Bishop Guertin are once again expected to the teams to beat, with Hanover and Exeter right there with them.
The Astros return a strong team led by senior midfielder and All-America Jake Lisauskas and junior attack Todd Billetter.
"Our expectations are to compete for a championship," said Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly. "This team has a high lacrosse IQ and solid skills. Defense, goaltending, faceoffs and attack will carry the team."
Guertin returns a strong team as well with senior midfielder Dom St. Laurent, senior attacker Connor Donahue and senior midfielder John Miller.
In Division II, Bedford rolled through the regular season undefeated at 18-0 and didn't let up at all in the playoffs, steamrolling everyone.
That run to a second straight title had head coach Matt Guerard thinking his team might be moved to Division I (a move Guerard said he would welcome), but that did not come to pass which means the Bulldogs are once again the team to beat.
Three senior first team All-State selections lead the way for Bedford: goalie Matt Howe, midfielder Grant Mello and attacker Dan Colella.
The rest of Division II appears wide open. It was a very tight race last season with five teams finishing with double-digit wins and the other three schools close behind.
Bow has a strong team coming back with All-State senior attackers Matthew Sanford and Devin Calkins. Runner-up Goffstown also returns two All-State first team players in Jacob Ollila (defense) and Brad Chapdelaine (midfield).
In the Division III ranks, Derryfield should put up a strong title defense thanks to All-State first teamers Jon Lencki (junior defender) and Griffin Phaneuf (senior attack) and five second-teamers such as Tyler Zorn (senior midfield) and Grant Alenson (senior attack).
Runner-up Hopkinton graduated two good players in Bennett Mosseau and Henry Merrow, but return two other All-Staters in Matt French (senior goalie) and James McCluskey (junior defense).
Hollis/Brookline finished third last season and could be poised to make another run with All-State selections Ryan Papineau (senior attack) and Sam Whitaker (senior midfield) back.
Another strong team from last season, Plymouth is also expected to make some noise with leaders Kyle Reisert (senior midfield) and Jared Kuehl (senior midfield).