By Gianna Addario Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — Regular season hard work pays off come playoff time as Masconomet drew the No. 1 seed overall in the Division 1 North state tournament.
The Cape Ann League Large champions aren’t taking their top seed spot for granted and as far as the Chieftains are concerned, their undefeated record (16-0-2) is wiped clean. In the playoffs, they will be starting from scratch.
“Going in we know that the brackets reflect records, but the winners reflect the intangibles,” said head coach Dave Mitchell who guided last year’s team to state finals in a tight loss to Ludlow.
The boys are hoping to get back there, but are reminded that last year’s loss is to be left in the past — this is an entirely new season, and team for that matter.
“We really made an effort to leave last year’s accomplishments behind us,” added Mitchell. “We’re looking at a whole new set of challenges and put together a new group of seniors.”
The Chieftains will begin defense of their North title as they host the winner of the Cambridge/Chelmsford matchup on Sunday at 1 p.m.
With a combined 14 shutouts between keepers Derek Grammer and John Black, Masco has outscored its opponents 60-4. In the final five games of the regular season, Grammer and Black didn’t give up a single goal.
It’s still undecided who will start in goal in the first round. Grammer was nearly unbeatable in last year’s playoffs and allowed a mere four goals in six postseason contests.
“It all depends on who we face, because each keeper has a certain set of skills,” said Mitchell. “We’re hoping to get a good look at Cambridge and Chelmsford and then we’ll evaluate the situation.”
Led by senior captain and CAL Player of the Year, Chip Sherman, the Chieftains have a well-balanced offense. Masco knows just how important generating offense can be, as two of its tournament games last year came down to penalty kicks.
Fourth seeded St. John’s Prep will square off against Framingham on Saturday afternoon at home. The Eagles go into the first round with a 14-1-2 mark, having missed out on playing their final regular season game due to Hurricane Sandy.
The Prep had a crushing shootout loss to Acton-Boxboro last year in first round and will hope to avoid that same fate again. The Catholic Conference champs have established themselves as a premier club, shutting out their first six opponents of the season.
Peabody (9-4-5) draws the 12th seed and will face powerhouse Acton-Boxboro on Saturday (3 p.m.) on the road. Tommy Drover, Vlasi Duni and Ben Manoogian will be key if the Tanners want a win.
In Division 2, Danvers has a bye in the preliminary round and wait to play the winner of the Malden Catholic/Lynn Tech game. The fourth seeded Falcons have a first round home game on Sunday night and realize the importance of home field advantage.
After starting keeper Drew Larsen went down with a season-ending leg injury, freshman goalie Cameron Bornstein has gone above and beyond for his team.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way Cam has been playing for us,” said Danvers coach Mike Chase. “You have a kid who wasn’t looking to learn the ropes as a freshman and now he’s put into this tournament situation. He’s really stepped up.”
Beside Larsen, the Falcons go into Sunday’s game relatively healthy. Senior captain Eric Martin will be called upon to put his scoring skills to work. Danvers has a new look though this time around, with Martin’s experience and a solid bench— the team has depth.
“I was more reluctent to sub last year,” explained Chase. “I didn’t have the luxury of the depth I do this year, it’s unlike any team I’ve coached. Now the kids will have the ability to play more and have time to rest.”
Salem (11-4-3) earned the No. 9 seed and will travel to Manning Field to take on conference mate Lynn Classical on Saturday at 4:30. It was an even draw between these two during the regular season with each team take a game.
Beverly returns to the postseason for the first time since 2006. The Panthers (11-4-3) will host Winchester on Sunday at 2.
“The way we ended the season, we’re not afraid of anybody,” said coach Kevin Leahy, whose team had wins over Lynn Classical and Peabody down the stretch. “We’re excited to be back in the tournament.
“I don’t know much about our opponent, so I gave the kids a homework assignment to find as much as you can about Winchester.”
Marblehead (6-8-3), seeded 19th, travels to Reading tomorrow for a game under the lights at 7 p.m.
For Div. 3, Ipswich takes a top spot among our local teams. The Tigers (7-6-4) drew the 14th season and host Whittier Tech on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
North Shore Tech earned the 18th seed and will be traveling to Lynnfield on Friday for a 2 p.m. start. The Bulldogs (7-7-4) will ride first-year keeper, senior Jordan Mendez, who has been exceptional for them this season.
Bishop Fenwick (6-8-4) rounded out the 20th seed, taking on Austin Prep Friday afternoon on the road. Under first year head coach Nick Padovani, the Crusaders are hoping to get past the Cougars in the preliminary round.