2016 Northeasterns: Boys' Division Preview
Posted: May 20, 2016 12:46 PM
2016 High School Northeasterns (Boys' Division)
The Amherst Hurricanes’ performance this season justifies their number one seed. They recently won the Amherst Invite against some of the best competition in the country. They handily defeated Columbia High School 15-4 in the championship, after beating them 15-1 in pool play. Throughout the tournament, no one put up more than eight points against them. With a stable of athletic defenders and a strong group of returners running the offense, they are the clear favorite to win this tournament.
Pennsbury beat Amherst last year in the finals at Northeasterns, but they lack consistency this season. They placed third at Born to Dive, where they beat Columbia 13-8. But Columbia later foiled their hopes of repeating as Amherst Invite champs with a 12-11 victory in the quarterfinals. Pennsbury is a historically good program, especially recently, and may earn their way to the finals.
Lexington enters Northeasterns this year as an unknown entity. This a well-established program within the state of Massachusetts. They’ve done well at Northeasterns in the past, having lost to Pennsbury in semifinals last year.
Look out for Westfield High School, who beat Pennsbury on their way to a finals appearance at Born to Dive and placed first at April Madness. According to coach Ryan Belline, their 22-man roster is "a faceless team with a ton of depth," and their tournament results show it. They earned fourth place at a tournament with top-level Washington, D.C. and North Carolina teams at the YULA Invite, but lost big in the semifinals and third-place game. But Westfield has not lost to second-tier teams, and this resiliency will pay off with many unknown teams looking to steal a win from Pool D’s top seed. It will be interesting to see how they stack up against Amherst if they face them in bracket play.
Middle of the Pack
Columbia will be an interesting team to watch. The have flashes of brilliance, winning over Pennsbury to reach finals of Amherst Invite and losing narrowly in the finals to Westfield at April Madness. They have a few lopsided losses to good teams on their record but come to play on Sunday. They can hang with any team at this tournament but need to avoid caving against good teams to make a run on Sunday.
Methacton and Masconmet are programs on the rise. Last year, Methacton beat Pennsbury for the first time in program history, but fell to them in the Pennsylvania State Championships semifinals. Masconmet also has recent success, having won Northeasterns in 2014 and earning third at the Massachusetts State Championships in 2015. This year, they have lopsided wins over many second-tier teams and a big 15-5 win over Lexington. Masconmet is a darkhorse pick to spoil teams’ runs during bracket play on Sunday.
Franklin Regional and Pine Richland have done well in the Pittsburgh High School League. After watching Franklin Regional defeat Pine Richland 15-6 in the Pittsburgh High School League finals, it is evident that Franklin Regional runs a system that works. They have a core of patient handlers who reset the disc well. These are disciplined throwers, but they have a quick trigger fingers when it comes to hitting an open deep look. If the Franklin Regional squad can handle the physical and mental strain of this tournament, they could win Pool D on Saturday.
Interestingly, North Allegheny has wins against Franklin Regional and Pine Richland. Much like Pine Richland, Hampton isn’t as deep as Franklin Regional, but they have a few all-stars capable of taking over on offense.
Radnor and Needham have both played against quality competition this year. Radnor did not fare well against this competition, with losses to Westfield, Columbia and Pennsbury. Needham also has a handful of losses to excellent opponents like Amherst, Lexington and Pennsbury. Though they may not have beaten these top-tier teams, expect this experience to help them against the other teams in the middle of the pack.
Lots of teams enter this tournament with little out-of-town experience. Montpelier, FIeldston, Xavier and many Pittsburgh teams exist within a vacuum. Xavier finished third at Connecticut States, while Montpelier has a couple tournament wins within the state of Vermont. It is hard to say how any success in their local leagues will translate to a bigger stage. With Massachusetts teams constantly producing players that go on to have great college and club careers, it is tough to imagine how these unknown teams will stack up. But that’s the great thing about high school ultimate: you never know what team is going to show up to Northeasterns and surprise everybody.
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