Favorites: Duxbury (14-5), Lincoln-Sudbury (15-2), Needham (16-2).
Dark horses: Marshfield (17-4), Westford Academy (12-8), Xaverian (12-6).
Overview: The only thing assured in Division 1 is that we will not have a rematch of last year’s title game, with No. 2 seed Needham and No. 3 seed Duxbury falling on the same side of the bracket. While everybody has visions of another classic between the Duxbury and No. 1 seed L-S dancing in their heads, the teams’ path to Harvard Stadium is not without peril. The Dragons will likely need to avenge their streak-busting loss to Needham during the season in their path to the final. L-S could also face an upset-minded Acton-Boxborough squad, or perhaps look out for No. 5 seed Marshfield working its way into a semi-final game. Needham will also have difficulty on its side of the bracket, with Xaverian and Westford Academy poised to strike.
The pick: Duxbury over Lincoln-Sudbury.
EASTERN MASS DIVISION 2
Favorites: Hingham (18-3), Medfield (17-3).
Dark horses: Concord-Carlisle (12-5), Marblehead (15-3), Reading (16-2), Wayland (17-3).
Overview: The always wide-open Division 2 field figures to be just so this year, with nine teams carrying four or fewer losses in the regular season. Hingham enters the tournament with the No. 1 seed, and has perhaps been the most consistent team in the sectional from wire-to-wire. They could be primed to raise the hardware at Harvard. No. 2 Medfield is trying to get back to the top of winner’s podium, but could face challenges coming out of its side of the bracket with No. 10 Marblehead having designs on some potential upsets. On the other side of the bracket, there might not be a better first-round matchup in the state this year than a potential rematch of last year’s Eastern Mass. D2 title game with Concord-Carlisle and Wellesley.
The pick: Hingham over Concord-Carlisle.
CENTRAL MASS DIVISION 2
Favorite: St. John’s of Shrewsbury (15-3).
Dark horses: Grafton (16-3), Shrewsbury (15-5), Algonquin (14-6).
Overview: The eventual winner of the Eastern Mass. Division 1 derby will eventually have to tussle with a talented team coming out of the Central or West sectional for the state title. And that state champion might just come out this district. St. John’s was rewarded for its regular-season play with the No. 1 seed, but No. 2 seed Grafton will be a team to watch, as will No. 5 seed Algonquin, which hopes to add another chapter to a storied rivalry with a potential semi-final date with the Pioneers.
The pick: St. John’s over Grafton.
Favorite: Dover-Sherborn (14-4).
Dark horses: Cohasset (13-2), Austin Prep (16-2), Archbishop Williams (11-7), Newburyport (12-3).
Overview: Although the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, I’m going with defending Division 3 champion Dover-Sherborn as my favorite to begin. The Raiders have one of the best goaltenders in the state in Ryan Goodall and can stop it with the very best. However, that is not to say that there are not others on the hunt. Since around the time of the Chowda Cup, No. 1 seed Cohasset has kicked it into another gear and ended the regular season with momentum, beating Division 1 BC High. A few Catholic Central teams should figure prominently in the mix, with league champion and No. 2 seed Austin Prep leading the way. Look for No. 12 seed Archbishop Williams to make a run from the lower bracket – if they can get past No. 5 seed Newburyport.
The pick: Dover-Sherborn over Newburyport.
(Note: West Division 2 seedings were not available at time of publication.)