St. John’s Prep finally earns the respect the Eagles felt they were due all year by supplanting Catholic Memorial for the top spot in the Globe’s final Top 20 football poll.
It’s fair to wonder still, if Prep is the best team in the state, since Mansfield steamrolled the competition in Division 2 and looked unbeatable against in-state competition, with the Hornets’ sole loss coming to national powerhouse La Salle (Ohio).
Perhaps it’s time for the football committee to consider adopting a Division 1A tournament to determine which team is truly best in the land. The committee will likely have the opportunity to vote for a 1A bracket starting in the fall of 2021 when the MIAA moves to realignment and potentially to a statewide tournament for all sports.
Speaking of realignment, Duxbury became the latest victim of Springfield Central’s dominance in D3. The Dragons retain their spot at No. 9 despite getting blown out by a school with over 2,000 students. Melrose and Ashland wrapped up seasons for the ages with state titles, and Swampscott dominated Amherst in the D5 Super Bowl, but still finishes behind rival Marblehead after dropping a Thanksgiving thriller to the Magicians.
Just to remind folks opposing the new playoff system, neither Swampscott, nor St. John’s Prep would’ve had an opportunity to compete for a state title under the old format since they did not win their conference.
Needham finished just shy of its ultimate goal — the Rockets lost in the state final to Longmeadow — but rolling through the rugged Bay State Conference and advancing to the Division 1 final puts coach Jimmy Odierna’s squad in the No. 1 spot. Winchester managed to finish the job in Division 2, winning the final over Milford after besting a tough Middlesex Liberty division during the regular season.
Nauset started the season with the highest possible standards. The Warriors had not lost a game since the 2017 tournament, after all. They ran their unbeaten streak all the way into the 2019 tournament, where they fell in the sectional finals to Milford in a penalty shootout. Nauset entered the season No. 1, and they finish at No. 5. Milford, the team that knocked off the near-perfect Warriors, ascend to the upper echelon at No. 4.
Burke kept a low profile during the regular season, trailing East Boston in the Boston City League standings. But the Bulldogs upset the Jets in the City title game and made it all the way to the Division 4 state final. They lost to Bromfield, 1-0, and came up just short of being the first City team to win a state championship. The Bulldogs are 18th in the final ranking.
A dramatic finish, the first state title in program history, and an undefeated season all combined to shoot Bishop Feehan to the top of the Globe’s final soccer rankings.
The Shamrocks (23-0-1) marched through the toughest non-league schedule Feehan coach Phil Silva could construct without a loss. All those tests paid off on the biggest stage when junior Francesca Yanchuk’s blast in the 80th minute found the back of the net for a 3-2 victory against Westfield in the D1 title game.
King Philip (21-1) checks in at No. 2 after leading the rankings most of the second half of the season. The Warriors outscored opponents, 79-3, in the regular season, and 13-4 in three tournament romps, before the Shamrocks caught the top seed in the D1 South final.
No. 3 Holliston (19-0-3) emerged out of the Tri-Valley League with great resilience all fall. The Panthers survived every challenge in their path unbeaten all the way through a 3-2 victory against defending EMass D2 champion No. 6 Winchester (17-2-3) for the first title in program history.
Natick earns the No. 4 spot with a 14-3-3 mark, which included a 3-2 tournament victory at No. 8 Whitman-Hanson (16-2-2), before a loss to the Shamrocks in the D1 South semifinals. Brookline (15-2-5) rounds out the top 5 after winning its second straight D1 North crown.
Stoneham (20-4) comes in at No. 7 after the first Division 3 state final run in program history. Millis (17-5-4) also makes the rankings after the two-time defending Division 4 champion reached a third straight state final.
Somerset Berkley made history once again in 2019. A year after becoming the first mixed-gender team to win the state championship, the Raiders completed a perfect season, going 24-0 to defend their D1 title and the top spot in our poll, which they held all season.
And just like last year, the Raiders upended Walpole in the D1 South final. The Porkers pull in right below S-B, after finishing the season at 19-1-2. Somerset Berkley also beat out No. 4 Andover (16-3-4) in the state semifinals. Andover’s appearance was a surprise in itself, as the roster boasted just three seniors and a first-year goalie in junior Paige Gillette. She shined in the D1 North final, with a spectacular 35-save performance to oust No. 5 Acton-Boxborough (21-1) in triple overtime.
Somerset Berkley will lose nine seniors to graduation, including forward Lucas Crook and back Alex Millar. The boys, who played for SB throughout their four years in high school, are certainly not the only males in the state playing field hockey, but perhaps the most prolific.
For the first time in 10 years, the Division 1 state final did not feature either Newton North or Barnstable. There’s a changing of the guard: Needham ran the table to win the first state title in program history. Needham defeated Winchester — which also made its first state final appearance — han-ding the North champion Sachems their only loss.
It was a season of firsts for multiple girls’ volleyball teams across EMass. Needham, Winchester, Boston Latin, Danvers, Dennis-Yarmouth, Rockland, and Ipswich were all first-time sectional champions.
Boston Latin debuts in the rankings at No. 7. The Wolfpack went 15-7, but stunned defending D1 champion Newton North in the Central-East semifinals before defeating King Philip in the sectional final. No. 5 Canton topped No. 6 Danvers, 3-2, in the Division 2 state final, thwarting the Falcons’ chance at an undefeated season. Dennis-Yarmouth — debuting at No. 16 — stunned Duxbury, 3-2, to win the Division 2 South final before falling to Danvers in the state semifinals.
Rockland advanced to its first Division 3 state final, defeating Case 3-1 in the D3 South final and sweeping Ipswich in the state semifinals before falling to West powerhouse Frontier Regional 3-2 in the state final. The Bulldogs (24-2) debut in the No. 20 spot.