Winter CELL 2023 Championship Coverage
CELL Championship Weekend Scoring Leaders
CELL Championship Weekend Goalie Leaders
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The CELL Championship flight ended up exactly as the league directors thought it should. The three teams that had displayed the most competitive lacrosse throughout the session – the Sheep, Natterjacks & Alouettes – went in with momentum; the Clownfish clawed their way in, led by the heavy shot of long pole Griff Bast, the gritty and consistent goal production of Kyle Soule, and the slickness and creativity of Max Kosicki.
Because the Clownfish went winless in the playoff, I’m going to focus on the other three teams. That said, in this highly competitive ten-team league, the Clownfish deserve credit for making it to the semis. And they were not pushovers in the league’s final day of play.
But the three teams that all registered wins on Sunday each deserve some extra props, both in terms of their performance on Sunday and in terms of their performance throughout the session. And indeed, for these three, this session was just one chapter in a book still being written. What do I mean when I say this?
Well, the Sheep, Natterjacks and Alouettes are each not only regional rivals in MA high school lacrosse, but are among the truly elite teams not only in the central Massachusetts, but I believe the state. The programs that each roster is largely comprised of will make deep playoff pushes, and in the process, will undoubtedly see each other again this spring, perhaps multiple times.
With that as a backdrop, I’ll first give props to the Natterjacks. Tied for 2nd at the conclusion of the CELL regular season, the Natterjacks, led by slick lefty Jack Schartner, played very good ball throughout the session. In addition to Schartner, tough midfielder Liam Duhame and host of others always consistently contributed, but there’s no way they would’ve shared 2nd without the contribution of their tough defensive corp. On this side of the ball, it was the physically imposing duo of Quinn Maclean and Liam Kelly who held it down week in and week out.
But in the end, it was two teams left standing, the Alouettes and the Sheep. Much like the Super Bowl teams that would kick off just a few hours later, these were the two teams most would’ve picked to play for all the marbles. While the Sheep concluded the CELL regular season with the league’s best overall record, and top seed, the Alouettes beat the Sheep the week prior by a final of 12-10. Something had to give this time around.
And eventually, it did. Despite the downright extraordinary play of senior leader Rafael Knapp, and the noteworthy contributions of AJ Guidi, Jack Battles and the brothers Gulachenksi, the Sheep ultimately separated down the stretch of the day’s final game that would serve as the Championship. It certainly wasn’t easy. But in an impressive, workmanlike manner, they wore down the Alouettes. The soft-handed and highly skilled A.J. Amandolare played extraordinarily well; it was the best we’ve seen him play. Teammates Colin Bellaud, Jacob Beaulac and Ryan Bouvier certainly did their part, as did goaltender Marc Gadbois and a group of poles so complete that it’s hard to identify who to single out.
All in all, it was very much a Championship flight and a final game befitting the league as it had been played throughout: competitive and spirited. We’ll look forward to tracking the teams that participated throughout their spring seasons, and I can assure you each will see their spring season results improve because of their off-season work. I know I speak for all our coaches when I say I’m grateful that some of that work was put in amidst a Winter 2022/2023 CELL session that would prove to be most of the most balanced and competitive in recent memory!