This, is World Cup terms, is the pool of death. If you take a look at every other pool, there is a chance that the #1 seed can be upset. Not so in Pool A, that already makes the pool a different animal than most others. From the bottom up, Radnor is by far the strongest of the four seeds in the pools. They are a well coached team with experience. I still think that they’re look to fill the void that was left by their graduates, but they are capable of pulling upsets. They are by far the class of the four seeds in my opinion. Fieldston is a surprise two seed. They have tourney wins under their belts, but the competition hasn’t been fierce. However, their athleticism makes them a force to be reckoned with. Any team that is athletic and plays a deep game has a puncher’s chance. Watchung Hills holds tight here with the third seed, but I think they have the highest volatility of all the teams here. This will be there first time where they won’t be battling injuries. If they have a strong showing, they can take the two spot by force, if they don’t, they could very easily fall out of the pool. They have the talent to challenge for a spot in semis, but it depends on whether they can be focused enough to take the steps needed.
- Watchung Hills
This, is my opinion, is the weakest pool of the four. To me, Mt. Lebanon is seeded too high as second overall for the entire tournament. Pennsbury is probably seeded correctly, but I can see Mt. Lebanon and Pennsbury facing off in a tightly contested game. In a lot of ways, those two teams remind me a lot of one another. Both teams play very physically with a focus on the big play down the field. Both teams are stocked with athletes, but only a few handlers. It’s going to be interesting to see that 1-2 matchup. However, what makes this the weakest pool in my opinion is that the three and four seeds seem to be in a different class. St. Johnsbury and Xavier should be competitive with each other, but looking at their records, I can’t see them realistically taking down any of the two seeds in the other pools in their crossover game.
- Mt. Lebanon
- St. Johnsbury
Needham is coming off of the Amherst Invite with a lot of confidence and is playing in top form. They are peaking when they need to be and look to hold their first seed in the pool. Right on their heels however is Hampton from the Pittsburgh area. The team has yet to notch a tourney win, but have been close on multiple occasions. The team is composed of a solid core with great role players which allows them to be versatile. The game between Needham and Hampton should be a game to watch and it will have strong implications on the semifinal matchups. West Windsor Plainsboro North will be in a dogfight with John Jay to make it out of the pool. Both teams use zone extensively so it will be interesting to see how those teams match up.
- John Jay
This pool is going to be very interesting to watch. Sadly, I don’t think Falmouth will be in contention to make it out of pool play. Being from Maine, I don’t know much about the schools on their record, but they will be hard pressed to make a showing. However, they could end up surprising us, with them being a mystery. However, looking at the other three teams in the pool, it will be a pitched battle to see who places where. Longmeadow and Sharon are coming off of impressive showings last weekend. Sharon was very impressive, being a third year team taking both Needham and Columbia to Universe. I could see any of these three teams swapping, but what will be more interesting are the crossover matchups. I think this pool will be a nightmare for pool A as all of those three teams are fundamentally sound and have no glaring weaknesses. I can definitely see three teams from pool D making the quarterfinals.