Boston Cannons the best local sports franchise you don’t know about

Owen Smith, center, and the Boston Cannons lacrosse team take the field last weekend against Charlotte.

Most casual sports fans probably aren’t even aware that the last professional sports team from the Boston area to win a championship wasn’t the Boston Bruins last June but actually the Boston Cannons in August. They have a good chance to repeat as well this season after getting off to a solid start (5-2) in 2012 and it just so happens that Major League Lacrosse championship weekend is Aug. 25-26 in Allston, Mass. at Harvard Stadium – the Cannons’ home turf. 

One of the charter members of the now eight-team MLL, which was created in 2001, the Cannons have played in two other locations, Lowell’s Cawley Stadium (2001-03) and Boston University’s Nickerson Field (2004-06), before settling into Harvard Stadium in 2007. MLL survived a bleak period as 10 teams were contracted down to six in 2009 and two divisions/conferences were dropped into one catch all grouping. However, two expansion teams were added this spring and now lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States with three specific advantages over baseball, its main rival: it is fast-paced, high-scoring and full of action. In other words, it’s highly appealing to children.

Firepower

The Cannons feature the best player in MLL: midfielder Paul Rabil.

Rabil leads the league in scoring with 38 points (15 goals including a pair of 2-point goals and 21 assists). You read that correctly: MLL features a 2-point goal for long distance shots (16 yards away from the net). Another innovation that has improved the product is a 60-second shot clock which helps to eradicate stalling (a major issue in high school and college lacrosse).

There are plenty of local players who either grew up in New England or attended college in the greater Boston area. Midfielder Mike Stone (15 goals, 4 assists) is a Middlebury alum and he’s tied for the 3rd-leading scorer on the team. Winchester native and midfielder J.J. Morrissey is third on the team in ground balls (23) while Brown alum and goalie Jordan Burke has started all seven games. Midfielder Jon Hayes went to Western New England College and defender Jack Reid was a main cog of the UMass-Amherst squad that made the NCAA title game in 2006.

Cannons’ Slate

Boston sits at 5-2 on the 2012 season. A look at the rest of their schedule:
   
Saturday, June 23 Cannons at Bayhawks, 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 7 Cannons at Nationals, 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 14 Cannons at Lizards, 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 19 Outlaws at Cannons, 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 28 Bayhawks at Cannons, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 4 Machine at Cannons, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 11 Cannons at Machine, 7 p.m.

Tickets for Cannons games at Harvard Stadium start at just $13.


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