With eight games left in the Major League Lacrosse regular season for the Boston Cannons (3-2), there is still plenty of action remaining in what has so far been a highly entertaining campaign. In the five gamesthey have already played,the Cannons have proven that they can compete with just about anyone. They are currently in fifth-place in the nine team league with the top four clubs advancing to the playoffs in August. Boston had won three straight games before falling 14-7 to MLL-leading Ohio (4-1) last Saturday at home.
Attackman Will Manny leads MLL in points (15 goals, including 2 2-pointers and 11 assists) and goaltender Tyler Fiorito has made the most saves (70) in the league. Faceoff specialist Joe Nardella also has the second best faceoff percentage in MLL (49/77). With first-year head coach Sean Quirk getting comfortable in his new role, Cannons GM Kevin Barney has been happy with the progress that he’s seen so far from his team.
“We’ve had some good games and then some games where we’ve struggled in different facets,” he noted. “Will (an All-Star last season) has taken his game to another level and he continues to get better. He’s been the leader for us, both on and off of the field.”
Midfielder Kevin Buchanan returns to the team after competing for the New England Black Wolves (National Lacrosse League) - a professional indoor team - while rookie defenseman Brandon Mullins will soon report to the Cannons after Syracuse lost in the NCAA Tournament last weekend. Finally, Tufts attackman and another Boston draft pick John Uppgren’s spectacular collegiate career comes to a close on Sunday as the Jumbos bid for their third straight Division 3 title vs. Salisbury.
The Cannons hit the road over the next few weekends with games at Denver (1-3) this Saturday night (8:30, Lax Sports Network) and then at Atlanta (2-2) on Saturday, June 4, before returning to Harvard Stadium to take on Charlotte (3-1) on Saturday, June 11. With the team starting to see opponents for the second time this season, things like tiebreakers (goal-differential) start to come into play.
“It’s a big stretch for us coming up, we’re trying to put five teams behind us," Barney said. "Home-field in the playoffs doesn’t exist (since it is held at a neutral site) so it essentially doesn’t matter where we finish (1-4). How can we separate from the bottom teams?”
Boston is dealing with some nagging ankle injuries to Nardella and star midfielder Max Seibald (5 goals, 1 2-pointer, 2 assists) so if they miss another game, expect midfielders like Craig Bunker (26/47 on faceoffs), Justin Turri (6 goals, 1 2-pointer, 2 assists) and Brent Adams (5 goals, 3 assists) to step up into bigger roles.
“We just want to avoid losing streaks, make sure we’re healthy and playing well over the last four games (heading into the postseason),” explained Barney. “The league has been very competitive this season, nobody is a walkover by any means.”
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate