It’s been a turbulent season for the Boston Cannons in Major League Lacrosse, after stumbling out of the gate to a 1-5 start they fired head coach Steve Duffy and replaced him with assistant coach John Tucker. That seemed to turn things around as the Cannons won four games in a row to start Tucker’s tenure, before they lost 13-12 in overtime at Chesapeake last week. At 5-6, the Cannons have three games left in the regular season (two at Harvard Stadium, one on the road).
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Currently, they are in fourth place (the top four teams in MLL make championship weekend, August 24 and 25 in Philadelphia) and they could finish as high as second or could miss the playoffs entirely. In sum, the remaining games on their schedule are extremely important.
Coming off his hat trick against Chesapeake, Boston midfielder Paul Rabil leads MLL in points (46 points on 29 goals, two 2-point goals and 15 assists). An excitable announcer on CBS Sports Network, calling the Cannons-Bayhawks game compared Rabil to LeBron James which is a little much (I blame the heat wave for frying his brain), but it gives you an idea of how dominant the former Johns Hopkins star can be. Middlebury graduate and Wellesley native Mike Stone, another midfielder, is second on the team in scoring with 21 goals and 5 assists. Meanwhile, rookie attackman Will Manny, from UMass Amherst, has made a smooth transition to the pro game with 11 goals and 9 assists in just seven games.
Boston can’t complain about a tough schedule down the stretch as they travel to face the Hamilton Nationals (8-3) on Saturday, July 27 (7 p.m.) but then return to host two of the worst teams in MLL to wrap up the regular season: vs. Ohio Machine (1-10) on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 4 p.m. then the Rochester Rattlers (4-7) on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m.. Predictably, the Cannons have been a better team at Harvard Stadium (3-2) so far this season than on the road (2-4).
To reach the playoffs and their full potential, the Cannons need to tighten things up defensively. They’ve scored the second most goals (142) in the eight-team MLL but they’ve allowed the most (150) goals in the league. Unlike most other sports, the goalie - Jordan Burke (4-5 with 13.78 goals against average and .518 save percentage)- isn’t at fault as much as you’d expect because stopping any quality shot in lacrosse is a very difficult proposition.
Follow Rich Slate on Twitter @RichSlate