After winning the franchise's first Major League Lacrosse championship last August, the Boston Cannons (9-5, 3rd place) put together another fine season which gives them a special opportunity: they will try to become the second back-to-back champ in league history (the now defunct Philadelphia Barrage in 2006-07) when the playoffs culminate next weekend at Harvard Stadium.
Furthermore, they will try to become the second team (Cannons in 2004 at their old home - BU's Nickerson Field) to host championship weekend (final four) on their home turf and advance to the final. Ironically, none have ever won a title on their own field (which is predetermined ahead of time). The Long Island Lizards (8-6) face the Denver Outlaws (11-3) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25 followed by the Cannons vs. the Chesapeake Bayhawks (10-4) at 4 p.m. The championship game is Sunday, August 26 at 3 p.m.
MLL set an attendance record this season and local lacrosse fans have already made their presence felt over Memorial Day weekend at Gillette Stadium for the NCAA men's lacrosse championships. With the home team still alive, expect some big crowds to make their way to Cambridge. In terms of prestige, this quartet is definitely the most accomplished of the eight active teams in MLL. Chesapeake won the title in 2010 along with 2002 and 2005 when they played in Baltimore. Long Island was the champion in 2003 after being the runner-up in 2002, they also finished second in 2010. Denver is the lone squad to have never won hardware but they've come close, losing in the 2006, 2008 and 2009 final.
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The Cannons were an offensive juggernaut this season with three different players leading in the major categories: goals, assists and points. Still known as the MLL's top player, midfielder Paul Rabil set a new MLL scoring record with 72 points (27 goals, 7 2-point goals, 38 assists). Attackman Matt Poskay paced the MLL with 38 goals while fellow attackman Ryan Boyle had a career-high 39 assists. Midfielder Mike Stone (22 goals, 6 assists), defender Brian Farrell (33 groundballs), goalie Jordan Burke (.536 save percentage), attackman Kevin Buchanan (31 goals, 1 2-point goal, 10 assists) and face-off specialist Chris Eck (67 percent face-off win percentage) were All-Stars along with Rabil in the MLL All-Star Game on June 30.
That abundance of talent, championship experience and depth all over the field is why you simply cannot bet against the Cannons to get it done at Harvard Stadium, where they went 4-2 during the 2012 regular season.
Big time Lax
Local fans will get a look at the best lacrosse in the U.S. from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26.
Practice is open to the public to watch the Final Four teams on Friday, Aug. 24 at Harvard Stadium from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.. Autograph-seekers are welcome.
Tickets for the Final Four start at $25 and tailgating is welcome. For more information, please visit majorleaguelacrosse.com/tickets