In the immediate aftermath, Saturday night’s 19-18 loss to the Chesapeake Bayhawks (1-1) in the rain and cold was a tough one to digest for the Boston Cannons (1-2) in their home opener at Harvard Stadium.
After all, they had led 14-9 at halftime and appeared well on their way to a comfortable win before Chesapeake turned the tables on them with a stunning 10-4 second half spurred by star midfielder Myles Jones (five goals, including a two-pointer and four assists) who proved to be virtually unstoppable.
With that said, there are plenty of things for the Cannons to be excited about as far as the 2017 campaign goes with 11 games left (six at home and five on the road).
“We have to play better 6-on-6 defense,” admitted Cannons defenseman James Fahey, who scored a goal vs. the Bayhawks. “We can’t let one guy dictate how we mentally play with each other. It was a great learning lesson for next week.”
Saturday was the start of a four-game homestand for Boston, which will take them through June 3. Even in the unfavorable conditions for fans, nearly 5,000 people still managed to show up. That is a good sign since the weather should only get better as the season goes along. In their second year back at Harvard Stadium (also home of Harvard football), the Cannons feel like a natural fit in Cambridge. Parking is free and the Sports Hub’s Jim Murray is the on-field emcee during the games.
Boston has gone 8-6 the last two seasons and while that was good enough for them to reach the playoffs in 2015, they missed out last season based on a tiebreaker. Seven of the nine teams in MLL were 8-6, which is still hard to fathom.
Their lone MLL title came in 2011.
As their first three contests of this campaign have shown, the Cannons have one of the top offenses in the league. They won 18-17 in their season-opener at the Florida Launch before falling 13-10 in Atlanta to the Blaze. They’ve scored in double-digits in each game but likewise, they have also allowed even more (13+ each time).
Clearly, they’ll need to tighten things up on the defensive end to reach the postseason once again.
The Cannons starting attackmen of Kylor Bellistri (eight goals, three assists), Will Manny (eight goals, three assists) and Davey Emela (nine goals, one assist) form just about the best unit that you’ll find in MLL.
All three of them had a hat trick against the Bayhawks and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to put up big point totals all season long since they give opposing defenses plenty to worry about. Which one of those guys do you choose to focus on the most?
“We scored 18 goals so I’m expecting to win that game,” noted Manny, “But if the defense is struggling, it’s on the offense to score one or two more and we didn’t. We have to finish games especially if we start fast.”
Lacrosse has never been more popular both in the New England region and nationally. All of Boston’s games will be shown on the Boston-based Lax Sports Network while the league also has begun a lucrative streaming deal with Twitter to show live games free of charge on the powerful social media platform. The NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament (Final Four for Division I and title games in Divisions II and III) comes back to Gillette Stadium this Memorial Day weekend.
It has been held at the home of the Patriots in 2008, 2009 and 2012 and it’s already locked in for next year as well. MLL is adding to the signature event for lacrosse fans by holding their draft on the Sunday of that weekend at Patriots Place. The Cannons also have a show called Cannons Full Contact which airs regularly during the season on CSN (new episodes are at 9 AM on Saturday mornings).
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate