Hi ILWT Readers,
Another weekend of training camp is now in the books! As I mentioned last week, the Cannons traveled out to Union College to face the Rochester Rattlers in a pre-season scrimmage. The trip to Schenectady began early Saturday morning, as all local team members met at the Cannons’ office in Allston for a planned departure at 8 am. My day started off on the wrong foot, as I happened to turn off my alarm, instead of hitting the ‘snooze’ button. Fortunately, I was woken up by a phone call from Marty Bowes at 7:55 am, asking when I expected to arrive in Allston. Thanks to a bit of foresight, I had decided to pack my bags the night before, so I jumped out of bed, threw my gear into my car, and arrived at the team bus by 8:10 am.
The cruise down the Mass Pike (or the 90, for the Upstate-ers) was nothing new to me, as I had driven this exact highway multiple times to Rochester back in 2012. Luckily, the trip west to Schenectady is an easy, three hour ride, about half the time it takes to arrive in Rochester. On our way to Schenectady, the bus stopped at the Albany Airport to pick up some members of the coaching staff and players not from Boston, including Paul Rabil, Stephen Berger, and Chris Eck.
The bus arrived at Schenectady High School around 1 pm, the location for our two hour, pre-scrimmage practice. The high school featured a newly renovated field turf surface and boasted many notable alumni, particularly NBA coaching great Pat Riley. The coaching staff once again stressed the importance of competitiveness and mental focus (especially from a schematic stand point), as they were continuing to evaluate the team. Similar to the training camp sessions from last week, practice consisted of stick work, uneven situations, and six on six reps. In addition, the team was broken down by position, where the coaching staff reviewed and fine tuned offensive and defensive concepts as preparation for the upcoming scrimmage and season.
Shortly after 8 pm, the Cannons took the field against the Rattlers. For a pre-season game, the turnout was very impressive and kudos was earned by the game’s organizers for attracting such a youthful, energetic crowd. The scrimmage was a tremendous opportunity to watch high level lacrosse, especially for lacrosse fans that normally do not have access to live MLL games. The game itself was an exciting display of athleticism and skill. Like any mid-season MLL game, the scrimmage featured scoring runs by each team, acrobatic saves, impressive defensive efforts, and dialed-in passing and shooting.
After four quarters of running time, the score read 14-10 in favor of the Cannons. Each team was missing key members of their rosters due to other commitments; however, coming away with a victory in any professional setting is always the goal. But, the point of this scrimmage extended further than winning and losing. The scrimmage allowed the coaching staff to further evaluate the training camp roster as they continue to piece together the final group of men to represent the Cannons in Week 1. At any given practice, an athlete can look impressive, but the critical question asks how that athlete will perform when the “lights turn on.” Also, the scrimmage helped create early season chemistry amongst the team. As this was our last official weekend of training camp, the scrimmage was another opportunity to establish roles and cohesiveness among our offensive and defensive units. Among the many solid, individual efforts of the night, a few notable performances to mention are: Jordan Burke’s multiple saves on the doorstep, Will Manny’s confidence and leadership at X, Brent Adams’ and Marty Bowes’ hustle on defense and in transition, and Kevin Buchanan’s ability to cut through a defense. After a quick recap from the coaching staff, the team weaved its way through the mass of rowdy Union College students, who were celebrating the victory of its Men’s Hockey Team in the Division 1 National Championship. Upon arriving back at the hotel, members of the team dispersed for some late night eats, before hitting the hay for the evening.
Before I knew it, I was back on the field at Union College by 8:30 am Sunday morning, completing the last official session of training camp. Given our practice and scrimmage the day before, the coaching staff determined Sunday’s practice would be less physically demanding. In just helmets and gloves, the team overcame any minor aches and pains, since the coaching staff still expected high energy, mental focus, and competitiveness during Sunday’s evaluation. Stick work, conditioning, and schematic repetition were the theme for Sunday’s practice, but not before Mitch Belisle lead a thorough static and active warm up. An hour and a half later, the coaching staff huddled the team together to recap the weekend before we loaded the bus for the trip back to Boston.
With no official training camp session scheduled for next week, tune in to my next blog following our first game of the season versus the Bayhawks. Until then, I leave you with this quote: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”–Vince Lombardi.
Crush the week.