Hi ILWT Readers,
What a crazy weekend! Unless you live under a rock, you should have noticed that the MLL opened up its season in typical fashion. Week 1 offered MLL fans an incredible lacrosse experience, from high scoring offensive battles to late game near-comebacks. If you are truly passionate about lacrosse and the MLL, I would suggest catching up on any games you missed this past weekend on Espn3 and Youtube.
In Boston, the Cannons opened up the season with the defending league champions, the Chesapeake Bayhawks. If you look at the Bayhawks roster and all the transactions made by their coaching staff and front office this offseason, it’s no surprise that many lacrosse pundits voted them as a likely candidate to win a third straight MLL Championship. Sunday’s match up marked another meeting in the historic rivalry between original MLL foes. I vividly remember watching the Cannons and Bayhawks square off at Cawley Stadium in Lowell, MA back in the early 2000’s, with MLL greats Gary Gait, Mark Millon, Dave Evans and Michael Watson on the field.
Understanding the challenge ahead of us, the coaching staff and our recently named captains, Paul Rabil, Ryan Boyle, and Mitch Belisle, led us through two focused practices prior to Sunday’s grudge match. As I have mentioned previously, practice in the MLL is far different than a practice at the collegiate level. Teams are allotted only two practices per week in season, which puts an emphasis on efficiency. As result, all stick work and conditioning required to be a successful athlete and lacrosse player are done during the week, on each player’s own accord. Friday and Saturday were no different for the Cannons, as practice was utilized to work on offensive/defensive schemes, specialty units (man up, man down), and live 6 on 6 reps. After digesting the game plan put in place by Coach Tucker and witnessing the team’s energy and focus, I knew we would be ready to compete against the defending champs.
Right from the first whistle, our defensive unit set the tone for the rest of the game. The unit, lead by goalie Jordan Burke, made three big stops in the early going, as our offense worked to find its rhythm. With our back end locking down the high powered Bayhawks, our offense found its spark behind Kevin Buchanan’s late first quarter goal. Luckily for us, Buchanan wasn’t finished, as he ended the game with 7 goals, thus earning MLL Offensive Player of the Week. Our offensive output was tremendous for an opening game, and multiple individuals contributed to that effort. Also, special shout out to attackman Jack Rice for scoring his first MLL goal! Equally as impressive was the performance of our defense, which held the Bayhawks to under 10 goals. We received big time reinforcements on Sunday, as Brodie Merrill and Kyle Sweeney arrived at the locker room fresh off of their final NLL game the night before. Their presence, in addition to our outstanding communication and team defense, contributed to the stalwart defensive effort.
At the end of the day, our victory over the Bayhawks marked the first step in a long season. Every game is crucial in the MLL due to the league’s competiveness and talent. As fulfilling as it was to enjoy the victory over the defending champs, it’s now time for us to look ahead toward the Rochester Rattlers, a team we are 1-3 against the past two seasons. The bus for Rochester leaves Thursday, as our game at Sahlen Stadium is Friday night at 7:30pm. Until next week, I leave you with a departing inspirational quote, ‘I’m pissed off for greatness,’ –Ray Lewis.
Crush the week.