The Hamilton Nationals are the best team in Major League Lacrosse not named the Denver Outlaws. So how can the Boston Cannons beat them?Before last week, the Cannons had won four straight to get to the .500 mark for the first time this season. Last week they ended up losing to the Chesapeake Bayhawks in overtime, led by Casey Powell.
The Cannons are now 5-6 and in fourth place in the league, the final playoff spot. Rochester and Charlotte are tied, but Boston owns the tiebreakers. None of those three teams can clinch this week. However, the Nationals can.
A Nats win or Charlotte loss puts them in the playoffs. A win for the Cannons last week would have put them in a terrific position moving forward, ahead of Chesapeake due to tiebreakers and also a game closer to clinching. Now they are on the road against the second hottest team in the league.
Hamilton is led by MVP candidate Kevin Crowley who now has 100 career MLL points in less than three full seasons. They are also led by goaltender Dillon Ward, who along with Jordan Burke are two of the best young goalies in the game today. Both made 17 saves last week.
When the Cannons struggle, they start and end games slow. Against Hamilton, they cannot afford to do that. Paul Rabil has to be on his A game along with Stephen Berger, Mike Stone and Matt Poskay. Along with secondary scorers Ryan Boyle and Kevin Buchanan, that offense should penetrate.
However, the Cannons have turned the ball over often. Against the stingy defense of the Nationals that makes it tougher to control, but a turnover could be a goal for a high scoring Hamilton club.