Turns out the Boston Cannons have more fight in them than we gave them credit for.
A day after losing to the Connecticut Hammerheads, the Cannons roared back like the veteran team they are to beat the previously undefeated Denver Outlaws 10-8. With the Bayhawks beating the Hammerheads earlier in the day, the field for Saturday’s semi-finals is set. And if you enjoyed Friday’s heavyweight matchup between Boston and Denver, you’re in luck, because they’ll face off again at 1 p.m. today.
Chris Aslanian put Denver up 1-0 with an overhand shot 3:07 into the game. Boston’s John Uppgren quickly answered, and before the period was out the Cannons led 3-1. Frank Brown scored their third goal on a long bomb, stepping into his shot from just inside the arc.
The Cannons took a 6-3 lead by halftime after Bryce Wasserman completed his hat trick. Impressive as his goals were, Wasserman’s best play might have been his dish to Brown, who put the ball through Christian Knight’s legs for a 4-2 lead at the time. Wasserman then scored with just six seconds left to play in the half on a bounce shot after Dom Madonna made a good save on a sharp angle shot from Mikie Schlosser at the other end of the field.
Denver switched up their offense, sitting John Grant Jr., who hasn’t scored in the tournament, though he has several key assists. Grant took back his coaching duties, but Denver might want to put him back on the field Saturday. He provides a settling presence behind the net, and though he’s known for his scoring, his passing ability can’t be undervalued. His superior field vision is an asset. Denver might also want to think about running with Christian Knight, the only veteran goalie on the squad, instead of switching to Nick Washuta at halftime as has been the game plan so far. Denver was down at the half, but Knight was playing well, having stopped 10 of 16 shots. Switching goalies when one is playing well, in a playoff game, would be a risky move.
In the third, Boston outscored Denver 3-1. Ryan Lee had the Outlaws’ only goal, scoring an NLL-style wraparound goal. Frank Brown, who was on fire for the Cannons, later caught a pass from Randy Staats and flipped the ball past Washuta while facing backward for the play of the game, and maybe the season.
— Major League Lacrosse🥍 (@MLL_Lacrosse) July 25, 2020
Denver started the fourth down 9-5, well aware their undefeated streak was in jeopardy. They scored three in a row: James Burr outmuscled a defender, Daniel Bucaro went with a low-to-high shot and Jack Jasinski scored on the run, but Boston still lead 9-7. Staats made another great pass, to Reilly O’Connor who was on Washuta’s crease, for a 10-7 lead. Boston then did a great job keeping possession away from the Outlaws who only managed one more goal.
Saturday’s semi-final could be won by either team. Prior to Friday, we’d have said Denver was a shoo-in. Boston’s victory gives them a mental edge going into the game, however, and it seems like their attackmen are really starting to gel together. If Staats, Brown and Wasserman can have another electric game then Denver’s young squad is going to have to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Cannons.