6/26/13 12:00 AM
The Boston Cannons (3-5) will attempt to stretch their two-game winning streak to three when they travel to Ohio to battle the Machine (1-7) on Saturday, June 29. With just six games left, the Cannons must remain focused as one more loss could mean the season will not extend to the playoffs.
While Ohio has been the worst team in the league this season record-wise, it is no indication of what might happen on Saturday, as they hired new head coach Bear Davis over the weekend. Davis experienced great success at the collegiate level; he started a Division I lacrosse program at Robert Morris University and, over the course of seven years, the team climbed to an NCAA national ranking.
While the head coaching change has made it difficult for Boston to predict how the Machine will perform on Saturday, one thing is clear: their offense is scary.
“They have an excellent attack,” said Coach John Tucker. “They have very dangerous guys like [Steele] Stanwick and [Joe] Cummings who have tremendous individual skill, so that’s a big concern for us.”
Under Coach Tucker, the Cannons are 2-0 and heading in the right direction, but if Boston is to contend with the likes of Denver and Hamilton, improvements are a must.
“We started slow once again, which is troubling, but the guys played with effort and focus and we got better defensively as the game wore on.”
Tucker praised the specialty positions, including goalie Jordan Burke and Chris Eck, who last Friday won 57% of face-offs against league-leading faceoff man Greg Gurenlian of the New York Lizards. He also gave credit to the rookies, who have helped revitalize the Cannons.
“Each has done a great job in their respective roles,” said Tucker. “Cam Flint is very versatile and is an old-school, throw-back middie who you can plug in anywhere and feel comfortable. Manny is very quick and presents matchup problems. The most underrated part of his game, though, is his vision. Scott Ratliff we’ve asked to play close defense and he has a tough-minded attitude. He has kept opposing players off the scoreboard.”
Tucker says that while the first-years are a very quiet and calm group in the locker room, they play like veterans out on the field.
“They’ve been fantastic. It’s been a joy to watch the young and old come together. Although we’re still relying on our veterans, it’s been nice for them to come in and alleviate some issues.”
While part of Boston’s recent success can certainly be attributed to the rookies, established stars such as Paul Rabil, Ryan Boyle, and Matt Poskay continue to lead.
“We can’t win a championship without [Poskay’s] production. It depends a lot on how they defend him. Sometimes they shut him off with a pole, sometimes they shut him off with a short stick, but if they’re not sliding, he’ll be active in a different way, like Rabil was in Charlotte.”
The Cannons swept the Machine last year, but this is the first meeting this season. Ohio is last in shots, shot percentage, and shots on goal. Stanwick, a 2013 MLL All-Star, and Cummings are tied for twentieth in the league with 17 points. Ohio is also at the bottom in face-off win percentage (41%), so Eck (53%) and the Cannons will look to exploit that aspect of the game.
While the Machine have struggled mightily this season, the Cannons cannot afford to overlook them because if anyone knows what a new head coach can do for a team, it’s the Cannons. Bear Davis will be trying to prove himself and so will his team.
“The guys are going to try real hard for him to make a good first impression. They’re going to get it together, but we hope it’s not this week,” said Tucker.
Watch the Cannons at 7:30 pm EST on Comcast SportsNet New England to see if the streak continues!