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  Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Cannons Embrace Team Concept
By Paul Noonan

     Major League Lacrosse (MLL) has been up in the air because of the addition of four new teams.  The resulting franchise draft left all MLL teams looking a little different and a little more balanced. 

The Cannons, who had been a league powerhouse the previous two years, didn’t want the draft to ruin their success.  So far it hasn’t.  Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Cannons are in first place in the Eastern Conference and are again a threat for the title.  Their success has hinged both on a balanced attack and a strong defense.

             

     When the Cannons were deciding whom to keep free from the franchise draft, one of the top names was goalie Chris Garrity.  That was a wise choice.  Garrity is third in the league in both goals-against average and save percentage.  In a game against fellow Eastern powerhouse Philadelphia, Garrity let up a nearly unheard of five goals.  The game ended up being called on account of inclement weather, which was unfortunate, because Garrity was close to the MLL record of 33 saves in a game.  He had 29 before it got called just before the fourth quarter.  It is Garrity’s performances that have kept Philadelphia at bay and has allowed Boston to hold the Conference lead.  Philly’s only two losses have been to Boston.  That ensures the Cannons first place, even if they finish tied with Philly’s won-lost record. 

             

     On defense, Cannon’s Captain Ryan Curtis has again been a reliable force.  Curtis got a lot of help from fellow defenseman Chris Passavia, who was an MLL All-Star again this season.  He’s been the second big cog in the Cannons’ defensive unit.  His 23 ground balls rank him fifth in the league. 

Perhaps the Cannons’ strongest area, though, is their midfield.  Two of their midfielders, Chris Fiore and Mike Battista, have been producing on both sides of the field.  Fiore’s 17 goals ranks third among all of the midfielders in the league; his 17 also leads the team.  Battista’s 9 rank him 21st. 

The Cannons are not lacking offensively either.  Conor Gill is the second-highest scorer in the league with 40 points.  An All-Star again, Gill is leading the league in assists with 21, and he is tied for first among attack men with three 2- point goals. 

     While his main target from last year, Mark Millon, is long gone, Gill has been getting help from sophomore attack Jonathan Christmas.  Christmas is in the top ten among attack men in the league for goals, assists, and points.  Attack David Evans (6G- 15A- 21 Pts) has also been doing his part – he ranks in the top 20 in the same three categories.

             

     The Cannons may not have the attack they had a year a go, but as a team, they are still to be feared.  They sit atop their division; their remaining games will be against teams with .500 records or less.  These games won’t be walkovers since they are against conference rivals, but they all can be won. The Cannons have proven they can handle some of the best the West can offer too, as they have beaten second-place San Francisco already this season. 

     Last year, the Cannons were more of an offensive team; the year before they tried to win more with defense.  Now, the Cannons are defined as a complete team, with everyone doing their part all over the field.  There are plenty of individual talents to go along with the teamwork, which will keep opponents on their toes. 

     Once again, the Cannons look like a legitimate threat to win the championship.  This time they hope to get there together and win it together.     



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