The Rochester Rattlers were the worst team in Major League Lacrosse last season, winning just two games, both of them against a then slumping Denver Outlaws. However, when the Boston Cannons face Rochester on opening day, they won't be a push over.
Rochester returned to the MLL scene last season. The current Hamilton Nationals used to be the Rattlers, but when the Chicago Machine wanted to relocate, they brought back the Rattlers. The transition was tough for this rebuilding team, but they look a lot stronger in year two.
They are led by runner up MLL MVP of 2011, Ned Crotty, who also won a national Championship with Duke in 2010. He also plays on the NLL's Philadelphia Wings, so despite his young age, this junior player is a top five player in all of lacrosse.
Behind him will be a very talented and young roster. Tim Fallon is one with Boston ties, playing with the Boston Rockhoppers this winter. Martin Cahill is also from the Boston area. Jordan MacIntosh has had a huge year as a rookie with the Minnesota Swarm, and will be playing midfield this season in Rochester.
Other names like Brian Caufield (Kentucky Stickhorses), Jay Card (Minnesota Swarm) and Joel White (Rochester Knighthawks) prove a young roster laden with talent. Likely the youngest team in the league, they will bring a lot of speed and skill to the table.
John Galloway in net is the former Syracuse netminder. Last season he stepped up big the Rattlers two wins, and is ready to make the leap in his second season. However, he will face a very heavy Cannons offense.
Looking to defend their title this season, I expect the Cannons to win their opener against a team like Rochester. But this won't be an automatic victory like it may have been last season. With two new expansion teams with good rosters, this might be the toughest MLL season ever. Watch tomorrow for a game preview.
For more pro lacrosse, read In Lax We Trust.