The Boston Cannons, one of Major League Lacrosse's founding teams back in 2001, finally captured their first league title late Sunday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland.
Thanks to an excellent team effort, the Cannons defeated the Hamilton (ON) Nationals 10-9. Unlike Saturday's semifinal match, where they were five goals behind after the first quarter, the Cannons had all cylinders firing right away. Attackman Ryan Boyle scored the game's first goal with help from the popular Paul Rabil nearly two minutes into play. The Nationals answered soon after with two goals in a row to take their only lead of the game.
Cannons goalie Jordan Burke stepped up after a rough outing Saturday to keep the Nationals many big names from increasing that lead, allowing last year's league MVP Matt Poskay to score two goals in a row to put the Cannons ahead. The Nationals allowed the Cannons a lot of time to set up shots, and didn't put as much pressure on the Cannons' attack as the Chesapeake Bayhawks had in the semifinals. Thanks to Poskay finishing a first half hat trick, the Cannons took an easy 6-3 lead into the second half.
The Nationals came out stronger in the second half, and out scored three goals on the Cannons in the third period, bringing themselves within two. Lacrosse legend Casey Powell scored for Hamilton a minute into the fourth quarter, cutting the Cannons lead to just one point. Nine minutes went by without scoring by either side, until midfielder Pat Heim scored an unassisted goal to give the Cannons a two goal cushion - but that didn't last long. Brodie Merrill - who was named the league's defensive player of the year for the sixth straight season this past week - made an offensive impact seconds later, bringing the Nationals back within one.
Attackman Kevin Buchanan took matters into his own hands, scoring an diving goal across Hamilton goalie Brett Queener (who plays for Boston's indoor lacrosse team in the winter) to secure the Cannons win.
"It's unbelievable," coach Bill Daye, who has been trying for a championship win since he joined the franchise back in 2001, told Inside Lacrosse writer Kyle Devitte after the win. "I can't wait to get back in the locker room, hug my guys again, and celebrate."