The Boston Cannons haven't made anything easy during the week-long MLL season. Boston won two of its first three games by two goals in come-from-behind fashion. Their only loss was also by two after a furious comeback late. Those two wins gave the Cannons a chance to wrap up a playoff berth on Thursday night against the Connecticut Hammerheads.
Boston led by three at halftime, and looked destined for a waltz into the playoffs this weekend. Unfortunately what happened next was rather stunning. The Cannons' offense went silent in the second half, and the Hammerheads pulled off a huge 11-8 upset.
Now, Boston (2-2) will face Denver Friday night (7 P.M.). Connecticut (2-2) is facing Chesapeake at 4 P.M. A Hammerheads win hands Boston a playoff spot even before they take the field. A Hammerheads loss also puts Boston in based on tie breaking procedures. A loss by both teams would put Connecticut in over the Cannons.
While the scenarios aren't dire, having a playoff spot come down to the final day of the season is simply unnecessary stress.
If not for Connecticut goalie Sean Sconone (22 saves) this one would've been over after one quarter. Sconone was incredible all night, but he made seven of his 15 first half saves in the first quarter.
Boston got on the board first on a goal from Frank Brown less than four minutes in. The Cannons controlled possession and had some great looks to try and expand the lead early but Sconone stood tall.
The Hammerheads tied the game at 1-1 with 4:33 to go in the quarter.
The second quarter was easily the best of the week so far for Boston. Goals from Challen Rogers and John Uppgren made it 3-1. The Cannons suffered a tough loss when face-off guy Kevin Riesman tweaked his hamstring and Nate Farrell took over. Farrell was serviceable, and Reisman tried to give it a go later but was clearly hindered.
Still, a great ride from Mark Cockerton led to an easy quick-stick goal for Reilly O'Connor to make it 4-1. A backhand laser from Kyle Jackson with 4:23 left in the half pushed it to 5-1. Connecticut got one late to cut it to 5-2 at the half, but the Cannons seemed completely in control.
Completely in control soon turned to "uh oh" as the Boston offense went quiet in the third quarter. That was due in large part to continued stellar play from Sconone, but it was also self inflicted. Passes were hitting the ground far too often. The rides weren't as intense, and it seemed as if the Cannons were simply waiting for the Hammerheads to pack it in.
Instead Connecticut scored the first two goals in the third to cut it to 5-4. A man up roof job from Jackson made it 6-4 with 8:31 remaining in the third. That's when all hell started to break loose for Boston.
Connecticut tied the game at 6-6 heading to the third, and then took a 7-6 lead in the first minute of the fourth. Bryce Wasserman charged around from X and let a laser go to make it 7-7, but the CT run continued.
The Hammerheads won a ground ball battle near the Cannons crease and popped in an easy goal to go up 8-7. Two more goals sandwiched in between Cannons turnovers made it 10-7 with 5:56 remaining. Another man up conversion - this time from Wasserman - cut it to 10-8 with 4:35 to go.
That's as close as Boston would get, as Sconone and the Hammerhead defense closed things out. Cannons' goalie Nick Marrocco left the cage with less than a minute left to apply pressure on the ball and the Hammerheads added an empty netter for the 11-8 finish.
THOUGHTS AND WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The droughts that the Cannons offense has gone through at times this week are extremely puzzling. It's clear they have one of the most talented attack groups in the league too. Depending on Reisman's health they also have one of the best face off guys.
Still, there hasn't been a sustained run for this offense yet aside from the second quarter on Thursday night.
Marrocco continues to be a stud in the cage, and there's no reason to believe that will be any different. Ideally, Connecticut finds a way to upset Chesapeake on Friday afternoon so Boston is stress free entering the Denver game. But the way things have gone that's probably not going to happen.
No matter what happens, live sports are welcomed with open arms this week. The MLL has done a hell of a job and the product all week has been outstanding. Cannons fans should be proud of the product they've put on the field.