The City of Champions has its 14th title since 2001.
On Sunday afternoon the Boston Cannons won the second Major League Lacrosse title in franchise history with a 13-10 win over Denver. It’s the first title since 2011 for the Cannons.
The weekend was full of uncertainty, but it shouldn’t take away from what this team accomplished.
The Cannons closed out the five-game regular season on Friday beating Denver 10-8. Boston, Denver, Chesapeake and Connecticut advanced to the scheduled semifinals on Saturday, but that’s when all hell broke loose.
Early Saturday three Chesapeake Bayhawks players tested positive for COVID-19. Both Chesapeake and Connecticut chose to forfeit their semifinal matchup against each other. That left Denver and Boston in the title game if they wanted to play.
On-field temperatures read over 120 degrees at times. Boston also had five players who opted to sit after the events of Saturday, but still stunned the Outlaws.
It was two months after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 that the Cannons won their first MLL title.
Cannons Director of Marketing and Communications Chris Rucker had quite an idea based on that year.
Rucker had a bottle full of water from Quincy with him in Maryland this week. Rucker decided to pour out the water at midfield prior to the title game on Sunday. It was eerily similar to Nathan Horton dumping water on the ice in Vancouver before Game 7, and the results were the same.
WEEI on-air personality and MLL sideline reporter Courtney Fallon told the story on-air during the ESPN broadcast. I was lucky enough to be able to follow up with Rucker via email late Sunday night/early Monday morning about the whole thing.
“Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy is home to the Boston Cannons,” he said. “More than ever I thought this would be an appropriate tribute to all the fans, supporters, friends and co-workers who couldn’t be with us in Annapolis. Boston, Quincy and the surrounding communities mean so much to our team.
“I was reminded of the Nathan Horton, Bruins 2011 tribute after sharing the plan with a co-worker. I’m happy to be in the same conversation with Nathan and the Bruins.”
TRUE TEAM EFFORT
Missing some of its best offensive weaponry on Sunday in the sweltering heat, the Cannons got a true team effort.
John Uppgren – a former Tufts Jumbo – was the poster boy, coming up with a ridiculous five-goal performance. Meanwhile, Bryce Wasserman was named league MVP for the “season”. Duxbury native Nick Marrocco (15 saves) had an incredible game on Sunday in the cage to wrap up an outstanding week. Anywhere you looked there was a Cannon stepping up to get the job done.
The Cannons jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Uppgren and former UMASS Minuteman Ben Spencer. Denver rattled off four straight to go up 4-2, but goals from Uppgren and Mark Cockerton made it 4-4.
With just 1:03 left in the first Uppgren completed his natural hat trick to make it 5-4 Cannons heading to the second.
Both Marrocco and Denver goalie Christian Knight were solid, as were the defenses in the second. The Outlaws buried an early two-pointer to go back up 6-5 but it was their only goal of the frame.
With 7:48 left in the half Cockerton had a highlight reel one-handed scoop and then finish to make it 6-6. Less than a second remained in the half when Wasserman had a phenomenal feed from X out to long pole Justin Pugal. Pugal launched a two-pointer that beat the buzzer to give Boston an 8-6 halftime lead.
CLOSING IT OUT
The third quarter was all Cannons. Wasserman, Cockerton and Uppgren all scored in the first five minutes to make it 11-6. Denver had a small run in them, popping in three straight to cut it to 11-9, but Boston responded.
A lefty goal for Uppgren made it 12-9, and after a ridiculous door step save by Marrocco Kevin Riesman scored in transition to make it 13-9. The Outlaws added a late goal to make it 13-10 heading to the fourth.
The fourth quarter became the Nick Marrocco show. Marrocco was calm, cool and collected the entire final 15 minutes. The two biggest saves of the week and maybe his career came against legend John Grant Jr. with Denver pressing late.
Ultimately, Boston’s defense shut down the Outlaws before finally storming the field, sending sticks, helmets and gloves flying as the final buzzer went off.
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
People are going to try and put an asterisk next to this championship, it is what it is. Not having two of the final four teams involved is admittedly a tough look, but so what? In a year where nothing is normal and everything is fluid, the Cannons showed incredible mental toughness.
Missing guys like Randy Staats and Frank Brown the Cannons offense still looked flawless. Boston won the ground ball battle 43-41, and outshot Denver 42-35 (28-20 on goal).
Above all else, the Cannons played their asses off for the entire week basically as guinea pigs. The MLS and PLL are also running their leagues in bubbles, but the MLL was the first league to complete their season and championship.
The Cannons are bringing home another title to Boston. We can’t get the duck boats ready this time, but the uniqueness of this one should be remembered for a long, long time.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will forever be home to that Dirty Water now too.
(PHOTO USED FROM CANNONS PR DEPARTMENT)