One of the league’s most intense and storied rivalries comes to Harvard Stadium on May 18 thas the Boston Cannons host the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The amount of All-Stars, coupled with the teams’ histories, makes for one of the most anticipated matches all year. It has been a tale of two seasons this year however. The Bayhawks came screaming out of the gates with 3 straight wins, while Boston has struggled to find its identity and limps into the match-up dropping the first three games of the year, their worst start ever. The Cannons will be looking for a little revenge after the Bayhawks beat them in last year’s semi-finals. Since 2011, the Bayhawks are 2-4 against Boston.
The Bayhawks roll into Boston with a 3-0 record in hand, but what is really impressive is how they are winning. After a fairly close season opener against the Rattlers, the Bayhawks defense seems to have found a new gear, only giving up 8 goals over two games. Kip Turner is leading the way between the pipes with a “goals against average” of 4.00, and a save percentage of .778. If that wasn’t scary enough, Ben Rubeor has found his shooting stroke early in year, already netting 12 goals. Kyle Dixon is his usual self, with 10 points already this season - three of which came from behind the two point arch, where he has been lethal the past two seasons. In their last game against Ohio, the Bayhawks looked like everyone else in the league fears they could. They scored 14 goals in just three quarters, the defense is suffocating everyone they play, and no matter who is in goal, opponents are not scoring.
The Cannons are in unfamiliar territory, starting with a 0-3 record and in desperate need of a quality win to right the ship and save the season. The Bayhawks, who look like the early team to beat in the MLL, present the opportunity for a very quality win. While their record would not indicate it, the Cannons are a dangerous team, with All-Star Paul Rabil running the offense. Rabil has 8 goals and 11 points, leading Boston on the score sheet. Ari Sussman follows him with 6 goals in just two games. Last week, Ryan Boyle reached 400 points on his career, a new MLL record, proving just how dangerous and consistent he is. The Cannons are averaging just under 10 goals a game, and will need to use that offensive power to crack the brick wall that has been the Bayhawks defense.
When asked about what he is most focused on, Coach Cottle expressed the importance of matching up well against Paul Rabil and Ryan Boyle. He also expressed that his team knows not to overlook this struggling Boston squad.
“I think our guys understand how talented these guys are. They have one of the best offensive players in the league and maybe the best attackmen to ever play the game. They got some guys back and played much better against Denver” said Cottle.
As far as corrections from last week, Cottle just wants continued and steady improvement going into Saturday.