Cannons

Cannons Lacrosse Club: 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Preview

2021 marks the Cannons’ first year in the PLL. After the merger between the MLL and PLL, the Cannons Lacrosse Club became the 8th team added to PLL and was the only MLL team that survived the merger. Being from Massachusetts, going to Boston Cannons games at Harvard Stadium was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. I am pumped that the Cannons are in the PLL and that they have put together a pretty good roster. They won the 2020 MLL Championship, and after three drafts, the team is pretty much complete. It wouldn’t make sense to do the additions to this team because almost every player on the team in 2021 was not on the 2020 Cannons.

Offense

Projected Attack Starters: Lyle Thompson, Ryan Drenner, Brendon Gleason. The Cannons got the first pick in the entry draft and they made the right pick in Thompson. Lyle Thompson has a good argument as the greatest lacrosse player on the planet and maybe of all time. The college lacrosse legend is the all-time leader in points with 400, the most by 17 points. Every game he played in college had at least one insane goal, and if he didn’t throw a behind the back, something was wrong. Thompson brought a new level of creativity to lacrosse, and if you have not watched his college highlights, stop reading this and go watch them. Drenner and Gleason should be salivating at having Thompson on their line. With literally all the defensive eyes on Thompson, Gleason and Drenner will have countless scoring opportunities. Canadian attackman Clarke Peterson will also see time and can provide elite inside finishing for the Cannons. I have no doubt Thompson will do his thing, but this offense’s success will be predicated on the production of the other guys.

Projected Midfield Starters: Paul Rabil, Deemer Class, Connor Buczek. Paul Rabil is back on the Cannons. The Johns Hopkins legend and former Cannons great is back in the blue and red. The PLL is such an interesting league. The co-founder in Paul Rabil is not only playing in his own league but he just got traded in the offseason. Rabil had a disappointing season for Atlas in 2020, where he scored only one goal on 19 shots. I expect Rabil to bounce back in 2021, and alongside Class and Buczek, Rabil will not have to carry the midfield unit. Rabil was an all-star in 2019 and I expect him to bounce back in 2021. I like Connor Buczek, the Cornell product and former Atlas midfielder who can dodge with both hands effectively and has a hammer from the outside. Buczek will most likely draw the LSM, giving Rabil and Class advantages short stick matchups. As for their midfield depth, they have guys like Josh Currier, Max Tuttle, and Chris Hogan. I don’t know if you know, but former NFL wide receiver Chris Hogan is playing the PLL. I have seen a post or article about Chris Hogan every damn day for the past month. I will admit I am happy for Hogan, and it is a cool story, but I am excited to see how he defenders the best midfielders in the world. It also just came out on Friday morning that Hogan will not dress for the games this weekend. Again, I am rooting for Hogan, but the guy has not played competitive lacrosse in ten years dating back to when he was at Penn State.

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Defense/ Goaltending

Projected Defensive Starters: Brodie Merrill, Jack Kielty, Justin Pugal. Brodie Merrill was the Cannons’ first pick in the expansion draft. The Canadian veteran has played professional lacrosse forever and has shown he is still an elite on-ball defender. I also like Merrill as a mentor to rookie Jack Kielty. Kielty was the ninth overall pick in the college draft and was one of the elite close defensemen in college lacrosse. I think Kielty starts from day one not only because he is equipped to start, but this team does not have a ton of depth at defense. The third starter is up in the air, and I could see either Pugal, Jake Pulver, or Holden Garlent battling for the spot.

Goalie: Nick Morroco will be the Cannons goalie for 2021. Morroco was the Cannons’ third-round pick in the entry draft and should provide some consistency in net for coach Quirk and the Cannons. He helped lead the Cannons to the MLL championship in 2020 and looks to do the same in the PLL. The other goalie on the roster is Jacob Stover. While I don’t think Stover poses a threat to Morroco, he is an above-average backup and can step in if Morroco goes down with an injury.

Face-Off

The Cannons’ face-off unit is really. Drew Simoneau was part of the Waterdogs’ one-two punch with Jake Withers, where they ranked top four in win percentage. Simoneau won 55% of his draws and has shown an ability to win face-offs at an elite level. I like the other additions they made in Tom Kelly and Brendan Fowler. Kelly won 38% of his draws in 2020, but he will not be asked to carry the load with Simoneau taking the majority of the face-offs. I probably sound like a broken record but having a competent FOGO gets you extra possessions and extra possessions win you games.

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