To recap a monumental decade of pro lacrosse, Pro Lacrosse Talk enlisted members of the lacrosse community to recount the top moments in pro lacrosse from 2010 to 2019. This article was published as part of the “Top Pro Lacrosse Moments of the Decade” series.
Nothing compares to a championship atmosphere. In 2011, I was afforded the opportunity to witness two lacrosse championships: Virginia’s upset win over Maryland in the NCAA title game and the Boston Cannons’ first and only MLL Championship.
There’s nothing quite like a crowd at M&T Bank during Memorial Day weekend and Dom Starsia and the Cavaliers’ improbable win is certainly a memory I’ll never forget. Yet, there was something equally special about the Boston Cannons’ 2011 MLL title run.
The crowd was much smaller at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but the stakes never felt lower because of it. The more intimate crowd was just as fired up. Despite the Cannons entering the playoffs as the top seed, in the semi-finals they faced a Bayhawks team that was a year removed from their franchise’s third title and playing in front of their home crowd.
Boston got off to a slow start and went down 6-1 to the defending champions, but turned it around in the second and third quarters. Thanks to a go-ahead goal from Ryan Boyle, the Cannons eventually took control and lead 13-10 with under four minutes left in the game.
However, a late surge by Kyle Dixon and the Bayhawks tied the game at 13-13. With four seconds left in the game, the Cannons forced a turnover and sent a cross-field pass to Max Quinizani who’s last-second shot trickled in to send the Cannons to the title game.
The Cannons championship bout against the Hamilton Nationals was equally dramatic and featured the likes of Casey Powell, Brodie Merrill and Geoff Snider in their prime. The game was back and forth throughout with the Cannons attempting to pull away, but the Nationals continued to answer.
Finally, Kevin Buchanan gave the Cannons a late two-goal lead. Cody Jamieson would bring Hamilton within a goal, but a couple late saves by eventual game MVP Jordan Burke helped the Cannons hold on to win the franchise’s first title.
I remember the Cannons’ celebration after. As a 17-year-old, I was hoping to get some used gear from the players after the game (and was fortunate to have Boston defender Brian Farrell toss me his stick—a Brine Edge head on a Swizzbeat shaft.) Yet, as I saw the Cannons celebrate I really began to appreciate what a monumental season it was for the franchise.
To start, it was the second MVP season in three years for Paul Rabil who had entered the league in 2009 and it was the first of his eventual two MLL championships.
It was also Bill Daye’s final year as the Cannons head coach. Daye had coached the Cannons since 2006 and was with the organization since its inception as the team’s all-star goalie from 2001 to 2002 and an assistant in 2005. The October following the Cannons championship win, Daye would step down as head coach, but would do so at the pinnacle of his coaching career.
Overall, it was a storybook ending to a stellar season and one I was fortunate to witness first-hand.
Watch the highlights of the 2011 MLL Championship below to relive the Boston Cannons’ first MLL title.