MLL Championship Weekend: Boston Cannons Win Steinfeld Cup

2011 MLL champs - Boston Cannons
Cannons Win! Cannons WIn! - Harry Caray

The Boston Cannons finally broke through their playoff blunder barrier and won their first MLL Championship.  They dominated the regular season with the face of the league, Paul Rabil, leading the way, and in the playoffs they switched it up (out of necessity) and were still able to pull of two very close victories; over the Bayhawks in the semi-finals, and the Hamilton Nationals in the finals.  I’ll break down the Championship Game and the major story lines one by one below:

Paul Rabil (and the Cannons) win First-ever MLL Championship

Let’s get to the Rabil issues right away.  On twitter yesterday, people were going OFF on Rabil for “not delivering” in the big games.  I’m not even going to link to it.  If you’re on twittlez, you know I’m right.  Even the announcers (Joe Beninati and Quint) were saying how Rabil still wasn’t on the scoresheet halfway through the game, when in reality, he notched the first assist of the game.  But that’s right, Joe, assists don’t count.  Oh wait, they DO!  Both the Bayhawks and Hamilton paid a LOT of attention to Rabil all day, and that changes how a player plays.

Now cue the Kobe vs. Lebron comparison that Quint made yesterday during the broadcast.  AWFUL comparison.  First of all, basketball and lacrosse are very different sports.  Yes, I know Naismith was a lacrosse coach who invented basketball, but that simply does not excuse the overused bball to lax analogy.  More often than not it is poorly used.  Rabil is NOT Kobe.  Merrill is NOT LeBron.  And Lacrosse is NOT basketball.  Do we have that straight yet?  It was easily one of the shallowest observations I’ve heard all year.

And as it turns out, it was also patently false.  The Lakers NEED Kobe to deliver, they need him to hog the ball and dominate in every single game because the rest of his team just isn’t that good.  But the Cannons simply aren’t built that way, and Quint should know better.  The Cannons have talent, in lots of places, and sharing the ball should never be a concern for them.  Quint made it seem like it would all ride on Rabil’s shoulders, or that Rabil needed to do more.  But unlike basketball, lacrosse is a TRUE team sport, and one guy simply can’t get it done by himself.  I’m shocked that with all the experience Quint has playing this game he didn’t realize this.  Oh well.

The bottom line is that other than the btb thrown about 3.5 minutes into the game, Rabil was great.  In that he did exactly what his team needed him to do, when they needed him to do it, and the Cannons won.  He pulled out of the play when needed, and let players like Boyle, Stone, Buchanan, and Heim do work as well.  He opened up the field for others, and all of those guys ended up contributing in a major way to both of their wins.

MLL_2011_Championship_Rabil Queener
This is what would have happened if Rabil had taken the ball more. Save.

Photo courtesy Laxpower and Ben Mackey

Rabil did NOT need to take the ball more.  Rabil did NOT need to force the issue more.  In fact, that’s exactly why the Cannons have lost in past.  This time, he did it right, won the big game, and everyone still gave him crap.  Poorly played, lax world.

Jake Steinfeld Haters, The Steinfeld “Cup”, and a not so big huge OOPS! Moment

People hate on Jake Steinfeld pretty hard, but give the guy his due!  He is a huge believer in lacrosse, and of course, in the MLL.  When he gets in front of the camera, he is always passionate, but people don’t seem to gravitate to him that much.  That’s a shame, because as far as league founders go, I don’t think you’ll ever find a guy who loves his game as much as Jake.  Sure, he’s a little ridiculous, but he’s also a total giver, and he’s given us the MLL, so let’s lay off Body By Jake, ok?  Even if he’s talking about glowing heads, we need to cut this guy a little slack.  It’s not a great idea, and investing in the fly-wire cameras that the NFL uses would be much better, but he’s thinking ahead and outside the box, and I appreciate that.

Plus if you didn’t have Jake Steinfeld out there, it would still only be a rumor that Rabil has signed with Warrior.  Thanks for confirming that, Jake!  Rabil is now a Warrior guy.  You heard it from 412 in May, but Jake factualized it yesterday.  How long until IL and LPG post that press release?  AmIRight?  Of course I am.

Jake announcing Rabil as a Warrior guy wasn’t news.  412 has said it before, and evidently, IL printed the news in their magazine before Championship Weekend.  So since it was news, and confirmed, I find it even MORE bizarre that Warrior/NB, the MLL and everyone else haven’t made a bigger deal out of it.  Quint didn’t even mention it.  Like I said, bizarre.  I would think this is something they’d want to publicize, and what better time than Champ weekend?

So Jake is great.  And now we all know it.  But can we get a ‘cup’ for the Steinfeld Cup?  The trophy they use right now is atrocious, but since Quint named it the “Steinfeld Cup”, can we just replace it with an actual cup?  Or glue one on top?  I don’t know… something like that.  But if you win the Champ’s Cup, you should definitely be able to drink out of it.

Casey Powell, Hamilton’s Goaltending and Joe Walters’ Disappearing Act

Casey Powell was awesome all game for the Nationals.  CP, now rocking #7 in deference to Cody Jamieson (what a class act that guy is!), led the Nats all weekend long, and was creative and exciting more often than not.  He scored 4 unassisted goals (2 of them lefty) when the Nats needed him to, and is a big reason they were able to stay in the game with Boston in the Finals.  Casey improved that team instantly, and proved just how valuable he really is, even at 35 years of age.  I think it’s safe to say we’re ALL hoping that he wasn’t seriously hurt at the end of the game when he collided with Rabes… the fans definitely want more Casey Powell in the MLL.

Casey Powell Hamilton Nationals MLL championships
Powell was a stud all weekend. So what else is new?

Photo courtesy Inside Lacrosse and Matt Kinnear (IL, Matt, John Jiloty and Kyle Devitte all did a GREAT job of reporting all weekend.  Thanks fellas!  And some great photos as well!)

I liked Scott Rodgers in goal for the Nationals.  But I see why they switched it up to Queener in the second half.  Simply put, this tactic is part of what got them to where they were, and they stuck with it.  I have a very hard time second-guessing that decision.

What happened to Joe “Snipes” Walters in the Finals?  He had a big semi-final, and then made headlines as he mocked the Denver sidelines for choking near the end of the game.  Who does that and then doesn’t show up for the big game?  Maybe Walters was more concerned with Brampton’s upcoming box game.  Totally possible.  I also don’t understand how John Lade can be suspended for playing at Placid while Walters was not, even though he’s been playing for Brampton in Major Series Lacrosse.  That’s a lot closer to pro than the LP Summit tourney.  Maybe Walters got a waiver.  That might explain it, but still… seems a little hypocritical.

I can’t see so good. Is that Harry Houdini?

Photo courtesy Hamilton Nationals

But JW1 pulling a Houdini in the Finals is still the story.  He just didn’t seem as confident initiating, and he didn’t seem to pick his head up as quickly looking to dish the ball.  But to be fair, and give him the benefit of the Rabil Doubt (see above), a lot of the explanation probably has to do with the great job of the Cannons’ D-mids did on Walters.  They made him go right, and even when he worked back to his left, they overplayed him.  It made him a one-dimensional player, and predictable.  This was one of the areas where the Cannons probably won the game most.  Eliminate Hamilton’s unpredictable offense, and you can slow them down.  The Cannons did just that by focusing on Walters.  But I really thought Joe would bring a little more to the table in the Finals.  He just seemed SO pumped after the Semifinal win.  And if he didn’t I thought others like Jordan Hall and Jeremy Thompson would get more looks.

Mike Stone Proves That D-III players can play with the Best of the Rest

Do you know who Mike Stone is?  If you watched the MLL playoffs and were paying even a small amount of attention, that answer should be yes.  Stone was a HS All-American at Wellesley HS in Massachusetts and then went on to Middlebury College in VT where he was 2x NESCAC player of the year (’08 and ’09) and could easily have been named player of the year in either season.  Well, this weekend, he got a bunch of good looks in the Semis while running with Rabil, and then scored a couple sweet goals in the Finals.  Stone looked awesome all weekend, and definitely proved just how good DIII lax truly is.  Combine him with guys like Eric Martin, Kyle Hartzell and Stephen Berger, and the proof is right there in the pudding.  DIII lax is legit.  Is it Crotty/Rabil/Merrill good?  No, but it’s closer than most D1 guys would like to admit!

Mike Stone at Middlebury versus Cortland.
Mike Stone at Middlebury versus Cortland.

Photo courtesy

Jordan Burke Will take an MLL Championship over Goalie of the Year any day!

A lot of people, mostly Boston fans, were outraged that Burke lost out on Goalie of the Year for the MLL to Drew Adams of Long Island.  Seriouly, who cares?  Burke has a Championship ring from this season and won Finals MVP.  Can we drop this conversation now?  And no, at no point should he have been pulled for Kip Turner.  You can’t say he is the best goalie in the league AND then say he should get pulled for Turner.  Consistency.  Get some.

Final Thoughts

The MLL Playoffs were GREAT.  At least from the safety of my couch anyway.  The rain and wind on Saturday was insane, but the guys played through it and came out looking tough and professional.  The league looks like they know the weather as well as anyone, since they were pretty solid on playing the games no matter what, but I still think that was a risky move.  Sure, it worked out well, but disaster was just around the corner.  Luck was their Lady that night!

The level of skill and play has never been higher.  The reffing, while still questionable at times, was actually some of the best I’ve seen in the league.  The venue was great, the fans that did make it out were into it big time, and the TV broadcast was really solid.  Overall, it was a great weekend of lacrosse, and another big step in the right direction for the MLL.  I would have liked to see them be more proactive with weather announcements, but overall, things are definitely looking up!

2011 MLL champs - Boston Cannons
Cannons Win! Cannons WIn! – Harry Caray


  1. as far as quint and joe b’s comments on Rabil “not showing up”: from the team aspect, Rabil took Brodie Merrill out of the game because of the attention he requires, thats HUGE. with Brodie spending his time on Rabil the rest of the cannons were free to work, no reason to complain there. 
    i believe that Quint’s frustration comes from the lack of “Rabil moments” in the game. Quint is one of many who believe that for lacrosse to expand it will require someone to be the face of lacrosse. Rabil is obviously that guy, but he needs to perform on the biggest stage. The Championship game is one of the rare games on ESPN and that is where Rabil needs to draw attention. 

    • re: your second point –
      great thoughts.  And very true.  But I guess that begs the question, since lax is such a team game, should the MLL have A guy they go to?  Or should the focus be spread out to more players?  BBall has Kobe, Lebron, the Celtics, DWade, Durant… why can’t lax?

      • Because sports which are obscure to the mainstream need one person which people can associate the game with. a good example of this is misty may or even lance armstrong. My main point is that some people still have never seen a game of lacrosse. One person with whom they can associate lacrosse with is whats necessary. 5 people  sharing the spot light is spreading it too thin (as much as i dont like to believe it). 

        • have to disagree with you there my friend!
          Who is Misty May?
          And what happens when Lance gets caught doping with EPO?  I’d be hesitant to put all my eggs in one basket.  Even a sport like snowboarding, with a star like White has other stars.  And I’m not sure Rabil is as dominant an athlete as White is… OR Lance Armstrong.

          The MLL should maybe just be what they are… a collection of awesome team players.  And not try to emulate the NBA with superstars.  Just a thought.  Appreciate the feedback though!  Awesome stuff!

  2. People (myself included) tend to jump on Rabil because he carries himself like he walks on water which is fine. You just have to be willing to walk on water when the game’s best defenseman is covering you on the biggest stage. 

    No one expects him to score 5 goals a game. But if he’s as athletic and as unstoppable as we are led to believe, shouldn’t we expect more than two helpers regardless of the slide package?

    Side bar, how many on the run jump shots from 15 did he settle for yesterday?

    • See that’s the thing… I don’t think anyone is unstoppable in this day and age.  Gait used to be, MP was in college, and some guys seem like they are from time to time.  Maybe that’s just an overstatement when it comes to his marketing then.

      He settled for a couple shots that weren’t great, but it didn’t ruin the flow of the Cannons offense and may have kept Hamilton more honest throughout the game.  Overall, I thought Rabil played well, but it was clearly players like Boyle, Poskay, Sweeney and Burke who shone brightest.

  3. I think a lot of the “Rabil not showing up” stems from all the marketing attempts to elevate him above the many other player in the MLL.  As a total outsider to MLL, Rabil was largely invisible during the game and after watching some many Rabil hype videos and Rabil spreads in Inside Lacrosse, it was a  disappointment.  Maybe the marketing types need to rethink their strategy or maybe the defense on him was too good.

    On the other hand, Casey Powell was really visible.  Just outstanding work near the goal to keep the Nationals in the game. 

    The Rabil story line is” well they won”, so he was great.  I wonder what it would have read if they had lost.  I am not saying he isn’t outstanding, just he is not living up to the hype.

  4. I disagree with the comments about Kobe… while the Lakers do need him to be “the guy”, they didn’t win any championships with “just him,” the recent ones were just without Shaq.  Kobe still has to be the playmaker, and he draws a lot of attention, freeing up Gasol, Odom, Bynum, etc.  How is this different than what Rabil did?  Or, for that matter, Stanwick in the NCAA championship, where Steele directed traffic and allowing everyone else to play while being essentially shut off.  You said “The Cannons have talent, in lots of places, and sharing the ball should never be a concern for them.”  Kobe has the same thing going for him with the Lakers.  And like any team in any sport, when the other players aren’t clicking, things don’t work.  Fortunately for the Cannons, the “other” players were great this weekend.  Also, you are correct in saying that Brodie is not LeBron, because that comparison just does not make much sense.

    • you said it yourself… Kobe HAS to be the playmaker.  That means he needs the ball to at least cycle through him at some point.  While in lacrosse, players like Stanwick and Rabil can affect play greatly while being shut off.  Shut off Kobe and the Lakers fall to pieces.  KB, PR and SS all draw a lot of attention, but a 5 on 5 on a lax field is much more spread than 4 on 4 on a bball court IMO.  And that’s where the big difference lies…
      I can see the similarity, no question, but it’s just not that helpful of an analogy to me.  The differences are more than they originally appear.

  5. The Championship was this weekend?!?!?  Freakin’ missed it..

    Yeah right, DVR’d the semis and the Finals. 

    Your read was pretty spot on…

    I did hold my breath every time Rabil got the ball thinking he would dodge and just fly past the D, but Hamilton kinda had his number.  He did try a number of shots from the 2 Point area, but I really thought he could have taken it in a little closer and made the 1 pointer. 

    CP was the man… no questions asked, by far the GAME MVP in my opinion.  This was the first time that I really got to watch him play… other than YouTube, and he seriously has game.  Enough for me to say that he should have been on Paul Jones’ list for sure!

    JWalters… Just as dangerous a Rabil… from the shooting aspect, but just like you said, Boston knew how to limit him.  BUT he did have CP also drawing doubles so he should have had a chance or two to get some points.

    Overall, AWESOME weekend. 

    I did read the Lacrosse Magazine recent article on the Brattons and though I love the LXMPRO… I sure would like to see them in the MLL… it would definitely change the landscape to the MLL and maybe force some more “innovation” like the lighted heads or whatever Jake was talking about.