The 4-5 Boston Cannons returned to Harvard stadium Saturday night to take on the 4-5 Charlotte Hounds in game with playoff tie-breaker implications. The Cannons came away victorious with a 17-16 overtime win.
Despite the absence of two major offensive pieces, rookie midfielder Cam Flint and veteran attacker Matt Poskay, Boston was able to get into an offensive groove early on in the contest. Perfect clears combined with quick transition enabled the Cannon offense to find their rhythm scoring just under three minutes into the game. Paul Rabil struck first on a downhill dodge with a high-to-low blast that put Boston up 1-0.
Mike Stone continued his All-Star season Saturday night; two late snipes by the midfielder in the first put the Cannons up 4-1 entering the first intermission. The two tallies were Stone’s only points on the night.
The second quarter began with a man advantage for the visiting Hounds as rookie Cannons’ attackman Will Manny was called for an illegal crosse, a penalty which resulted in a goal by veteran Matt Danowski to cut the lead to two. Not long after the Danowski goal, back-to-back goals by defensemen Brett Schmidt (two-pointer) and Ryan Flanagan pushed Charlotte to a 5-4 advantage early in the second period.
While each point in a game holds the same numerical value, Rabil's goal with 6:20 remaining in the second quarter to tie the game at six is one that holds more value than others. The point propelled the six-year Cannon veteran to first on the team's all-time scoring list passing Conor Gill. Rabil would finish the game with eight points.
The two offenses exchanged shots throughout the remainder second quarter, but a man-up goal by Kevin Buchannan with 14.6 seconds remaining in the half gave the home team a 9-7 advantage going into the break.
After two early goals in the third by Manny at 12:31 and Boyle at 11:37, it appeared that all of the momentum belonged to Boston with an 11-7 lead, however, the Hounds were able to silence the Cannons’ offensive weapons for the remainder of the quarter.
Charlotte’s offense struggled to maintain long possessions in the early parts of the game, but the third quarter showed fans the high-powered scoring unit that the Hounds relied on in the early parts of the season. A goal by Danowski was followed by back-to-back scores from Ryan Young to tie the game at 11. A highlight reel goal by goalie Adam Ghitelman with 1:33 remaining in the third completed a complete shift of momentum going into the fourth.
Ghitelman was fantastic in the game for the visiting Hounds. Along with his goal in the third quarter, the second year ball-stopper out of Virginia collected 17 saves on the 34 shots that he faced.
In fitting fashion, the fourth quarter of this matchup on the fourth of July weekend was filled with offensive fireworks. The two squads traded blow after blow, and with just over a minute left in regulation, the score was tied at 16. On this night, however, four quarters just wasn’t enough. After a pair of close scoring opportunities for both sides, the horn sounded and the two teams prepared for overtime, knowing that only one could walk away with their fifth win of the season.
After winning the opening faceoff of the extra period, Charlotte had the first opportunity to close out the game. The Cannons stingy defense was able to fight off the Hounds’ scorers and push the ball into their own offensive end, a possession that would eventually end the game. After a timeout, Rabil tossed a dime pass to newly acquired Stephen Berger who scored the game winner in his first appearance for Boston, and the Cannons’ collected win number five on the season in thrilling fashion.
With the loss, Charlotte drops to 4-6 and will not possess a playoff tie-breaker over Boston.
Both teams will have the next week off as the MLL enters its All-Star weekend in Charlotte, N.C.