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Boston Cannons open season against New York Lizards

Returning core eyes a run at title

Paul Rabil recorded 72 points last season.

Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Paul Rabil recorded 72 points last season.

The Boston Cannons took home all three scoring titles last season, with Paul Rabil setting a Major League Lacrosse points record (72), Matt Poskay pacing the league in goals (38), and Ryan Boyle tops in assists (39).

However, after a 9-5 regular season and a loss in the semifinal round of the playoffs to Chesapeake, the Cannons missed out on the one title they desired most.

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They open this season on Sunday in New York against the revamped Lizards.

“Were taking it week by week and we’re focused on New York right now,” said Cannons second-year coach Steve Duffy. “But ultimately, our hopes are to be playing during Championship Weekend in Philadelphia.”

Along with Rabil, Poskay, and Boyle, Boston brought back much of its core, including Mike Stone, Ari Sussman, Chris Eck, Kevin Buchanan, and goalie Jordan Burke as it looks to regain its 2011 championship form.

“We’ve got great core guys at every position and we’ve got great leadership,” said Stone, who had 22 goals and six assists last season. “It helps that we have the best player to ever play the game [Rabil], but we’ve also got some balance, and this group of guys genuinely looks forward to playing together.”

The Cannons will begin the season with five players on the inactive list while they compete in the indoor playoffs: Rabil, Buchanan, Kyle Sweeney, Mitch Belisle, and Pat Heim.

They’ll also be without longtime midfielder JJ Morrissey, who retired in the offseason.

“We’ll miss having him around,” Duffy said. “He was a great locker room guy. You don’t replace a guy like Morrissey, but I think that we’ve got guys that can fill the shoes that he’s left.”

The roster has some new faces, including midfielder Brent Adams, who was acquired from Chesapeake for a fifth-round pick in 2014, and Colin Briggs, who arrived from Charlotte in exchange for a second-rounder in 2014.

Adams had two points in six games for the Bayhawks last season, but has been impressive this preseason.

“Adams really blew the coaches away with his athleticism and his speed and the way he plays the game,” said Cannons GM Kevin Barney. “He’s fun to watch on both offense and defense. We think he’ll really help us get up the field and create problems for other teams.”

Briggs is a dynamic scorer.

“He had a great college career,” said Stone. “He’s a big guy, shoots it really well, and is unselfish and fun to play with.”

Burke is back in net, and healthy after playing much of last season with a broken thumb. He ranked third in MLL with an 11.26 goals-against average last season. Boston also added veteran backup goaltender Mike Gabel.

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