A week removed from a 17-12 loss to the Hamilton Nationals that dropped the Cannons into fifth place in the Major League Lacrosse standings with two games remaining, Boston’s struggles continued with a 16-12 loss to the Ohio Machine Saturday at Harvard Stadium that knocked the Cannons out of playoff contention.
The Cannons (5-8) came out slow, falling behind, 10-2, midway through the second quarter, and failed to resurrect any of the spark that led to a four-game winning streak prior to the All-Star break that transported a team that came out of the gate 1-5 into one with legitimate playoff aspirations.
“Ohio played well,” said Cannons coach John Tucker. “They deserved to win. I thought we got off to another slow start. We changed our warm-up from what it was in other games [to try to fix that]. But again, it’s tough when you come out and fall into such a big hole.”
The loss, which came in front of a crowd of 8,701, was the third in a row for the Cannons, whose dreams of returning to the playoffs ended when the Charlotte Hounds beat Hamilton, 14-11, Saturday night to secure fourth place in the standings.
The Machine held Paul Rabil, who entered the game leading MLL in points with 49, off the scoreboard thanks in large part to the work of goalie Scott Rodgers (22 saves).
The goose-egg on the scoring sheet was Rabil’s second of the season — his first came at Charlotte on June 15.
“Rodgers was great,” said Tucker, who is 4-3 since taking over as coach midway through the season. “I thought he was very good for not playing in a while. He stepped up. I think we helped a little bit with shot selection, but I was really impressed with his effort.”
Rabil dismissed his poor offensive showing as bad luck.
“I probably got better shots and set up teammates for better shots than I have in most games, we just didn’t score,” Rabil said. “It has nothing to do with the way they played me. Rodgers made 22 saves, so he certainly saw the ball well out of my stick and saved a lot of the guys that I set up.”
Ohio (2-11), which sits in eighth place, entered Saturday’s game last in the league in ground balls (285), shots (462), and shot percentage (22.3) but showed no signs of weakness, finishing the game with a 37-26 edge in ground balls and 41 shots.
Machine attackman Logan Schuss, a favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award, did not disappoint, tallying a game-high six points (four goals) in the win.
The Canadian lefthander now has 33 points on the season and leads all rookies with 27 goals.
Cannons goaltender Jordan Burke struggled, stopping only 12 shots on net, while Will Manny led Boston’s offense with three goals and an assist.
The Cannons managed to close the gap to three at the 9:17 mark in the fourth, but could never recover from their early hole.