When it comes to drawing faceoffs in Major League Lacrosse, there is nobody better at the grueling, gritty challenge than Cannons specialist Chris Eck.
Eck asserted his dominance Saturday, winning 19 of 24 draws to spark Boston’s offense in a 14-6 victory over the Charlotte Hounds before 10,386 at Harvard Stadium.
The Cannons (2-2) controlled the possession battle from the start and the offense benefited greatly, generating 25 shots as eight players scored a goal.
Paul Rabil led the way with a hat trick, while Will Manny, Stephen Berger, Owen Blye, and Kevin Buchanan added two goals each. Goalie Jordan Burke made 10 saves.
“Possessions are key, they’re at a premium,” Cannons coach John Tucker said. “It makes an unbelievable difference for our offense to keep getting the ball back. [Eck] was great. He was really on a roll tonight.”
For Eck, who was named the US national team’s faceoff specialist in February, the key was executing his first move cleanly as soon as the whistle sounded.
“I was feeling my first move, it’s nice when you can feel the whistle and get the cadence down,” Eck said. “Clamp down, just try to pinch it in there and run with it. I had some great wing guys helping me out on the ones I didn’t get clean.”
On the rare occasion Eck lost a faceoff, he was quick to chase down Charlotte specialist Tim Fallon and check the ball loose.
“You kind of have a never-die mentality,” Eck said. “For me, it’s not a win until we have possession. Even if he beats me on a break, if I can stop him, even if that number doesn’t go in our book, it’s a real win for me.”
The Cannons built their lead in the opening 30 minutes and held an 8-3 lead at halftime, piling on five goals in the second quarter.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, Rabil scored just 49 seconds into the second on a crafty lefthanded shot. Manny and Ryan Boyle followed, notching goals at the 3:59 and 7:07 mark, respectively, to stretch the lead to 6-1.
Charlotte (1-3) finally answered with 6:09 to play in the first half, when Joe Cummings beat Burke to cut the Cannons’ lead to 6-2.
But the Cannons were quick to strike down Charlotte’s momentum, as Buchanan and Rabil added goals 50 seconds apart to build an 8-2 lead.
The Cannons offense continued to flourish in the third quarter, as Berger, Buchanan, and Blye increased the lead to 11-3, and they never looked back.
Buchanan continued his torrid scoring streak, pushing his goal total to a league-leading 14.
“It’s a work in progress, our offensive side, but it was nice to see us share the ball and everybody contributed,” Tucker said.
Tucker and the Cannons were happy to snap a two-game skid.
After beating the defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks in the season opener, the Cannons stumbled with back-to-back one-goal losses to Rochester and Denver.
“You always wonder what it’s going to be like. We have a bunch of winners on this team and guys responded positively,” Tucker said. “They were very anxious to get back out there.”Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.