If the Boston Cannons have a kryptonite, it has been the one-goal game. Through 12 contests entering Saturday, they had been involved in seven one-goal affairs, winning only twice.
So with Boston clinging to a one-goal lead Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium against the Florida Launch, the Cannons’ playoff hopes on life support, the hosts needed a big stop.
Florida had momentum as it tried to rally from a five-goal deficit. Boston’s offense was slowed without leading scorer Paul Rabil, who missed the second half with a right foot injury.
With 30 seconds remaining, the Launch held possession deep in the Cannon end of the field. But with a return to the playoffs still within reach, goaltender Jordan Burke dug deep for his biggest save of the year.
Burke logged 16 saves, none more crucial than on a point-blank shot by Florida’s Kieran McArdle with six seconds remaining, as the Cannons kept their playoff hopes alive with a 16-15 victory over the Launch.
Three teams entered Saturday vying for the fourth and final spot in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs. Boston’s win kept the Cannons (6-7) a game behind the Ohio Machine for the final postseason berth. Florida (5-8) was eliminated when Ohio (7-6) beat Rochester Saturday night.
Boston needs an Ohio loss next Saturday against the Launch, plus a win of its own against Rochester, to make the playoffs.
“It’s about time we dig one out,” said Cannons attack Will Manny. “Especially without Paul in the second half. That was huge. We had guys step up. It was a playoff game for us.”
After two quick goals to start the fourth quarter, Boston watched as a 15-10 lead dwindled to two goals.
Brent Adams scored to give the Cannons breathing room, which turned out to be vital as Florida midfielder Casey Powell answered 14 seconds later and McArdle followed with a goal of his own.
The Cannons won the ensuing faceoff, but turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 41 seconds to go. After a timeout, the Launch rifled a shot wide of Burke, but maintained possession with under 10 seconds on the clock.
McArdle made a bid for a goal over the top of Burke, but the Brown University product swallowed the tying bid.
“I was just trying to hold my ground,” Burke said of his critical save. “Trying to stay as big as possible and take away any angle he had.”
Powell (four goals, four assists) led the comeback attempt for the Launch.
Boston's Stephen Berger scored his first of four goals 17 seconds in when Rabil found him streaking through the middle. Kevin Buchanan and defenseman Kyle Sweeney also found the net as the Cannons built a 3-0 lead 1:57 into the game.
The Cannons notched the final four of the first quarter — including Buchanan’s 30th — as the hosts held a 7-2 lead.
The Cannons took the field for the second half with a 10-5 advantage, but took a hit when Rabil emerged with a boot on his right foot and sat out the remainder of the game.