FOXBOROUGH — As the Cannons Lacrosse Club officially started a new chapter in the Premier Lacrosse League on Friday, the club seemed right at home while battling Redwoods Lacrosse Club at Gillette Stadium.
That was in part due to the Cannons-heavy crowd on hand, but it was also due to the way the team established itself as a formidable force from the opening faceoff. Though the Cannons ultimately fell, 12-11, to the Redwoods in a back-and-forth battle with several lead changes, they proved that they belong among the best of the best.
“We’re a new team, but we’re a talented team,” Cannons attacker Lyle Thompson said. “We’re not an expansion team. We’ve got a talented locker room.”
The PLL officially relaunched the Boston Cannons as Cannons Lacrosse Club in January. The Cannons then built a roster through the expansion draft, entry draft, college draft, trades, and waivers, and their firepower and potential was on full display in game one.
Paul Rabil, the league’s co-founder and a Cannons captain, scored three goals in the second half to highlight a 6-0 flurry that turned an 8-5 halftime deficit into an 11-8 edge with 7:46 remaining. The Redwoods responded with four unanswered goals, which soured an otherwise memorable night for the Cannons, yet they were encouraged afterward despite the setback.
“I loved how our guys competed tonight,” said Cannons coach Sean Quirk. “The energy at Gillette was tremendous. A lot of Cannons fans.”
Quirk, who guided the Boston Cannons to a 2020 championship in Major League Lacrosse, was thrilled to compete in the PLL after a long offseason of initial uncertainty followed by plenty of buildup and excitement.
Rabil said this is what fans can expect when they see a PLL game unfold in person.
He was excited to see many young fans in the crowd.
“I thought the atmosphere tonight was really great,” Rabil said. “There were a lot of momentum swings. It was really a template for how the PLL goes.”
Off to a hot start
Many consider Thompson to be the best player in the world, and he showed why Friday night in his PLL debut.
The first pick in the entry draft scored twice in a span of three minutes, helping the Cannons build an early 3-0 lead.
His first delivery came less than a minute in, as he motored past a defender and converted from in close with minimal room to operate. He swerved around the net again on the next one, with less resistance, and easily got it to stick.
Redwoods coach Nat St. Laurent said it was the first time he had sat down with his defensive coordinator and focused specifically on how to stop one player.
At the same time, he made it clear the Cannons have a lot more to offer than just the explosive Thompson.
“That team’s going to cause a lot of problems in this league,” St. Laurent said. “We got lucky today.
No action for Hogan
Many players contributed for the Cannons, but there was one notable name not on the field. Former Patriots star Chris Hogan earned a roster spot through training camp, however Quirk opted not to dress him this weekend.
Quirk noted in May that Hogan trains like no one he’s seen in the lacrosse industry, yet it appears he still has more room to grow before the Cannons put him on the field.
“The guys in this locker room have supported me through my journey and I’m going to do the same for them from the sidelines this weekend,” Hogan tweeted Friday.
“The journey is not over. It’s just beginning.”
Trevor Hass can be reached at email@example.com.