Boston Cannons Eager To Get Off To Fast Start In 2017

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The Boston Cannons are eager to commence their 2017 campaign, but also get off to a fast start. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reid Smith/Boston Cannons)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Last season, seven teams finished atop the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) standings with identical 8-6 ledgers.

And one of those teams happened to be the Boston Cannons, which captured four of their final five contests, including a come-from behind season finale win over the Florida Launch.

Yet, despite an exciting 11-10 win over the Launch last August, tie-breakers among the league’s nine teams ousted the Cannons from the 2016 MLL playoffs, providing head coach Sean Quirk and his team with some motivation heading into the 2017 season.

“The parody is absolutely ridiculous in the league,” Quirk said earlier this week during his team’s Media Day at the New Balance Headquarters in Boston. “Anyone can win on any given day, (but) I think how we prepare for that (first game) is going to be critical.”

Getting off to a hot start will be critical for the Cannons, who look to return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. And to avoid any end of season tiebreakers, earning early season wins will help the local squad position themselves for a chance to contend for the Steinfeld Cup.

“We really hit our stride last year probably mid-way (or) maybe a little bit after that (point in the season), but we finished really strong,” said Quirk, who will be entering his second season with the Cannons.

“We beat New York at home, we finished beating the Florida Launch at home … so we put ourselves in every position to make the playoffs, but we didn’t do that early on in the season … so our goal is we have to be prepared better than we were last year early on to have success.”

Boston began positioning themselves for a successful 2017 campaign by recently inking Brodie Merrill, John Uppgren, Mike Begley and Joe Nardella to new contracts, while welcoming back John Tucker as an assistant coach.

Tucker, who began the 2016 season as the Atlanta Blaze’s first-ever head coach, spent a trio of seasons in Boston (2013-15) and was tabbed the squad’s head coach midway through the 2015 season.

The Cannons also acquired Matt Landis from the Florida Launch last month – he will be one of many defenders on Boston’s backline that will attempt to lock-down the league’s top attack.

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Boston’s Josh Hawkins will be one of the key players to watch this season at the midfield. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reid Smith/Boston Cannons)

Boston will welcome back a slew of key players from last season, including Will Manny, Josh Hawkins, Kevin Buchanan, David Emala and Tyler Fiorito, who will be spotted between the pipes this season. Manny paced the squad with 50 points last season, while Max Seibald led the unit with a quartet of two-point goals.

Hawkins enjoyed his best season a pro, netting career-best in goals (11), points (14) and ground balls (51). He is one of many Cannons eager to return to the field in a few weeks when Boston visits Florida in their season-opener, which is scheduled for Sunday, April 23.

“Every game is a playoff game,” said Hawkins, when asked about his team’s outlook for the upcoming season. “That’s how it is … it’s always playoff games for us.”

Following a visit to Florida, Boston will head to Atlanta on Saturday, April 29th before entertaining Chesapeake on Saturday, May 6 at Harvard Stadium. Roughly one month after the Cannons’ home opener, Boston will welcome the defending champion Denver Outlaws on Saturday, June 3rd.

Boston will close out its season at home with back-to-back games against Florida (July 29th) and Atlanta (August 5th). Following their season-final against the Blaze, the Cannons hope to return to the field the following week for a playoff game.

“You have to approach every game with a winning mentality,” said Buchannan. “We just have to find a way to win week-in and week-out.”

For more on the Boston Cannons, visit their website at BostonCannons.com and make sure to follow them on Twitter (@BostonCannons) and become a fan on Facebook, too. 

Mass. High School Lax: Medfield Set To Begin Title Defense Against Holliston

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Medfield begins its quest for a fourth-straight D2 crown on Tuesday, April 4th when they visit Holliston. (PHOTO CREDIT: @Med_Lax)

By Mass. High School Lax. (@Mass_LaxHS) 

The three-time defending Division 2 state champions are set to begin their title defense next Tuesday, April 4th when they visit Tri-Valley League (TVL) foe Holliston with face-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Medfield High School boy’s varsity lacrosse publicized its team’s 2017 campaign today on Twitter. Not only does their schedule include some must-see local contests, but a quartet of games featuring some non-Massachusetts teams.

In addition to the non-Massachusetts contests, fans should certainly keep an eye on the Warriors two contests with Dover-Sherborn (Apr. 25th and May 17th), as well as their visit to Duxbury on May 6th.

Another game worth noting is Medfield-Beverly, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 11th at 6:30 p.m. The contest will be played at Medfield High School.

For more local Massachusetts high school lacrosse coverage, make sure to follow @Mass_LaxHS on Twitter! Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) will be providing game coverage and features this season on the local lacrosse teams.  

Mass. High School Lax: Westwood Keeps The Focus On Improving Every Day

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After capturing the MIAA Division 1 State Championship last season, the Westwood High School girl’s lacrosse team is focused on improving each day this season! (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mao)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Months after the Westwood girl’s varsity lacrosse team captured the Division 1 state championship, the Westwood Press and Boston Herald reported that long-time head coach Leslie Frank was stepping-down.

Frank’s departure opened the door for assistant Margot Spatola, who spent the past five seasons with the Wolverines.

“The transition has gone well so far,” said Spatola, who has helped the Wolverines snatch a trio of state titles, dating back to 2012.

“I hope that my coaching staff and I can honor Leslie’s legacy by continuing to push our players to be the best players they can be and to be the best versions of themselves (everyday).”

Westwood, which commences its regular season next week when they visit Bellingham, will enjoy a few more days of practice, along with a pair of play-dates this weekend – weather permitting, of course.

The play-dates will feature some local teams, including Duxbury, Needham and Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), along with a few squads from New York and Rhode Island.

According to Spatola, Westwood’s biggest goal this season is to grow and improve every day. Sure, it sounds cliché, but in order for the Wolverines to enjoy another successful campaign, they’ll need their seniors, including Haley Connaughton, Shea Farrell, Georgia Salvatore and Kelly Doonan to step-up and lead the underclassmen.

“We have nine seniors (on our team) that have exhibited great leadership already,” said Spatola. “We’re fortunate to have such a hard-working, cohesive group of seniors.”

Added Connaughton, “We need to work as hard as we can (everyday). We are each other’s best competition and we need to capitalize on that at practices and in pre-game warm ups.”

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Haley Connaughton (No. 4) will be one of nine seniors counted on to lead the Wolverines this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mao)

Competing against each other every day should certainly help Westwood achieve their daily (and season-long goal), but also assist the underclassmen and new players that Spatola welcomed to the team earlier this month.

“We have a number of newcomers who have the chance to make an impact,” said Spatola. “We graduated 10 seniors from the 2016 squad and Marc is a time for new things to happen.

“We’re looking forward to watching our underclassmen grow under the guidance of our experienced seniors and juniors.”

Following Westwood’s initial contest against Bellingham, the Wolverines will host Needham on Wednesday (April 5th) before visiting Dover-Sherborn the following day (April 6th).

Westwood and Needham have built quite a rivalry over the past few seasons – most times, the two squads clash in the MIAA Division 1 South semifinals or finals.

“Needham is a great team that we always have a friendly rivalry with,” said Spatola.

In addition to an important non-conference meeting with the Rockets, Westwood’s schedule features some additional tough tests against Norwell (last season’s MIAA Division 2 state champion), Wellesley, Lincoln-Sudbury, Duxbury, Medfield and Notre Dame Academy.

Of course, winning the Tri-Valley League is extremely important, too – don’t expect Spatola and her crew to overlook any league foe as they continue to strive to improve and grow each day.

“What’s great about high school sports is that every year is different from the last, and the beginning of the season is very different from the end,” said Spatola. “I look forward to seeing how our team grows throughout the season.”

Added Doonan, “I think our biggest team goal this season is getting to know each other’s style of play. We have a lot of new underclassmen and juniors on the team, and we really need to work in practice on getting to know each others strengths and weaknesses, both offensively and defensively.”

Make sure to stay up-to date with the Wolverines, along with other Massachusetts High School Lacrosse news by following us on Twitter @NoontimeSports and @Mass_LaxHS. This season, Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) will provide game stories and features on local high school lacrosse. 

Major League Baseball 2017 Season Predictions

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Don’t count out the Chicago Cubs this season! (Photo Credit: Rolling Stone/Getty Images)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

In honor of a brand new Major League Baseball (MLB) season, here are a few thoughts and predictions, including what team will celebrate a World Series victory.

Care to share your thoughts on this season’s Major League Baseball season? Send me a tweet at @MattNoonan11 or an email to NoontimeSports@gmail.com

American League Predictions

American League East

Toronto Blue Jays

American League Central

Cleveland Indians

American League West 

Houston Astros

American League Wild Card

Boston Red Sox

American League Wild Card

Texas Rangers

National League Predictions 

National League East 

Washington Nationals

National League Central 

Chicago Cubs

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers

National League Wild Card

San Francisco Giants

National League Wild Card

Pittsburgh Pirates

 

American League & National League Champion Predictions

American League Champion

Cleveland Indians

National League Champion

Chicago Cubs

 

World Series Champion Predictions

World Series Champion

Chicago Cubs

Bishop Fenwick Boys Lacrosse Eager To Contend For CCL Title

IgLHZcp1_400x400By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The Bishop Fenwick boy’s varsity lacrosse team is just a few days away from its season-opener against Archbishop Williams. And the excitement for the 2017 season is certainly growing, according to head coach Steve Driscoll.

“We are looking to qualify for the (MIAA) tournament (this season) and compete for the Catholic Central League title,” said Driscol.

“We’re also looking to claim the Danish Cup from Peabody this year, too.”

The Crusaders finished its 2016 campaign 8-10 overall and were edged by Peabody, 9-8 (OT). They captured just one of their final three contests despite commencing the season with three consecutive wins, but will look to rebound this season, beginning next Monday when they host Archbishop Williams in their season-opener.

Following their initial home-date against the Bishops, Bishop Fenwick will visit St. Mary’s Lynn on Wednesday (Apr. 5th) before returning home Friday for an afternoon clash with Pentucket.

Make sure to follow @Mass_LaxHS on Twitter for updates, news and scores from around the Massachusetts High School Lacrosse world, while visiting NoontimeSports.com for game stories and features on various high school lacrosse teams.