BOSTON (CBS) — After a disappointing 2013 season that saw them miss the playoffs, the Boston Cannons are ready to turn things around in 2014.
The Major League Lacrosse season gets underway this weekend, with the Cannons opening things up against the defending champion Chesepeake Bayhawks Sunday afternoon at 1pm at Harvard Stadium.
Cannons midfielder Paul Rabil, known to many as “The LeBron James Of Lacrosse,” joined Toucher and Rich Thursday morning to talk about the upcoming season, and the rising popularity of the sport of lacrosse.
Rabil, who Boston took with the first overall pick out of Johns Hopkins in 2008, finished third in MLL with 55 points (41 goals, 14 assists) in 2013, but the 5-9 Cannons missed the postseason for the first time of his career. As the league continues to grow Rabil understands that he will play a big part in bringing MLL to the next level, but welcomes the challenge.
“I don’t think there is pressure, but there is opportunity. This is something I want to do; I’m trying to grow the game,” he told T&R. “I try to learn from other sports, but lacrosse is my passion. It’s a pretty simple equation: as the sport grows and continues to get more airtime on mainstream outlets, that’ll give me more opportunity to grow my brand and vice-versa.”
The three-time MLL Offensive Player of the Year says that the Cannons, who averaged over 8,000 in attendance for each of their seven home games in 2013, have some of the best fans in the sport, and are ready to make another title run this season after adding defensemen Brodie Merrill and Diogo Godoi to the mix this offseason.
“We had a tough season last year; we have a lot of expectations year-in and year-out being one of the original franchises and being part of one of the great sports cities,” said Rabil. “But we feel like we had a great off-season; we added some really world-class defenders and will have our first full-year under head coach John Tucker.
“We feel like the pressure is on,” said Rabil, “and we want to deliver on it.”
Like many New England athletes, Rabil often looks to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for some pointers on what it takes to win the ultimate goal. But with Belichick being a huge lacrosse fan, his relationship with #99 goes back to Rabil’s college days.
“He frequently visited Hopkins when I was there and a captain, and I asked my coach at the time how to get some face time with (Belichick). I wanted to learn about the guys he was coaching, how Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi were on the field. He was always more than willing to sit down and talk, and I made it a goal of mine to extend that relationship even out of college,” explained Rabil. “We have a chance to sit down a couple of times a year, whether it’s around a Pats game or if he comes to a Cannons game, just to catch up on the sports.
“As much as I want to hear what is going on in Pats Nation and the NFL, all he really cares about is lacrosse when we sit down for dinner,” said Rabil.