The Beat(ings) Go(es) On.

A mere 48 hours after Team USA and the MLL All Stars duked it out in Boston, The Cannons have to travel to Balti-Chesa to play the Bayhawks.  Hardly seems fair.  After all no less than seven Cannons put in a shift last night at Harvard stadium.  How many Bayhawks were there?  Oh. They had nine.  Peet Poillon, Michael Evans, Alex Smith, Danny Glading, Matt Abbott, Chris Garrity, Joe Cinosky, Kyle Dixon and Shawn Nadalen.

Is that not the entire Bayhawks team?  Am I missing something?  Man, this is going to be easy, right?

I think we all know by now, that no MLL game is easy.   We also know that every MLL game is important – especially form here on out. Three quarters of the season have elapsed in just a few short months.  The final four games will determine playoff positioning – or lack thereof for every team.  Boston is 5-3 and tied for first place with the Outlaws who have the same record.  The Bayhawks hot start has fizzled into 4-4 after Denver beat their heads in July fourth weekend 12-10 and Chesapeake had to go on a four-goal run at the end of the game to even make it that close.

In fact, Chesapeake has lost its last three games in a row – including one to Toronto that was the beginning of the Canadian team’s renaissance.  The Bayhawks are wounded.  They’re tired.  They’re ripe for a kill.

But are the boys ready to hide the body?  (I’ve been watching a lot of “Breaking Bad” lately; it’s turning me into a properly macabre rapscallion. This anecdote brought to you by thesarus.com.) The Cannons dropped their last game to the Toronto Nationals – a team in serious turmoil after the drama of Gavin Prout unceremoniously leaving the team and then magically being released from the Canadian team the next day.  (Funny how no one else has reported this – it’s a huge loss for the Canadian National team who are looking more and more dysfunctional with every passing day.)  So the Cannons lost to the Nationals – what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that the Nationals, besides being Team Canada-lite, are the defending champions and have lost to Chesapeake two out of the three times they have played them.  Do the math.

High Definition Television is not for everyone.

Wait, there’s more.  Boston has already lost to Chesapeake this year 17-14 in the fourth game of the season.  Boston has to play Chesapeake two more times before the season ends.  One of those times is this weekend.  If the Cannons win those two games they’re in the playoffs.  Don’t do the math.  It hurts.

So how do the Cannons win this game?  I’m glad I asked.  The Bayhawk’s strength is their offensive midfield.  Peet Poillon is the highest scoring midfielder in the league (18g, 15a) and right behind him is Bayhawks teammate Kyle Dixon (13g, 8[!] two-pointers, 5a).  That’s scary enough.  But the Bayhawks secret weapon is Brian Vetter.  Brian Who?  [Lame Pearl Jam joke] Brian 17 goals Vetter.  Brian sixth highest scoring midfielder Vetter.  Brian highlight goal Vetter.  I consider myself one of the most knowledgeable MLL pundits, but I had never heard of this dude until this year.  With all the talent on the Bayhawks – Johnny Christmas, Chris Daniello, Brian Carroll, Da Chazz – this guy has more points than all of those guys combined.  To discount Mr. Vetter is to lose.  Of course the Cannons need to stop his more recognizable brethren, but it’s easier to stop the guy that no one tries to stop than the guys everyone tries to stop and can’t.

So I say give Dixon and Poillon their points.  The Bayhawks attack is little more than a door hinge for it’s midfield to slam home goals.  The only team with a lower scoring attack than the Bayhawks is the Nationals.  Danny Glading was knocked out of the game last night with a bump to his midsection. Ben Rubeor is one more knee injury away from a free coupon at Dr. Nick’s school of ACL reconstruction. (Commonly held theory in the MLL: UVA guys are softer than soggy ramen noodles.) The third attackman changes every game.  If you beat on the Bayhawks they will submit.  But you can’t let them up, or they will Brock Lesnar you in the second round.

Mmmm...wimpy attackmen.

So the Cannons have to keep the pressure on the attack and not let the midfield invert or get their lanes.  A fast rotation would be the best bet, but since the Cannons D isn’t fast (get over it, guys) they will have to skip the full rotation and designate a faster double from the midfield like Matt Casey or Matt Smalley.  Sidebar: How impressive has Matt Smalley been?  Guy comes out of nowhere and grabs 21 loose balls in six games. Give this guy the 12th man award, even if he is a Dukie.

Offensively, The Cannons have to be able to get quality shots on Chris Garrity.  Ever since we traded him he’s made it his mission to kill us.  Despite losing his last game, Garrity hasn’t cooled off in net 0- he made 21 stops against the Outlaws last weekend and he could be on his way to goalie of the year honours.  131 total saves?  That’s insane.

If the Cannons don’t get good shots, the fear isn’t that they won’t score, it’s that Garrity will turn their misses into fast breaks.  The Bayhawks have the best transition midfielder in the world in Matt Abbott.  He’s a one man clear.  Hopefully Rabil will get back on track playing in front of his home town, Pat Heim can continue his excellent impersonation of a second banana and Kevin Buchanon can expose Chesapeake’s terrible help defense.

Is victory assured?  No, it never is in the MLL.  But if you saw how well the Cannons guys played last night, you might have missed how bad the Bayhawks guys played.  That’s why I do what I do.  Look for Boston to take sole possession of first place with a hard fought victory.

One more thing. Poskay: don’t watch your goals on the jumbotron – it’s so tacky.

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