Cannons 17, Machine 15

Rabil’s return ignites offense for Cannons

By Jake Seiner
Globe Correspondent / May 23, 2010

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The return of Paul Rabil, who missed the Cannons’ season opener last Saturday while winning the indoor National Lacrosse League title game with the Washington Stealth, figured to be a boost to the offense.

Coming off a 16-13 win against the Denver Outlaws in the opener, Boston rolled to a 17-15 victory over the Chicago Machine last night in Rabil’s return before a franchise-record crowd of 10,615 at Harvard Stadium.

Rabil, the reigning Major League Lacrosse Most Valuable Player who led the team with 33 goals and 53 points a year ago, tallied three goals for the Cannons (2-0).

“I was a bit tentative coming out, just trying to find the right spacing,’’ Rabil said. “That was the biggest issue for me in the transition [from indoor to outdoor] last year. In the end, lacrosse is lacrosse, but the difference in the two leagues is spacing.’’

With the Cannons holding a 7-6 lead and 30 seconds left until halftime, Rabil took possession of the ball atop the 2-point arc and put on a dodging clinic around a pair of Chicago (1-1) defenders. The display ended in Rabil firing a laser shot from the right hashes, just inside the arc, that bounced into the lower-left corner of the net to give the Cannons a two-goal lead entering intermission.

The goal sparked a 7-1 Cannons scoring run that effectively put the game out of reach in the third quarter.

“He adds a different dimension,’’ Cannons defenseman Jack Reid said. “He’s really tough to cover. Teams are highly aware of everything he does, and the rest of the offense is clicking well in supporting.’’

While Rabil’s return did provide the offensive spark expected, the Cannons still relied heavily on their new midfield corps, which Rabil dubbed as a “dream midfield.’’ Last week against Denver, the group accounted for 14 goals.

Middie Kevin Buchanan netted the game’s first tally just more than four minutes in on a nifty triple fake spin move that threw a Machine defender off the scent and gave Buchanan a shooting lane he didn’t waste.

“One of the most underrated guys in the league,’’ Rabil said of Buchanan, who had three goals and two assists in his second game for Boston. Last year, as a member of the Washington Bayhawks, Buchanan tallied 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in six games.

Goals from Wellesley-native Michael Stone — his second in two games — and Justin Smith rounded out the first-quarter scoring, and a perfect frame by goalie Kip Turner helped Boston record its first blank quarter since June 15, 2007.

After attacker Ryan Boyle netted a goal to open the second, Mike Leveille put the Machine on the board with 12 minutes to play in the quarter. Chicago the put together a string of goals, cutting the deficit to a 7-6.

After the 7-1 run kicked off by Rabil’s tally late in the second, Chicago rebounded and brought the deficit back to 16-14 with less than nine minutes to play. Though the Cannons held on, the fourth-quarter defensive lapse was Boston’s second in two games, and the squad hasn’t forgotten that it lost all seven of its games in 2009 by one goal.

The victory bumps Boston’s all-time mark in the series to 4-1 after dropping the first game between the teams in 2007.