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Daye, Cannons are fired up

Potent offense boosts title hopes

By Braden Campbell
Globe Correspondent / May 11, 2011

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The Boston Cannons have made the playoffs eight times in the 10-year history of Major League Lacrosse, yet the Steinfeld Cup, which goes to the league champion, has remained elusive.

Last year, they were the top seed in the playoffs but suffered a semifinal exit at the hands of the eventual champion Chesapeake Bayhawks — something this year’s team is looking to avenge.

With a number of returning stars, key offseason acquisitions, and maturing young guns on the roster, 2011 might be the year the Cannons finally take the crown.

“That’s what we work toward in the offseason, and that’s pretty much the goal that’s set,’’ said coach Bill Daye, whose team opens the season Saturday against the Long Island Lizards at Harvard Stadium.

“Each game is a building block for us as we get closer to the end of the season with aspirations of advancing into the postseason.’’

The Cannons return attackman Matt Poskay, the team captain, whose 52 points last year put him first in the league in scoring and earned him MVP honors.

“He’s able to find holes in the defense, he works well with his teammates, and when he gets his opportunities, he cashes in on them,’’ Daye said.

Attackmen Ryan Boyle (32 points) and Kevin Buchanan (33 points) should provide Poskay some help on the offensive end.

Max Quinzani, a 2010 draftee who joined the team last June after winning the national championship at Duke, should be an asset with another year under his belt.

Quinzani was a high school phenom at Duxbury, where his 577 career points remain a national high school record.

“He’s very similar to Matt Poskay in how he knows how to get open, and when he gets the ball in his stick, he has a knack for finishing,’’ Daye said. “The few games he played last year, he did that very well. Now he knows what to expect, and that’s big.’’

Midfielder Paul Rabil (37 points), the 2009 MVP, will miss the season opener, as he’s playing in the National Lacrosse League championship game with the Washington Stealth, but he will be back after that.

Pat Heim and Brad Ross should be strong alongside Rabil as they return to the midfield. Last year was the first in a Cannons uniform for both, and familiarity with the system should make them stronger.

Daye is excited about bringing in P.T. Ricci, who was acquired from the Bayhawks in the offseason. The coach is hoping the long-stick midfielder can provide a spark in transition.

Mitch Belisle, Kyle Sweeney, and Jack Reid were strong at close defense last year and should continue to shut down the opposition.

Kip Turner, the 2011 Goalie of the Year, will be back between the pipes, though the starting spot isn’t set in stone. Jordan Burke, who made four appearances last season, has made a strong case for himself in the preseason, Daye said.

“It’s been a great competition through camp,’’ Daye said. “On Saturday, there’s a good chance you could see these guys split time, and then we’ll take it from there.’’

Daye said he’ll announce the final 19-man roster to the team during their pregame walkthrough Saturday morning.