The Rochester Rattlers open their 2012 Major League Lacrosse season against the defending champion Boston Cannons in Harvard Stadium at 7PM on Saturday, April 28 th live on ESPN3. The Rattlers have had one of the most productive off-seasons of any team in MLL, but they will have eight players on the NLL Inactive list for their season opener. The Rattlers have playoff potential this season, but need to get through the first four weeks with a short roster to realize that potential. Their challenge in the first week of the season won’t be easy as the Cannons are returning the league’s most prolific offense.
“The season is two games longer this season, so the league starts two weeks earlier.” Rattlers coach Tim Soudan said. “That’s kind of put a strain on teams that feature players who play in both leagues. We feel like we’ve done a lot of good work in the offseason. We’re a lot deeper than we were last season, and we feel we have a roster in place that can come in and challenge Boston on Saturday night.”
A Kevin Leveille might be the Rattlers most significant signing of the 2012 offseason. He started his career with the Cannons and played in Boston for two years before moving on to Chicago where he played from 2006-2010. Leveille has scored 224 goals in the first seven years of his career, and he has posted four thirty-goal seasons. On Saturday night Leveille will be joined by the Rattlers number one pick (third overall) in the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft A Steven Boyle. Boyle played two games with the Boston Cannons as a rookie in 2010, and he scored two goals and added an assist. Boyle was a three-time All-American at Johns Hopkins where he finished with 95 goals and 69 assists for 164 points. As a senior he had 32 goals and 23 assists for 55 points. The Rattlers will be without their superstar A Ned Crotty, who is on the NLL Inactive list, for Saturday night’s game. Crotty finished the 2011 season as the league’s leader in points (50) and assists (21). He was an MLL All-Star and an MLL All-Pro for the first time a year ago.
In midfield the Rattlers are returning some midfield fire power from their 2011 roster, while they have added some defensive cover for this season. Veteran Matt Striebel has been named a co-captain with Leveille for the 2012 season. In his ninth season Striebel brings a wealth of experience as a three-time MLL Champion with Philadelphia and a two-time World Champion with Team USA. Striebel went to his sixth MLL All-Star game last season, and he went on to score 13 goals (4 2-pts) and add eight assists for 25 points out of midfield. M Marty Cahill had a breakout season in 2011 with 16 goals while M Jeff Colburn was one of the most improved players in MLL with seven goals and 11 assists. Defensively the Rattlers added M Steve DeNapoli during the off-season. DeNapoli played five games for Chesapeake last season as a SSDM and scooped 16 ground balls. He was one of the best SSDM’s in the country with Hofstra and looks to fill that role with the Rattlers in the early going this season.
2011 Rochester Rattlers Rookie of the Year John Galloway will start in goal for the 2012 season. Galloway had a storied career with Syracuse University (’11) where he won the NCAA Championship as a freshmen and as a sophomore – the only goalie in NCAA history to accomplish the feat. As a junior and a senior he was selected as the nation’s top goalie – the only goalie in SU history to earn top honors. Galloway will anchor a defense manned by the familiar faces of D Diogo Godoi and D Tom Guadagnolo, Jr. who are both returning from last year’s team. D Joel White and D Joe Smith are both on the NLL Inactive list on Saturday night.
The Boston Cannons are returning four of their primary weapons from their 2011 Championship season, and they will all be available for the season opener on Saturday night. M Paul Rabil leads the Cannons attack. Last season Rabil was the MLL Offensive Player of the Year and the Bud Light MLL MVP after tying Crotty for the points title in the regular season and leading his team to the Championship. Rabil will be joined in the attack by A Matt Poskay, who was tied for the MLL lead in goals with 30 in 2011. Rabil and Poskay are supported in the attack by A Brad Ross (19G, 29P) and A Ryan Boyle (10G-19A). G Jordan Burke led MLL in wins (7), goals-against average (10.66), and save percentage (.615%) in the 2011 season. Burke was the Championship Weekend MVP and he returns to anchor the Cannons defense in 2012.
“The first part of the season is going to be a challenge for us.” Soudan said. “We’re hurt more by the NLL Inactive list than some other teams are, but it’s something I think we can handle. We’ve got a deeper, more talented roster this season, and I think that is something that is going to show on Saturday night.”