Boston, M.A. (January 25, 2016) – The 2016 Major League Lacrosse draft was held last Friday in Baltimore, M.D. a midst a historical winter storm barreling down on the city. The Cannons selected seven players throughout the course of the eight rounds. The draft kicked off with commissioner David Gross making three big trade announcements. One of the trades was a blockbuster deal that surrounded Boston. The Cannons sent Scott Ratliff to the Atlanta Blaze in exchange for Brodie Merrill, Justin Turri, Mike Pellegrino and a future 2017 first round college draft pick. That news shook the draft from the beginning.
“This trade was several months in the making,” said Cannons General Manager Kevin Barney. “Scott informed us, as expected, early in the off-season of his interest to play for his home town team.” Ratliff is a Marietta, GA native who now is the President of one of the biggest club lacrosse programs in the Atlanta area, LB3 Lacrosse. “You never look to trade a player like Ratliff, but the reality of our league at this time can dictate certain moves and you work to return the best value possible,” continued Barney.
Brodie Merrill, regarded as possibly the best all-time defensemen in MLL history, returns to the Cannons, along with veteran middie Turri to help bolster the Cannons first offensive midfield line. Also included in the deal is former Johns Hopkins star Mike Pellegrino, who will look to fill the LSM position at the start of the season. The last piece of the deal, and possibly most important for the future of the Cannons is the first round pick in next years college draft from the Atlanta Blaze. The Cannons now hold an unheard of three first round picks in the 2017 College Draft.
Following the trade that was only completed minutes before the start of the draft, the Cannons had two first round picks. General Manager Kevin Barney, Head Coach Sean Quirk, and the rest of the coaching staff put their heads together and decided first upon midfielder, Greg Coholan from the University of Virginia for the sixth overall pick. In 2015, the Rochester, N.Y. native was not only a 2015 USILA honorable mention and an All-American but he led the Cavaliers with 39 goals and 53 total points. Coholan a versatile pick started all 15 games this past season with Virginia at either attack or midfield and was ranked fifth overall in the ACC with 2.6 goals per game. To this point in his college career, the senior has amassed 57 goals and 30 assists accumulating for 87 points.
“Greg has been a player that the Cannons have been watching for over a year. Above and beyond Greg’s ability to play at the MLL level, his leadership as a two-year captain will add a great deal to the Cannons organization. We know Greg will be an asset in the locker room and on the field. He has tremendous potential to be a star in the MLL,” said Sean Quirk.
The Cannons next selected defenseman Brandon Mullins as the ninth overall pick of the draft out of Syracuse University. During his 2015 season, Mullins was a Tewaaraton Award nominee, an USILA First Team All-American, All-ACC Team (second-straight season), ECAC First Team All-Star, and was selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team. Mullins finished the season ranked fifth in program history at Syracuse in caused turnovers and started all fifteen of Cuse’s games. The Texas native will bring a lot to the Cannons backfield.
“We are excited to have Brandon on the Cannons, as an aggressive and extremely athletic defenseman. We anticipate Brandon to make an impact for the Cannons this season. He has proven at Syracuse to be very skilled while playing aggressive team defense,” Quirk noted.
The next few rounds continued quietly as the Cannons waited for their next pick to roll along. The next time they were up on the clock midfielder Challen Rogers was selected from Stony Brook University in the fourth round and the 32nd pick overall. Rogers started all of Stony Brook’s games during the 2015 season, racking up 30 goals and 23 assists. He was named to the first team all-conference this past season. On March 28th of 2015, he tallied five goals against Vermont. To this point of his college career, Rogers has 149 points with 70 goals and 79 assists.
Quirk believes that Challen has the “ability to play as a two-way midfielder. He will add a tremendous amount of firepower to an already powerful midfield group with the Cannons.”
Midfielder Jake Matthai was next up for the Cannons as the 41st overall pick in the fifth round. Matthai hails from the University of North Carolina where he has patrolled the midfield as one of UNC’s top short-stick defensive midfielders. During his first two seasons with UNC, he appeared in all of the games, accumulating 11 total points.
Coach Quirk see’s Jake as “a big, strong defensive midfielder that we anticipate will develop into a two-way midfielder for the Cannons. His natural ability to push transition is something that we looked highly on. He plays well into our system.”
Local talent and Tufts University Junior, John Uppgren was chosen by the Cannons in the sixth round. For the past two seasons, Uppgren has been the nation’s leading scorer and was nominated to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He was nominated the player of the year in DIII. In 2015, Uppgren accumulated 5.61 points per game, having 76 goals and 53 assists for 129 posts in all 23 of the Jumbos games. It will be exciting to see what Uppgren will add to the Cannons crop of talent.
Coach Quirk has watched Uppgren play and admired his “tremendous talent, he can play attack or midfield and will add versatility to our team and organization.”
Round seven saw the Cannons selecting attack Matt Thistle from High Point University. Thistle is one of the six captains on the Panther’s team for the upcoming season. Thistle ranked second on the High Point team in points with 52 (31 goals and 21 assists. He was selected as the Second Team All-SoCon and named to the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Month for this previous February. At High Point, Thistle has accumulated 147 points with 212 shots.
“Matt came highly recommended from Coach Torpey at High Point., Matt is a shifty attackman and has great vision. Matt grew up a Cannons fan as a Massachusetts youth player, his time to become a big part of our organization is something we look forward too,” stated Coach Quirk.
In the final round of the draft, the Cannons selected another local player, Endicott College goalie, Cameron Bell. Bell has seen action in 20 games over the course of his career with Endicott and seen over 1000 minutes of playing time on the field. He carries an 8.28 goals-against average and has made 202 saves. Bell’s record is an impressive 15-8 with the Gulls and he has a 100 percent conference winning percentage. Cameron Bell with be reunited with his former coach Sean Quirk in a Cannons jersey.
“Cam’s a three time All American goalie headed into his senior season with the ability to play at any level. His leadership, clearing, and stopping ability is tremendous,” confirmed Quirk.
It will be exciting to see what exactly the future holds for these young and talented players. Before the draftees can be seen in a Cannons uniform, they must complete their collegiate seasons. You can follow the Cannons draftees play all season long by reading the Weekly Collegeiate Draftee Recap.
Next on tap for the Cannons is training camp which will open on April 2nd. Following training camp, the Cannons travel to Charlotte to open the season on April 23rd. This year’s home opener is against the newest team in the MLL, the Atlanta Blaze on April 30th. There’s a lot to look forward to in the next coming months, make sure you follow along on all the Cannons media outlets for team updates, news, and more! Purchase your tickets today by calling our front office at (617) 746-9933.