May 26, 2012

Cannone Content Being Salisbury's Second Fiddle

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Salisbury's Sam Bradman gets most of the notoriety, but classmate Matt Cannone will finish his career second on the all-time points list — nearly 70 points ahead of Bradman. The two are roommates and neither is worried about numbers or publicity, as long as Salisbury can pull off the repeat.
© Salisbury Sports Information

He's a two-time first team All-American and will graduate as the second-leading scorer in the epic history of Salisbury men's lacrosse.

And he's not the first guy you think of when the Sea Gull program comes up.

That's the plight of Matt Cannone, a guy who has 60 or more points than program legends like Dave Cottle, Kylor Berkman and Dan Boyer, but still takes a back seat amongst the 2012 team to Sam Bradman, the unquestioned face of this year's 22-0 Salisbury squad.

There has to be a certain level of annoyance with that, right?

"No, that never sets in," said Cannone. "Sam's my roommate and we don't worry about personal accolades or anything like that. We know what an unbelievable player he is, and we see it every day. I've played with him for four years, so nothing like that crosses my mind. It's a team, so when one of us isn't doing well, the other is picking it up."

The fact of the matter is Bradman's presence as the top dog is more of an external perception than what is going on with the members of the team.

"Matt's the attack guy and Sam's the middie guy," said Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman.

A big reason Cannone is unfazed by his station on the Sea Gulls is he understands how fortunate he is to have the career he has managed to put together. Coming out of Bayport, N.Y., Cannone matriculated at the University of Delaware, but quickly realized playing time would be scarce for a couple of years.

He started looking for a new program after his first semester and found a promising situation on the Eastern Shore.

"He came in during the middle of the year, and it was good timing because we had just graduated Matt Hickman, who had scored 60 goals the previous two years in the lefthanded shooters spot and we needed a lefty," said Berkman. "It was a great get at the right moment."

"At Delaware, I loved the team, but I just didn't see myself fitting in too well," said Cannone. "It really ended up being the best decision I made. Being able to come here with open arms from the players and Coach Berkman allowed me to be successful. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing."

In his first season, Cannone scored 53 goals along with 14 assists, which was second only to Kylor Berkman's 83 points on the 2009 Salisbury squad. Most coaches and players would be happy with that kind of production out of a rookie, but both understood there was a need to diversify Cannone's game.

"If you saw him four years ago and you saw him now, you'd say, 'What a development,'" said Berkman. "He could just shoot four years ago, and now he's an unbelievable feeder, he has great eyes and shoots the ball better. His evolution has been great."

Berkman prodded Cannone to expand his arsenal, and Cannone was excited when he saw the results.

"When I first arrived, I was just known as a crease finisher," Cannone said. "I would was just able to put the ball in the net. But as years progressed, I wanted to improve my game and be more of a team guy. Not just put the ball in the net, but set up other guys. My sophomore year, I worked on my dodging and finding the next guy and making the other guys around me better.

"That has just grown through the years, and leading up to this senior year, I feel very confident in helping out all of my teammates. That has contributed to my overall success. Being out on the turf and being able to shoot with a bunch of guys all the time, it's a great environment to get better."

The balance in Cannone's numbers has slowly shifted over the past three seasons. His sophomore year produced 51 goals and 33 assists and transitioned to 49 markers and 39 helpers last spring. This year, Cannone actually has more assists (64) than goals (61), giving him 364 points for his career — good for second at Salisbury behind Jason Coffman, who amassed a staggering 451 from 1993-96.

With the Sea Gulls on the cusp of their second consecutive national title, the numbers don't mean a whole lot. Cannone said he, Bradman and the rest of the team are motivated by the opportunity to go down as the best team in Salisbury history.

Every now and again, however, Cannone will let Bradman know that even though he's the face of the Sea Gulls, the record books tell a different story.

"When we're out, I might bust his chops a little bit, but it's all in good fun," Cannone said. "We're really good friends and I love seeing him do well and I know he feels the same about me."


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