Rabil's World: No. 99 Zeroes In On Title No. 3
by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
Paul Rabil hopes to carry Kevin Buchanan and the Boston Cannons to their first Major League Lacrosse championship -- and his third major title in a year.
© Bryce Vickmark
There are winners … and then there is Paul Rabil.
Fresh off his Most Valuable Player performance for victorious Team USA at the FIL World Championships, Rabil has his sights set on the Major League Lacrosse title with the No. 1-seeded Boston Cannons.
With one regular season game remaining Saturday against the Chesapeake Bayhawks, Rabil and the Cannons are poised for Championship Weekend on Aug. 21-22 in Annapolis, Maryland.
If the Cannons capture their first Steinfeld Cup, it will further establish Rabil’s winning reputation, while adding to his collection of bling.
After all, Rabil already owns NCAA title rings, a National Lacrosse League ring and a gold medal, claimed two weeks ago in Manchester, England.
In May, Rabil helped the Washington Stealth defeat Toronto, scooping eight loose balls and scoring two goals for his first NLL crown.
On July 24, Rabil scored three goals to help the United States defeat Canada, 12-10. Over the course of the tournament, he scored 16 goals and had seven assists, second only to attackman Brendan Mundorf (17 goals and 10 assists).
If Rabil and the Cannons win the MLL championship, it will mark three major lacrosse titles for Rabil all in the same year. The only player who can match his success is Denver Outlaws defenseman Eric Martin, a member of the Stealth and Team USA.
As anticipation builds for the postseason, the Cannons have the upper hand on Denver, posting a 3-0 regular-season mark, including last Saturday’s 16-5 decimation at Invesco Field at Mile High.
The hat trick of titles has certainly entered Rabil’s mind.
“It has been a big goal of mine since I had the opportunity to win the NLL,’’ Rabil said. “You just have to focus one at a time. So far, I’ve been fortunate."
Winning is nothing new to Rabil. After transferring from Watkins Mills High School to DeMatha Catholic High School in suburban Washington, D.C., Rabil helped the Stags win three state private school championships.
Moving up the freeway to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Rabil contributed to another winning combination, as part of the Blue Jays’ NCAA championship teams in 2005 and 2007.
Upon graduation in 2008, Rabil wasted no time establishing himself as a professional, not only in the field game, where he rocketed to MLL Most Valuable Player status in 2009, but in the less-familiar box game.
At 6-foot-3, Rabil blends size, speed and skill. He is among the fastest players zooming from offense to defense and vice versa. Moreover, he owns the fastest shot in the MLL, clocked at 111 miles per hour at the 2009 and 2010 All-Star games.
“When you watch him shoot, and break it down, you see that he gets his entire body into his shot, and that's how he generates his speed," said Cannons coach Bill Daye. “The accuracy comes from practice and the countless number of balls he shoots per day."
A melding of physical gifts and unique work ethic enabled Rabil to excel throughout the NLL season, prepare for and excel in the world championships and impact the MLL campaign.
“Even though he's one of the top players in the league, he's always working on his game to get better, faster, stronger," Daye said. “Paul has a training regimen that he sticks to, and it’s the reason why he's in such great physical shape."
According to Daye, Rabil is always the first player on the field and usually one of the last to leave -- after he puts over 100 shots on the cage.
“It is not a competition to see who gets out there first," Rabil said, chuckling. “I just want to be out there as long as I can to get comfortable going into games."
With the help of Baltimore-based strength and conditioning coach Jay Dyer, who works with Rabil three days per week during the NLL and MLL seasons, the 24-year-old's body is holding up through non-stop play and lengthy air travel.
“I feel good. I actually feel good," Rabil said. “I’ve been counting my blessings. I’ve been healthy, and a lot of credit goes to Jay for preparing me each week and keeping me in the best shape possible before and after games. I owe a lot to him."
Dyer’s plan and Rabil’s execution passed the most difficult test in Denver.
Less than a week after returning from England, Rabil flew with the Cannons to Denver. Relying on his incredible stamina, he shined at altitude through four quarters, scoring two goals in the final quarter, the latter a two-pointer at warp speed.
With Matt Poskay scoring a franchise-record 42 goals, goaltender Kip Turner turning away sure shots and Rabil making plays at both ends, the Cannons appear to be the team to beat.
“As with the Stealth and Team USA, obviously we feel we can eventually win the championship and we have the talent to do so," Rabil said. “But you never want to go into these games feeling deserving of it. That’s when you’ll slip, so we just got to keep our focus on the game ahead and once championship weekend comes, focus on our semifinal matchup before moving on to the championship game."
Danowski, McClay, Quinzani take home Week 11 honors
Long Island Lizards attackman Matt Danowski was named the MLL's
Offensive Player of the Week, Boston Cannons defenseman Ryan McClay
was named the Defensive Player of the Week and Boston Cannons
Attack Max Quinzani was honored as the Rookie of the Week.
Danowski was named the Offensive Player of the Week, after scoring eight points on three goals and five assists during a 16-11 victory over the Toronto Nationals. The win clinched a spot for the Lizards at MLL Championship Weekend.
“I got a lot of points in transition,” Danowski said. “You don’t get five assists without guys finishing their passes. So we were shooting the ball well. The reason I get those points is because the people around me are playing really well. It was definitely a team effort.”
Danowski also helped his teammate Tim Goettelmann break Major league Lacrosse’s all-time goals record. He assisted Goettelmann on both the record tying and breaking goals late in the fourth quarter.
“He was really excited and all of the guys were pumped for him. I was going to get him that one inside no matter what,” Danowski said of the record-breaking goal. “As soon as I got it, I was going to throw it to him. So Timmy did a nice little back door cut to catch and finish. I was really happy to see him get it in front of all of his family and friends from Long island.”
McClay was named the Defensive Player of the Week for his unyielding effort in a 16-5 victory over the Denver Outlaws. The win secured the Cannons as the MLL regular season champions. McClay helped the Cannons defense hold one of the league’s top offenses to just five goals, the lowest goal total for any team in a single game during the 2010 regular season. He credits good play by goalie Kip Turner for much of the defense's success. Turner had 17 saves.
“Kip playing well allowed us to play a little bit more aggressively,” McClay said. “We were getting all over their hands and flying around the field. When the ball was on the ground, there were 2 or 3 Cannons guys trying to come up with it. That’s the key to success in the defensive end.”
McClay scooped up a game-high nine groundballs. He also tallied his first goal of the season, three minutes into the third quarter. It was just his fifth goal of his seven-year career.
“That felt good,” McClay said of scoring the goal. “I usually look to pass the ball to guys who know how to shoot, when I do take the ball over the midline. I looked at every possible person to pass the ball to on that play. No one ended up sliding to me, so I just figured I’d shoot it.”
McClay’s personal life has been through a bit of a roller coaster ride as of late. His effort comes just one week after he helped Team USA win the gold medal at the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship, in Manchester, England. While in England, McClay celebrated the birth of his first child, who was born back at home during the games.
“It’s been pretty hectic. It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks,” said McClay. “A lot of travel, not getting as much sleep as I usually do, with the baby being home. It’s been crazy and it will be something I will never forget.”
His teammate, Max Quinzani, was named the Rookie of the Week in the victory. Quinzani tallied three goals and an assist in the victory.
“Max is a very smart player,” says Cannons head coach Bill Daye. “Max had three great goals, he had a couple of assists and that’s the kind of play we need from him.”
The former Duke star was the third pick in the 2010 Major League Lacrosse draft by the Boston Cannons. Just six games into his professional career, he has scored 10 goals and has five assists. He leads all rookies in goals this season.
“That’s why we drafted him,” said Daye. “He is a great off ball player and he finishes it. That’s what he did at Duke and that’s what we expect of him here.”
Playoff teams set, matchups TBD
Boston and Denver have clinched the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the MLL Championship Weekend Aug. 21-22, but just who they face in the semifinals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium remains undetermined. As it currently stands, the top-seeded Cannons would face Chesapeake and the Outlaws would face Long Island. Those two opponents could flip-flop, however, with a Bayhawks win over Boston and a Lizards loss to Toronto this weekend.