Atlas to open up season vs. Cannons: Is the latest New York-Boston rivalry brewing?

By Lauren Merola | Apr 16, 2024

There’s the Yankees-Red Sox.

The Knicks-Celtics.


And now, Atlas-Cannons.

New York and Boston. The teams and fans that love to hate each other. The perfect oxymoron. 

It’s a rivalry with great potential to pervade the PLL now that the Atlas and Cannons have found their home cities both in a region notorious for producing top-tier lacrosse talent. The two open up the 2024 season against one another June 1. The Atlas also play a second game in Albany – the Opening Weekend host city – against the Maryland Whipsnakes on June 2. In 2024, if a PLL team is visiting its home market, it will play two games in two days and one other team will have a bye weekend. In Week 1, that’s the California Redwoods.

Of course, the Atlas and Cannons have not faced one another having been affiliated with their respective state and city, but it’s natural as a New York fan to flinch at the word, “Boston,” and vice versa. Especially when you’re facing a hot Cannons team coming off a 2024 Championship Series title.

But places don’t build rivalries, people do. Historic close games, controversial calls and colorful fan engagement are what’s provided the Atlas and Cannons this rivalrous backdrop amid their first official geographically-affiliated matchup. Now the Atlas – who don’t have the edge talent-wise (pre-draft) against the Cannons – need to compete. In 2023, they lost their first game versus the Cannons 19-12 and second 14-13. Boston then sent New York home in the first round of the playoffs, 20-11. 

The nail biters are what’s needed to grow the game, and solidify a rivalry. Would the Jets and Patriots really be foes if their first-ever meetings started with the 15-game losing streak New York put fans through from 2015 to 2024?

Probably, definitely not.

The Atlas, however, are in rebuild mode, which is why they traded away Chris Gray for the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft. They have three top-10 picks in May and will likely nab one of the top college attackmen with their No. 2 selection. The New York defense has gotten younger, it’s switched in some new midfielders during free agency and has “generational” talent incoming, as coach Mike Pressler said.

It’s doing what it needs to to battle starting Opening Weekend and grow from last year’s 2-8 record. After all, wasn’t there a team that missed the playoffs in 2022 only to improve to 7-3 the next season?