Boston Cannons faceoff specialist Zac Tucci

Top takeaways as Cannons edge rival Waterdogs in overtime thriller

By Sarah Griffin and Wyatt Miller | Jun 15, 2024

The Boston Cannons kicked off Philadelphia Waterdogs Homecoming Weekend by handing their hosts a 12-11 overtime loss Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium.

Here were our beat writers' top takeaways from a rivalry matchup that did not disappoint:

Sarah Griffin: Zac Tucci is the hero for the Cannons against his former team

There was a lot of discussion about a “revenge game” coming into this matchup, but ultimately it was faceoff specialist Zac Tucci who found vengeance against his former team. 

It was domination at the stripe for the 24-year-old. He won 18 of 24 faceoffs and scooped up 13 ground balls. Without a specialist on the Waterdogs' roster, even the best two-way midfielder in the world, Zach Currier, couldn’t answer for what was happening at the faceoff. 

But Tucci wasn't just dominating on draws. He also led Boston in scoring with four points on the day (3G, 1T). He scored his professional career goal off a faceoff win in the first quarter, then notched a Hail Mary two-pointer right at the halftime buzzer. It only was right for Tucci to be the hero for his team and cap off his perfect day with the game-winner in overtime

“That felt pretty good,” the ex-Dog said afterward. 

Even with Tucci's offensive output in the game, head coach Brian Holman didn’t plan for his faceoff specialist to be the guy to take it to the rack in the final moments.

Going into overtime, Holman knew Tucci would win the faceoff. He told him from there to chuck the ball over the goal and allow the offense to get set up. Instead, Tucci took three steps out of the chute and decided he was going to take it to the net himself.

“I thank God he’s a lot smarter than I am,” Holman laughed. 

Though Holman said the Cannons' faceoff strategy is still something they’ll address week by week, it’s safe to say Tucci earned his spot as Boston’s faceoff specialist. 

Up next for Boston: vs. Utah Archers (Friday, June 28, 9:30 p.m. ET)

Wyatt Miller: Turnovers killed the Dogs, and Sowers couldn’t save them

Turnovers killed the Waterdogs in this matchup. Whether they were failing to capitalize on gift-wrapped opportunities from the Cannons or turning the ball over unprompted, the Dogs wasted a lot of time and chances to do damage. 

The Waterdogs finished the game with 14 turnovers, only four of which were caused, meaning they gave 10 possessions away in a one-goal game. On the other end, Boston finished with 24 turnovers, 10 of which were caused by the Dogs, and Philly couldn’t turn those into points. There are very few situations where the team with 10 fewer turnovers should win the game, but that’s part of the faceoff tradeoff the Waterdogs are employing. 

Tucci’s first-half buzzer-beater from near midfield didn’t help, but that’s a microcosm of the issue. Not dressing a specialist gives those final possessions, and the first in overtime, to the opposing team, but it causes more cough-ups throughout.

Still, the Waterdogs didn’t go down without a fight. Michael Sowers and Kieran McArdle set the field on fire. They either assisted or scored on all but one Waterdogs goal, and the final three scores of the third quarter were connections between the two star attackmen. The two-man game was unstoppable. Sowers’ airborne goal on the skip pass was like a classic Sixers alley-oop, and the duo just kept cooking from there… until the fourth quarter started. 

The Dogs didn’t find twine until Ryan Conrad scored with one second remaining to send the rivalry game to overtime. It was almost poetic that Tucci, who was on the Waterdogs last season, was careful not to allow a turnover off the draw and had the last laugh after the comeback.

Up next for Philadelphia: vs. Maryland Whipsnakes (Sunday, June 16, 3 p.m. ET)