TRADE: Cannons LC acquire attackman Matt Kavanagh

By Sarah Griffin | Nov 4, 2022

Just eight days since the league’s trade window opened, the first move of the offseason has been made as the Cannons LC acquired veteran attackman Matt Kavanagh from the Redwoods in exchange for attackman John Piatelli and defenseman Matt Rahill

“After the season ended, we as a staff evaluated where we are and what we need to do to make improvements going into 2023. With the trade window opening and free agency down the road, one of the first things that we wanted to address was our offense,” said Cannons head coach Sean Quirk. “Adding a player like Matt Kavanagh adds a huge amount to our attack unit with Lyle and Asher.”

Cannons LC receive: Matt Kavanagh

A seasoned and consummate professional on and off the field, Kavanagh brings experience and leadership as a proven winner to this young Cannons team. 

Throughout the course of his seven-year professional lacrosse career, Kavanagh’s produced 229 points with 134 goals and 93 assists. He won two championships with the Denver Outlaws in the MLL in 2016 and 2018, and is third all-time in pro lacrosse playoff points with 49.

Kavanagh joined the inaugural Redwoods team in 2019. He put up 24 points in 9 games, with 15 goals including his first pro career two-pointer along with 8 assists. He played a big role in the Redwoods’ run for the first ever PLL title, with 7 points in the playoffs headlined by his 4-point game in the Championship. Despite the ultimately disappointing results, Kavanagh solidified his role as a mainstay on the Redwoods attack alongside his former college teammate Ryder Garnsey as well as Jules Heningburg

In some ways, Kavanagh was the heartbeat of the Redwoods - he thrived under pressure. If they needed someone to come up big for them in crucial moments, Kavanagh was their guy. His first pro career two-pointer came at a timely moment, as he beat the buzzer right before the half in a must-win game for the Woods to boost their score differential and clinch a playoff spot.

“He’s always been a clutch, clutch player and competitor,” remarked Quirk. “He’s played in a lot of big games and he’s a great leader in the locker room…we have a really young team and to add somebody like Matt of his pedigree? He’s a winner.”

Coming off a disappointing 1-9 season, Kavanagh may not be the solution to all the Cannons’ problems, but he’s a good start. 

Throughout the course of the season, the only consistent names on the Cannons roster on the offensive end were Ryan Drenner, rookie Asher Nolting, and of course, Lyle Thompson. Outside of those three, we saw a carousel of players in and out of the lineup on both attack and in the midfield. With so much turnover, the Cannons’ O failed to ever get in a groove. 

It’s no secret when you have Lyle Thompson on your team, you build around him. Since joining the Cannons, statistically speaking Lyle’s favorite targets have been Drenner, Shayne Jackson, and Mark Cockerton. Of those three, both Jackson and Cockerton shoot left-handed. Lyle assisted on 3 of Jackson’s goals on 14 shots, and 4 of Cockerton’s goals on 12 shots. Lefty Kavanagh is certainly in good company, primed for quite a few layups from Lyle. 

“He’ll excel there. Guys gravitate towards him,” praised Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent. “From the bottom of my heart, if I was going to trade him anywhere, I had to move him to a spot where he could truly excel and his strengths could show. I just felt like this was it.”

St. Laurent and Quirk aren’t the only ones who think the change will be beneficial for Kavanagh’s game. Quirk called Lyle before he made the trade for his input on the move.

“Lyle’s one of our leaders, one of our captains, and he’s really excited to play with Matt. Matt has the ability to be a ball carrier, and to be a threat with the ball in his stick, but he’s also excellent off-ball. He can play a really important role in that regard on our offense, and especially alongside Lyle.” 

Coming off his worst season in his professional career, a change of scenery will be good for Kavanagh. He’ll be an established role player on this Cannons attack, and his hard-nosed mentality, particularly on the ride, sets a good example for this young team.

“Our guys classify themselves as a ‘gritty team’ and Matt really exemplifies that gritiness. He’s a tough, selfless player and those are all qualities along with his lacrosse abilities that will add so much to the Cannons,” said Quirk. 

Redwoods receive: John Piatelli and Matt Rahill

Undrafted, the Cannons picked up John Piatelli a couple weeks before the start of training camp. The Cornell attackman led all of the NCAA in total goals in 2022, averaging 3.56 goals per game. He’s a versatile attackman who can bring a new dimension to a Redwoods attack that at times felt redundant. 

Piatelli never got a chance to play for the Cannons. Now he’ll get an opportunity to compete for that spot on the right side with Ryan Lee and Joe Robertson

“Rob and I and my staff - we talked about it last year during the draft that we were shocked he wasn’t picked up,” said St. Laurent. “You look at some of the goals he scored [in college] and how he did it…I got really excited.”

The Redwoods also acquired defenseman Matt Rahill. Rahill finished his graduate year at Maryland with 28 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers. An integral part of Maryland’s backend, Rahill’s game embodies that infamous Terps defense. 

Another undrafted rookie, in his first professional season Rahill played in just five games for the Cannons. He picked up 9 ground balls and 1 caused turnover. 

Just like with Piatelli, there’s much more room for opportunity and growth on the Redwoods for Rahill. Though their backend is known for that systemic Notre Dame defense, Rahill can bring a much-needed change after their worst year statistically. He also fills an obvious positional need for the Woods.

“We’ve got so many left-handed defensemen,” said St. Laurent. “It’s important for us to have another righty.”

Though we still haven’t seen a big enough sample size to evaluate Rahill at the professional level, his potential on this defense led by Eddy Glazener and Garret Epple could be quite impactful for the Woods.