Boston Cannons rookie Pat Kavanagh

Turning the page: Pat Kavanagh scores first pro goal in Cannons victory

By Sarah Griffin | Jun 10, 2024

If you ask Pat Kavanagh what he remembers from his first professional lacrosse game, he’d probably tell you not much.

“Last week was probably the craziest week of my life,” the Boston Cannons rookie said. “... It was just such a blur. There was so much going on, I was running on not a great few nights of sleep – it was a lot.”

From the NCAA national championship game on Memorial Day, to the Tewaaraton Award ceremony on Thursday, to his first pro game on Saturday, it was a whirlwind of a week for the 24-year-old. 

With one practice under his belt with his new team at a new level, Cannons head coach and general manager Brian Holman admitted he felt like he threw Kavanagh “into the shark tank” in Boston’s season opener in Albany. The worn-out Notre Dame product didn’t feel like himself.

“I was just kind of shot out of a cannon out of the box last week,” Kavanagh laughed. “I had no poise. I was just trying to use my speed and played way too fast.”

Maybe it wasn’t the most memorable pro debut. But this past Saturday made up for it. 

Kavanagh said the message Coach Holman told him headed into the weekend was simply to “turn the page.” Feeling much more rested and prepared, he and the Cannons entered Charlotte with one goal in mind: win. 

Boston’s offense looked discombobulated and forced in its loss to the New York Atlas in Week 1, a far cry from the league-best offense the Cannons were only a summer ago. With the same cast returning from last year along with a couple of new faces like Kavanagh in the lineup, it was only a matter of time before they found their rhythm.

The Cannons dominated possession time in the first quarter, a night-and-day difference from the weekend prior. Running out of the box, Kavanagh inserted himself seamlessly into Boston’s offense. Right from the get-go Saturday night, it never looked like he was a rookie learning a new position, trying to establish a role for himself and acclimate to a new pace of play. He played with speed, poise and comfortability. 

“I wasn’t gripping my stick as tight,” he said.

A signature one-two punch from Asher Nolting to Marcus Holman opened the scoring for the Cannons, and the Maryland Whipsnakes quickly responded with a goal of their own. But even with the score tied up 1-1, Boston’s offense was buzzing around the Whipsnakes in the first quarter.

After a shot clock violation by Maryland, Garrett Epple found Kavanagh wheeling out of the box to push the ball into the offensive end. Kavanagh looked as if he considered going for the net for a split second. But he settled down in the top right instead with Whipsnakes long-stick midfielder Colin Squires on him and made the pass to Connor Kirst at the top of the arc. 

Kirst chucked the ball down to Kavanagh’s older brother, Matt, who found Ryan Drenner behind the net. As Drenner rounded the crease in what appeared to be an incoming force feed, it instead became a bounce pass to Pat, who was sitting wide open in the top right. 

As soon as the ball hit his stick, Pat cranked a step-down shot past Brendan Krebs with no hesitation. By the time Squires slid to him, the rookie was already fist-pumping in celebration of his first professional goal. 

His teammates, including his brother, immediately swarmed him with resounding enthusiasm from everyone on the sidelines and on the defensive end. Nolting made sure to grab the ball for Pat as a commemoration of his milestone.

“Always a special moment grabbing that ball from the back of the cage as a keepsake,” broadcaster Ryan Boyle said. “One of many to come for sure.” 

As if notching his first pro goal wasn’t enough, Pat buried his second early in the fourth quarter as part of a 9-0 Boston run. 

It was a night to remember for Pat and the Cannons, who went on to win 13-9 for their first victory of the season. The message was to turn the page, and he did just that. Now it’s time for the rest of the league to take note and think twice before they leave Pat Kavanagh wide open.