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Zac Tucci (No. 4) had a career performance Saturday against the Waterdogs.

Tucci, Cannons Spoil Waterdogs' Philadelphia Homecoming

June 15, 2024
Justin Feil
Premier Lacrosse League

VILLANOVA, Pa. — An underdog took down the Waterdogs.

Let go by the Philadelphia franchise after playing five games over two years since signing as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina, Zac Tucci won the opening faceoff of overtime and scored his team-leading fourth point five seconds later for a 12-11 Boston Cannons win Saturday at Villanova University to spoil the start of the first Homecoming Weekend for the Waterdogs.

“Last year didn’t pan out the way I wanted to, so that’s why I switched teams, going from the Waterdogs to this team,” Tucci said. “So that felt pretty good.”

Boston coach Brian Holman expected Tucci to win the faceoff. He told him if he didn’t have a good look, to ‘chuck it over the goal and let’s get our offense set up.’ Tucci’s speed gave him a good look and he did the rest to win it.

“I thank God that he’s a lot smarter than I am,” Holman said. “We felt like we were going to win.”

Boston improved to 2-1, one game behind the New York Atlas for tops in the Eastern Conference, while the Waterdogs fell to 0-2 heading into Sunday’s second game against the also-winless Maryland Whipsnakes.

Boston recovered from a slow start to grab its first lead on a two-point goal from Matt Campbell, the Villanova graduate who celebrated his own homecoming with three points, tied for second on the Cannons with Asher Nolting behind Tucci’s unexpected offensive production.

“I’m really proud of Zac because he’s lived up to everything that he told me he was going to do, and that’s what I love about our organization,” Holman said.

Tucci has been biding his time since coming to Boston. He didn’t play in the first game, a 19-12 loss to New York when the Cannons went 7-for-32 at the dot. He then went 11-for-24 in last week’s 13-9 win over the Whipsnakes, as Boston adjusted to playing with the FOGO. He finished 18-for-24 with 13 ground balls against the Waterdogs.

“What I knew I was getting with that guy was guts,” Holman said. “There’s a guy that’s committed, a guy that told me on the phone, ‘I’m going to devote my life to this sport right now because it’s the thing that I want to do.’”

Tucci gave Boston plenty of possession, which it needed with 24 turnovers in the game.

That forced Colin Kirst to make 15 saves in front of a defense still adjusting to the preseason loss of Jack Kielty. Kirst outdueled Dillon Ward, who had 13 saves for the Waterdogs. 

Tucci enjoyed his best day as a pro at the expense of the Waterdogs, who broke out to a 3-1 lead, were overtaken, but then fought back with a third-quarter run and a last-second goal to force overtime. Hometown product Michael Sowers led all scorers with eight points with a hat trick and five assists, none bigger than when he found Ryan Conrad for a score with 0.8 seconds left in regulation.


Conrad scored twice. Kieran McArdle had four goals and two assists.

Philadelphia countered Tucci with Zach Currier, who was 6-for-20 on faceoffs and scored one goal, because they are not carrying a faceoff specialist on their roster and seem content to keep an extra skill player rostered rather than a FOGO.

“I still believe that that shot clock being at 32 seconds puts the pressure on the offense,” Waterdogs coach Bill Tierney said. “I'll have to see what the stats look like, but other than a couple of fast-break goals, I thought it worked fine.”

The Waterdogs got out to an early lead when McArdle fed Connor Kelly for a power-play goal. Tucci skipped in his first PLL goal immediately after he won the next faceoff, and Matt Kavanagh tied the score at 3 for Boston.

After McCardle opened the second-quarter scoring with a quick misdirection goal, Campbell scored a two-point goal in the closing seconds of Boston’s extra-man opportunity to give the Cannons their first lead of the game at 5-4.

When Sowers pumped in a deep shot with 4.1 seconds left in the first half, it looked like it would be a one-goal game going into halftime. Tucci had other ideas. He won the ensuing faceoff, burst forward, spun and fired in a Hail Mary from 30 yards away as the buzzer sounded for an 8-5 lead.

“It was fun watching everybody go out there and mob Zac,” Holman said.

Tucci finished 10-for-12 on faceoffs in the first half, and he created a pair of goals.

After falling behind 10-7 on Pat Kavanagh’s second goal of the game, Sowers and McArdle connected on three straight to tie it for the Waterdogs. Campbell’s goal one minute into the fourth quarter gave Boston a one-goal lead that stood until McArdle’s shot from the right wing was blocked by Boston defenseman Garrett Epple with seconds left, but Philadelphia got the rebound, sent it to Sowers at X who found a cutting Conrad at the doorstep to send it to overtime.

The buzz from the home crowd was barely subsiding when Tucci ended the game.

“He’s starting to show a little bit of what we want it to look like,” Holman said. “We’ve got some other things in the works that might help us along the way.”


Connor Fields and Tom Schreiber scored the only goals of the fourth quarter, and the Utah Archers defense locked for goalie Brett Dobson, leading the Archers to a 9-7 win.

Dobson made 15 saves (68.2 percent).

Carolina led 5-2 with 7:23 left in the second quarter when Eric Dobson finished a Josh Byrne feed, but Utah scored the next three goals — two from Ryan Ambler and one from Mac O'Keefe — to tie the score at 5 by halftime.

Carolina and Utah traded scores in the third quarter to enter the final frame tied at 7.