Boston Cannons attackman Mark Cockerton provides the finishing touch

Mark Cockerton is the finisher that began the Cannons' turnaround in Major League Lacrosse.

The seven-year pro out of Virginia has started 11 games and leads the Cannons with 33 goals on 58 shots. Cockerton also have five assists and 38 total points.

Cockerton will figure significantly in coach Sean Quirk's game plan Saturday when the Cannons (7-4) host the resurgent Dallas Rattlers (4-7) at Memorial Stadium in Quincy (5 p.m.).

* He is really one of the most dynamic attackmen in the league and he is able to create a lot of shots on his own,” Quirk said. * Our whole attack unit has played well together and teams just haven't been able to focus in on Mark.”

QUINCY, MA – JUNE 29-SATURDAY: Boston Cannons' Mark Cockerton, front, winds up to shoot a goal as Denver Outlaws' Michael Rexrode, rear, defends during second quarter action at Veterans Memorial Stadium June 29, 2019, in Quincy, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

The Cannons and the Chesapeake Bayhawks are tied for first place in MLL with five games remaining. The Cannons moved into the first-place tie with a 12-11 overtime victory against the Bayhawks last Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

* Our guys play particularly well when they have a lot of pressure and a little bit more at stake,” Quirk said. * They rise to the occasion and they buckle down.

* We are facing a really tough Dallas team that started 0-7 and have won their last four. This is a much different team than the one we played the previous two times. Our guys are ready for another battle and challenge at home and are certainly excited about it.”

Cockerton was a substantial contributor to the Ohio Machine's championship run in 2017. He played in 14 games and scored 35 goals with 12 assists and 23 ground balls.

Cockerton had a falling out with the Machine after two games last season and was traded to the Cannons for attackman Davey Emala. Cockerton quickly assimilated into Quirk's system, scored 29 goals for a 4.14 per game average in seven matches.

Cockerton got in the last word when he notched eight tallies with 12 shots on goals against the Machine in the 2018 season finale.  He signed a two-year extension with the Cannons after the season.

* He was Ohio's leading goal scorer when they won the championship and for whatever reason Ohio stopped playing him,” Quirk said. * Maybe he wasn't playing as consistently as he had been and maybe that is why they made the trade.

* Once we inserted him, we realized that was the piece we were missing. He came in and lifted our attack and picked up where he left off in Ohio in 2017.”

The Cannons front end is loaded with scorers and playmakers, a numbers game that allows Cockerton greater freedom of movement in the opposing zone.

Will Sands, who has 13 goals and 23 assists in 11 games, is the Cannons rainmaker while Kyle Jackson has contributed 16 goals and five assists from the midfield. Connor O'Hara (23-2-25) and Challen Rogers (14-7-21) have provided timely secondary scoring.

* A big piece is Will Sands, who plays our quarterback position, distributes the ball to the whole attack unit,” Quirk said.