The only thing that prevented them from repeating was their schedule. They faced the Philadelphia Spinners once at home and twice on the road. In each of those matches the home team was victorious, resulting in both teams' only losses on the season. Had Boston had two home games and one road, odds are there would be a different script to the 2016 season. After all, Boston is 20-2 all-time at home.
Much of the off-season was centered around the losses of Jeff Graham and Josh Markette. Graham, who has had one of the most prestigious careers in professional ultimate history, was the face of the Whitecaps since his 2013 Championship MVP performance. Markette, who had been around just as long as Graham, was the handler responsible for their offense initiation.
Losing those two stars opened the doors for new free agents from around the league to come to town as they welcomed Andrew Hooker and Nick Thompson from the San Francisco Dogfish, Frederik Brasz from the Spinners, and Rob Baker from the New York Rumble.
Instead of looking to directly fill those roles left void by Graham and Markette, the team took a different direction and spread the disc out more. Opening up the field to multiple players, kept the Washington D.C. Current and New York Rumble stumbling to control mismatches. The only team that could match them was the only team with the same philosophy.
Sure the team still had playmakers; Christian Foster, Tyler Chan, Jake Taylor, and Jack Hatchett were some of the top players in the league in 2015. However, without their two anchors, the team struggled to constantly move the disc across the whole field. It led to many forced throws and uncharacteristic turnovers for this Whitecaps team, leaving them vulnerable to a veteran Spinners squad.
The team was actually one quarter away from advancing from their third MLU Championship game. In the Eastern Conference Championship they were ahead 15-14 heading into the final 10 minutes of the game. The Spinners however, completely took over and the Whitecaps simply lacked some poise that they have had their entire franchise's history. With a 6-1 run, Philadelphia finally overtook Boston and ended the Whitecaps season.
vs. Rumble: 3-0 PD: +32
vs. D.C. Current: 2-0 PD: +6
vs. Stags: 1-0 PD: +1
vs. Spinners: 1-2 (0-1) PD: -5 (-4)
While no one player could replace the value of Graham and Markette, the Whitecaps had more than formidable substitutes. Jake Taylor, who was the secondary handler behind Markette for two seasons, stepped into the empty primary handler role. Here, he struggled with his consistency. Although he scored three goals, threw 10 assists, and got three blocks, he led his team in turnovers, 19, which was also the most of his career.
To fill Graham's role another experienced veteran, Piers MacNaughton (19 goals, 13 assists, eight blocks) moved up, nearly doubling his playing time. He was a consistent cutter on the season (his block total is skewed with three coming against the Rumble in a 32-15 victory) and led the team in scoring despite only playing eight games.
It was a big loss not having MacNaughton for their playoff game.
With Taylor and MacNaughton the team managed to take care of business against the lower tier teams. The newcomers Thompson (eight goals, five assists), Hooker (three assists, four blocks), Brasz (seven assists, nine blocks), and Baker (seven goals, nine blocks) contributed instantly and worked integrated themselves into the system.
A problem other Eastern Conference teams will have to deal with in 2017 will be the young phenom of Tannor Johnson. It was Johnson's second season with the team, but he did not join until Week 9 of the regular season. At only 19-years-old, Johnson scored 17 goals in two games, 13 of those coming against the Rumble in Week 11. It was well documented by the MLU's 15 for 15, in which he also added two assists and set the MLU single game scoring record.
Team MVP: Piers MacNaughton
(19G, 13A, 8B, 91/107 throws, 0.685 TPOP)
Team Star: Christian Foster (2 weeks)
Team Rookie of the Year: Carter Thallon
(13G, 5A, 1B, 54/56 throws, 0.648 TPOP)