By William Griffin | 7/27/13 6:15 PM
The Denver Outlaws remain undefeated on the season after beating the reigning Major League Lacrosse Champions, the Chesapeake Bayhawks, by a score of 14-12 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Saturday afternoon win moves the Outlaws to 12-0, clinching them the number one seed at MLL Championship Weekend, presented by Smartlink.
Denver midfielder Jeremy Sieverts opened up the scoring for the Outlaws with a turn around shot, which he stuck in the top left corner just 43 seconds into the game. That would be it for the Outlaws in the quarter though, as they struggled to find the back of the net. Chesapeake’s Drew Westervelt scored a power play goal off a John Grant Jr. assist, to tie it up at one. The goal must have sparked something for the Bayhawks attackman, as he quickly scored another off a Jesse Schwartzman turnover, and again just a minute later to complete a natural hat trick. Chesapeake’s Michael Kimmel scored in the final minute of the period with a dodge down the alley, to extend the Bayhawks lead to 4-1 heading into the second quarter.
The second started with more of the same, Chesapeake’s Ben Hunt took advantage of the Outlaws struggles, beating Schwartzman off an assist from Casey Powell to make it 5-1. Denver Coach Jim Stagnitta called a timeout after his team’s difficult start, trying to spark something in his squad. Whatever Stagnitta said, worked. Sieverts ripped a shot past Kip Tuner, burying it in the top right corner. Then, Drew Snider scored two goals, one after a beautiful roll doge off a fake pass, to bring the score to 5-4, Chesapeake. Sieverts scored his third goal of the game, after beating his defender on a right to left dodge to tie it up at five. With under a minute left in the half, Ben Rubeor possessed a rebound off a Hunt shot and put it in to give the Bayhawks a 6-5 lead, heading into the locker room.
Unlike the first half, which predominantly saw long runs of goal scoring, the third quarter was very much back and forth. Casey Powell took advantage of a shorty matchup, dodged from behind the cage and scored to increase the Chesapeake lead by two. Denver responded shortly after with two transition goals from Justin Pennington and faceoff man Anthony Kelly, evening the game at seven apiece, less than five minutes into the second half. Westervelt scored just minutes later, his first goal since his first quarter hat trick, on a low to high shot off a Hunt assist. Will Mangan of the Outlaws responded, though, with a transition goal assisted by long stick Dillon Roy, who carried the ball all the way down field, tying the game, 8-8. After, Chesapeake’s Kimmel came around the crease, used Pennington as a screen, and scored with little angle, the Bayhawks held a one goal advantage. On the other end, Turner stopped a Kimner shot, but the ball rebounded to the right of the crease, where Chesapeake’s Evans attempted to kick it to Turner, but the ball ended up going into the net; the goal was credited to Kimener. With that blunder of the Bayhawks, and a Sieverts goal right after, Denver possessed a one point lead with a minute of play left in the third. The quarter wasn’t over, however, as Chesapeake’s Matt Abbott scooped up the ground ball from the faceoff, and took it the distance to score, tying the game up at ten a piece, heading into the final quarter.
Denver took control of the game early in the fourth, with goals from Greer, off an alley dodge, and Mangan, off a rip just inside the arc, giving the Outlaws their first two point lead of the day. Pennigton added to the lead with a shot off a textbook question mark doge that stung the top right corner, and Kimner assisted Snider for another, after beautifully scooping up a ground ball in a mess in front of the net. The goals gave the Outlaws a four point lead, their largest of the game. Chesapeake found it in themselves, however, to fight back from the deficit with a Steven Brooks goal, off a give and go from Kimel, and another off a beautiful crease dive by Abbott, cutting the Outlaw lead to two with less than five minutes to play.
The suspense in the stadium was high after a few minutes of terrific defense. The Outlaws held a two point lead with little time left and their perfect season on the line. Chesapeake had a terrific chance to score, with Powell dodging to the crease, but the ball was lost and Denver took control with two minutes left. They did their best to kill the clock, and received a little help from Bayhawk defender, Brian Spallina, who’s vicious hit on rookie Eric Law, resulted in a minute long man up for Denver, with 1:16 to play. The man advantage was huge for a team trying to run down the clock, making it that much harder for Chesapeake to get the ball back. The Outlaws continued to run down the clock behind the net, but a beautiful check on Mundorf dislodged the ball and Chesapeake took over with 18 seconds left—plenty of time to get a two-point shot off, which would tie the game. Coach Cottle called a timeout and drew up a play, but it didn’t work out for the Bayahwks, as they turned it over and Schwartzman scooped up the ball launchng it 100 yards down the field as the final horn sounded. The Outlaws remained undefeated, beating the defending MLL Champions 14-12.
Denver goalie, Jesse Schwartzman, struggled at the beginning of the game. In the second quarter, however, both the Defense and Schwartzman picked it up and played stellar the rest of the game, keeping their 12-0 record unblemished. Schwartzman ended with 14 saves on 26 shots, and Chesapeake’s Kip Turner ended with 11 saves on 25 shots.
While the Bayhawks fell in this one, they are likely to still make the playoffs, where they will quite possibly face the Outlaws, who have, with today’s win, clinched the number one seed. Denver will play the number four seed in the first semifinal, Saturday August 24th at 1p.m. (ET); the second semifinal will follow at 4p.m. (ET). The Championship game will be Sunday, August 25th at 3p.m. (ET). For more information about Championship Weekend in Philadelphia, presented by Smartlink, checkout http://www.majorleaguelacrosse.com/championship-weekend/.
Next week, Chesapeake returns home to take on the Rochester Rattlers at 7p.m. (ET) Saturday night. The game can be seen regionally, but will also be broadcast on ESPN3.com. Denver heads on the road to New York, for a Sunday matchup with the Lizards. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. (ET).
· With the win, Denver clinches the number 1 seed for Championship Weekend in Philadelphia
· The game was a rematch of the 2012 MLL Championship game, in which the Bayhawks defeated the Outlaws 16-6
· That championship game loss to the Bayhawks was the last time the Outlaws have lost as they have gone 12-0 since
· Attendance: 8,235
· MVP: Jeremy Sieverts