Boston, MA - As Michael Buffer would say, “It’s time for the main event.” The lacrosse world is headed out to Denver this weekend for MLL Championship Weekend. The first seeded Chesapeake Bayhawks take on the fourth seeded Atlanta Blaze, in the first semifinal on Friday at 5PM (MT). In the second game, the hometown favorite Denver Outlaws matchup against the Boston Cannons at 8PM (MT). Both games will be played at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPNEWS. It’s going to be a great weekend in Denver. Here are some storylines to watch on Friday.
Chesapeake Bayhawks Vs. Atlanta Blaze
The Bayhawks come into the playoffs feeling good after winning their final two regular season games. Meanwhile, the Blaze are looking to turn the page following a two-game losing streak to end their 2019 campaign.
- Season Series: The Bayhawks won the regular season series with the Blaze 2-1. Atlanta won their first matchup on June 29th, beating the Bayhawks 19-10. Chris Madalon was the star in the one, making 21 saves on 31 shots. The second and third games went to the Bayhawks. Chesapeake was guided by MVP candidate Lyle Thompson, who combined for 11 points in the two games.
- Battle at the X: It may seem like we talk about the importance of faceoffs every week…because we do, they’re that important. This game is no different as Alex Woodall for the Blaze goes up against Kenny Massa for the Bayhawks. Massa holds the edge when it comes to season faceoff percentage (55.06% compared to Woodall’s 50.00%), and head-to-head percentage. Massa has won 38 of 67 faceoffs against Woodall this year for a percentage of 56.72%.
- Special Teams: The Blaze and the Bayhawks are tied for first in MLL with a man up percentage of 44%. The Blaze, however, have a significant advantage due to the fact that Chesapeake is last in MLL with a man down percentage of only 54.55%. Look for the Blaze to try and draw some penalties in order to exploit the Bayhawks on man up situations.
Boston Cannons Vs. Denver Outlaws:
Both teams come in the postseason with tons to play for. The Outlaws are trying to become the first MLL team to repeat as MLL Champions since the 2012-13 Chesapeake Bayhawks. Meanwhile, the Cannons are trying to win their first title since 2011.
- Season Series: The Outlaws took two out of three from the Cannons this season. The first two games were very close, with Denver native, Zach Runberg, scoring the game winning goal with seconds left in the Outlaws 17-16 win on June 29th. On August 13th, the Cannons avenged the previous loss winning 16-13 in a game that Dillon Ward struggled mightily in. The Outlaws got the last laugh on August 31st when they blew out the Cannons by a score of 22-9.
- Battle on the Ground: In their previous three matchups this season, the Outlaws have been dominant on the ground, scooping up 46 (140-94) more ground balls than the Cannons. From a season perspective, the Outlaws and Cannons actually rank first and second in total groundballs. The Cannons have to make sure there isn’t as large of a groundball disparity this time around.
- The Noise Factor: Although not officially, this game counts as a de facto home game for the Outlaws. The team is planning an “orange out” to encourage Outlaws fans to pack the house in their favorite teams colors. It will be interesting to see if the Cannons can drown out the noise or if the Outlaws will have a real “home field advantage.”