By William Griffin | 8/10/13 6:40 PM
Undefeated, 14 and 0, perfection. The Denver Outlaws finish the regular season without a loss, the first time that’s ever been accomplished in Major League Lacrosse, after defeating the Hamilton Nationals Saturday afternoon, by a score of 18-12.
The game was at its closest in the first quarter, as Chris Bocklet of the Outlaws opened the scoring with a goal assisted by Terry Kimener to give the visitors an early lead. Hamilton’s Jordan Hall responded with a tally of his own, off a helper from MLL assist leader, Joe Walters, but rookie Eric Law scored for the Outlaws, to regain the lead, 2-1. After a game tying goal from Hamilton’s Kevin Crowley, a two-point goal from Jeremy Sieverts and a power play goal from Drew Snider put the Outlaws ahead by three, 5-2, heading into the second quarter.
Denver continued their run in the second stanza, scoring four goals in the first seven minutes. Chris Bocklet scored a power play goal of a Law assist, Zach Greer tallied off a dish from Kimener, Drew Snider netted an unassisted goal, Law ripped a power play goal off a Bocklet assist and Will Mangan assisted Drew Snider on a power play goal to give the unbeaten squad a nine goal lead, 11-2. Hamilton continued to fight, however, as Joe Walters and Crowley scored the period’s final two goals to chip away at Denver’s lead and steal back a little bit of the momentum heading into the locker rooms at 11-4.
Any time in the third period that Denver scored, Hamilton seemed to turn right around and match it. The Outlaws opened up the quarter with an unassisted goal from Kimener, less than a minute into the match to extend their lead to eight, but Hamilton’s Kevin Cunningham responded less than two minutes later, with a goal of his own, off a Cody Jamieson assist, bringing the deficit back down to seven. Two more goals for Denver, a power play tally for Law, his third goal of the game, and an unassisted goal from Pennington stretched the Denver lead to nine, but again, Hamilton countered with unassisted goals from Walters and Jeremy Thompson, ending the third quarter with the Nationals trailing by seven, 14-9.
Hamilton made a real push in the fourth quarter to threaten the Denver lead and the perfect regular season, as they started off with two quick goals, a power play goal from Cunningham off a Jamieson assist and Jamieson goal of a Crowley assist, to shrink the Outlaws lead to five, with almost 13 minutes to play. Hamilton could feel it, they were getting hot, and they had a chance to spoil Denver’s perfect season and go into the playoffs with the momentum. But, Denver did what they’ve done all season. They responded with two quick goals, one from Law and another from Bocklet, less than a minute apart, to stretch the lead back to seven, and put an end to the serious possibility of a Hamilton comeback. The teams traded goals the rest of the game, with Crowley and Cunningham scoring for the Nationals and Kimener and Bocklet for the Outlaws, to give Denver the win.
Outlaws goaltender, Jesse Schwartzman, played stellar in the net, with 16 saves on 27 shots, allowing only 11 goals. After today’s game, Schwartzman’s Goals Against Average (GAA) is 9.67 goals a game, setting a new Major League Lacrosse record for the best single season GAA. While GAA is a goaltender stat, it shows how well the defense played in front of the Outlaws netminder. Lee Zink, Matt Bocklet, Dillon Roy and all the others that played defense for Denver were critical in helping Schwartzman set the record and allowing this Outlaws team to finish the regular season undefeated.
Neither team plays next week, as it’s a bye week before Championship Weekend, presented by Smartlink, in Philadelphia. Denver had previously secured the number one seed and will play in the first semi-final game, August 24, at 1:00 p.m. ET. With the loss, Hamilton cold lose the number two seed, but they are guaranteed to be at least the three seed, meaning that they will play in the second semifinal at 4:00 p.m. the same day. Each team will find out their opponents after the conclusion of the Charlotte at Chesapeake game tonight in Annapolis; Charlotte and Chesapeake are the two other squads who made the playoffs. Denver’s game, the first semifinal, will be televised live on ESPN2 and Hamilton’s game, the second semifinal, will be televised live on CBS Sports Network. The Championship game, which will take place on Sunday August 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET, will be televised live on ESPN2. For more information and to purchase tickets for Champ Weekend, visit http://www.majorleaguelacrosse.com/championship-weekend.
· Denver becomes the first team ever to finish an MLL regular season undefeated
· Denver’s 226 goals on the season fall one short of tying the ’05 Bayhawks and ’02 Lizards for most ever in a season
· Schwartzman sets the MLL single season record for GAA at 9.67
· With Crowley’s 6 points and Bocklet’s 5, they are now tied for the most points in the league, leading third place Paul Rabil by six, who has a chance to surpass them tonight
· Bocklet’s 42 goals lead the league; Crowley is second with 38. The next highest has 32, meaning that to surpass Bocklet for the season crown, Drew Westervelt or Matt Danowski would have to net more than 10 goals tonight
· Walters sits atop the league in assists, with 26, 4 ahead of teammate Cunningham and 6 ahead of Steele Stanwick who has a chance tonight to top Walters’ 26 tonight
· Sieverts leads the league in 2 point goals with 6
· Law’s 24 goals are top 5 ever for rookies and his 34 points are top 10
· Bocklet’s 8 extra-man goals this season and 42 goals are both Outlaws records
· Game MVP: Eric Law