By Paul Ryan | 10/23/13 2:45 PM
The Denver Outlaws had the most successful regular season in MLL history in 2013, but still came up short of the Steinfield Trophy in the end. A perfect 14-0 record was wiped clean come playoff time, as the .500 Charlotte Hounds made the most of the one-game semifinal, defeating the Outlaws 17-14.
Denver started the year off with a three-game road trip, beating up on Charlotte, Ohio and Boston, then traveled home for a three-game home stand. After winning the first two contests, the sixth game of the year featured a match-up between the Outlaws and the Hamilton Nationals, both of whom had 5-0 records coming into the game. This proved to be a statement game for Denver, as they won 22-9, their third straight 20+ goal game.
The rest of the season consisted of even more blowouts, including a 19-5 thrashing of the Ohio Machine. Denver would not play a one-goal game all year. The closest contest of the season for the Outlaws was a 14-12 win over Chesapeake in Week 12, a game where Denver held a four-goal advantage until late in the game. Denver won nine of their 14 contests by five or more goals. Safe to say, Denver absolutely dominated the regular season this year.
The Outlaws were unable to capitalize on the momentum, however, come playoff time. Charlotte outscored Denver 8-2 in the first quarter, and the Outlaws were never able to recover. Despite a record-breaking nine-goal performance by rookie Eric Law, the Outlaws were ousted in the first round for the third time in four years.
Law was a pleasant surprise for the Outlaws offensively this season. The fourth-round, 29th overall pick in the 2013 draft tore up the league upon his arrival mid-season, recording 34 points in just 9 games. Despite the impressive numbers, Law finished fifth on the team in points, with four others registering 40 points or more. Chris Bocklet shared the scoring title, ending up with 55 points, while Drew Snider, Jeremy Sieverts and Brendan Mundorf earned 46, 44 and 41 points, respectively.
In net, goaltender Jesse Schwartzman had a record-breaking season, setting a new league record for goals against average at 9.67, breaking his own record. Schwartzman is the only goalie in MLL history to post a goals against average under 10 (he did it in 2011 as well). Schwartzman also set a new Outlaws record with a .597 save percentage, which ranks 8th all-time in MLL history.
As a team, the Outlaws set the bar in pretty much every category. Denver led the league in goals scored, goals against, powerplay goals and penalty kill percentage. Their 226 goals scored are just one shy of the all-time league record held by Baltimore (2005) and Long Island (2002) while their 136 goals against is tied for fifth-fewest all-time.
The Outlaws' perfect regular season was rewarded with several annual awards including Brine Coach of the Year for Jim Stagnitta and Warrior Goalie, Most Improved and Defensive for Schwartzman, Drew Snider and Lee Zink respectively. Several players also were named to the LACROSSE.com MLL All-Pro Team with Chris Bocklet, Brendan Mundorf and Jeremy Sieverts joining Schwartzman and Zink on the annual list.
It truly was an unbelievable regular season for the Outlaws, but the early exit from the postseason will leave a bad taste in their mouth for the next seven months. The Outlaws are no stranger to regular season success, but their lack of a championship will make them only hungrier next season. The offseason trade for John Grant Jr. and Michael Simon will bring championship experience to the team and could very well be the final move that puts them over the hump.