The Denver Outlaws (8-4) look to bounce back against the Chesapeake Bayhawks (4-8) on Thursday after dropping a high-scoring overtime game against the Ohio Machine on Saturday, 23-22.
Despite the loss, the Outlaws clinched a playoff berth for the 2014 MLL Playoffs. Denver has made the playoffs for the ninth time in as many years as a franchise and is the only MLL franchise to secure a playoff berth in each year of existence.
The Bayhawks sit tied for last place in the league’s standings, whereas the Outlaws sit a game back of first place. Denver will be playing to try and clinch homefield advantage for the playoffs. The Outlaws will need to win at Chesapeake and for the New York Lizards to lose this weekend in order to lock up homefield advantage.
Despite the Bayhawks record, Denver head coach B.J. O’Hara isn’t looking past this game.
“I think Chesapeake showed on Sunday against New York that they’re not going to roll over for anybody,” O’Hara said. “They played an awfully inspired game, particularly the way they came back to win that one at the end. We’ve got to expect them to be at their best and obviously we’re going to have to match that. We have a lot on the line… We’ve got to worry about the game we’re playing on any particular evening. We can’t worry about the outcome and what’s at stake. We’ve just got to play the best we can that night.’”
The Bayhawks are coming off a one-point victory over the Lizards.
The Outlaws are 10-4 against the Bayhawks’ franchise all time and beat them at home earlier this year, 9-6.
Chesapeake’s attack is led by Brendan Mundorf and Drew Westervelt, who have 17 and 16 goals, respectively. The Bayhawks also feature Joe Walters who is tied for fifth in the league in assists with 19 on the year.
On the defensive side, Chesapeake has given up the second fewest goals in the league this season. Goalie Kip Turner’s 11.65 goals against average per game and his .552 save percentage both rank second in the MLL amongst goalies with significant minutes.
“I don’t think that we want to get into a shoving match with their close defense,” O’Hara said. “I’m sure that our attackmen will wear some extra pads this week. But I don’t think that necessarily changes our approach on how we attack. We’re still going to go after the midfield and try to get things moving.”