Thursday, June 20, 2013

Game Preview: Ohio at Denver

By: Lopa Rahman

  Opponent: Ohio Machine (1-6)
When: Saturday, June 22, 6 p.m. MDT
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo.
Broadcast: CBS Sports (National)
All-time vs. Ohio: 3-0

Matchup: The Outlaws return home to face the Ohio Machine after defeating the Chesapeake Bayhawks 13-9 in a rematch of last year’s Steinfeld Cup Championship Game. The Outlaws beat the Machine on the road on May 4. Ohio, which opened the year with six straight losses, is coming off its first win of the season against the Rochester Rattlers.

History: Since the Machine’s inception in 2012, they have lost all three of their games against the Outlaws.

Last Week: Denver took a two-game lead atop the MLL standings with a 13-9 win against Chesapeake, the reigning national champion.

“To come out of there—considering where we were last time we played them—to come out of there with a win, go on the road against not just a good team but a team that’s battling to maintain their supremacy we’re certainly very pleased to come out of there and have a win,” Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said.

In the second professional lacrosse game of his career, rookie Eric Law led the way for Denver with five goals, earning him Player of the Game and MLL Cascade Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight week. The attackman, who graduated from the University of Denver just hours before making his MLL debut on June 8, connected on all nine shots that he took in his first two games with the Outlaws.

“[University of Denver Head Coach] Bill Tierney said [Law] is somebody that—and this is before he had his great senior year—Bill said this is a kid that’s going to fit right in with what you guys do, and you’re going to love him,” Stagnitta said. “Bill was right on all accounts, and he’s certainly a great kid….he’s a really talented all-around player. He’s got a very-well rounded game.”

In goal, Denver’s Jesse Schwartzman and Chesapeake’s Kip Turner both turned in strong performances, recording save percentages of 65.4 and 59.4, respectively.

“As well as Law played, Jesse was the one who stopped the Bayhawks’ runs and gave us a chance to win that game,” Stagnitta said.

While the Outlaws notched their seventh win of the season, the Machine snapped their six-game losing skid with their first victory of the year against the Rattlers. Joe Cummings led all scorers with five goals, and Connor Martin completed a hat trick.

When Denver Has the Ball: The Outlaws lead the MLL in goals scored with 122—32 more than the second-highest scoring team, the Charlotte Hounds. Denver boasts three of the league’s top-five points leaders. Brendan Mundorf ranks third with 28 points on the year, Drew Snider sits at fourth with a point total of 26, and Chris Bocklet rounds out the top five with 25 points. Bocklet is the second-highest scorer in the MLL with 20 goals this season.

When Ohio Has the Ball: The Machine sit at the bottom of the league in scoring offense with 56 goals on the year. Their biggest threats on the offensive end of the field are Steele Stanwick and Cummings, who have recorded 17 and 16 points this season, respectively.

When Nobody Has the Ball: Denver’s Anthony Kelly continues to rank second in the league in faceoff percentage. He has won 114-of-196 attempts for a percentage of 58.2. Ohio, by contrast, is the MLL’s bottom dweller at the X with a faceoff percentage of 42.5. Kelly went 13-of-26 (.500 pct) against the Bayhawks last weekend, while the Machine’s Eric O’Brien won 14-of-27 faceoffs (.519 pct) against the Rattlers.

Battle in Net: Saturday’s matchup will pit two of the league’s top goalies against each other. Ohio’s Brian Phipps’ goals-against average of 10.33 ranks second in the MLL, and Schwartzman follows closely behind with a goals-against average of 10.35, good for third in the league. Both goaltenders are coming off strong performances last weekend. Phipps stopped 13-of-23 (.565 pct) of Rochester’s shots on goal, while Schwartzman saved 17-of-26 (.654) of Chesapeake’s attempts. 

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