Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Game Preview: New York at Denver

By: Lopa Rahman

Midfielder Jeremy Sieverts , who scored the game-winning goal in last year's MLL Semifinal matchup against New York 
Opponent: New York Lizards
When: Thursday, July 4, 7:30 p.m. MDT
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo.
Broadcast: CBS Sports (National)
All-time vs. New York: 11-2

Matchup: The Denver Outlaws (9-0) will face the New York Lizards (3-6) for the first time this season in their annual Mile High Fourth of July. In last year’s Fourth of July game, Denver set a professional outdoor lacrosse attendance record with 30,128 fans. The Outlaws hope to have over 31,000 fans at this year’s Independence Day game and become the first team in MLL history to start a season with 10 straight wins.

“The Fourth of July game is always the best,” attackman Brendan Mundorf said. “There are a lot of fans, we’re really excited, and we want to get a win.”

Denver goalie Jesse Schwartzman in
last year's MLL Semifinal win against New York
History: The Outlaws and Lizards last met in the 2012 MLL Semifinals. After trailing 8-2 at the half, Denver notched a come-from-behind 13-12 win to advance to the Championship Game against Chesapeake, the eventual champion. The Outlaws and Lizards split their two regular-season meetings last year, but Denver dominates the series 12-2.

Schwartzman in career-best performance
against Charlotte
Last Week: Denver clinched an MLL Playoff berth with a 17-11 win against Charlotte. 

Goalie Jesse Schwartzman kept the Hounds, who entered the game ranked second in the league in scoring offense and outshot the Outlaws 37-33, largely at bay. He made a career-high 27 saves, the second-most in team history, en route to being named the Player of the Game and the Warrior Defensive Player of the Week.

“[Jesse] won the game for us,” Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said. “He made some phenomenal saves. He didn’t start out very well. I was a little concerned in the first quarter. He certainly shut the door in the second, third and fourth quarter. He was terrific.”

On the other end of the field, rookie Eric Law led the way for Denver with four goals. Mundorf, Jeremy Sieverts, and Chris Bocklet each completed a hat trick.

While the Outlaws tied the 2005 Chesapeake Bayhawks for the best start in league history with their ninth consecutive win, the Lizards lost their second game in a row. They dropped to second-to-last place in the MLL Power Rankings with their 13-10 loss to the Rochester Rattlers.

Attackman Chris Bocklet, the
leading scorer in the MLL
When Denver Has the Ball: The Outlaws lead the MLL in goals scored with 157 goals—41 more more than the Bayhawks, the second-highest scoring team. Denver boasts three of the league’s top-five points leaders. Chris Bocklet ranks first with 37 points this year, Brendan Mundorf sits at fourth with a point total of 33, and Drew Snider rounds out the top five with 32 points. Bocklet has netted a league-high 27 goals this season.

Attackman Tommy Palasek, New York's leading scorer
When New York Has the Ball: With 92 goals this year, the Lizards are the second-lowest scoring team in the MLL. Tommy Palasek is their leading scorer with 15 goals on the season, and Rob Pannell ranks second on the team in scoring with 11 goals in just five games. Pannell joined the Lizards midway through the season after leading Cornell University to the NCAA Final Four. He won the 2013 Tewaaraton Award, which is presented to the most outstanding player in college lacrosse. Both attackmen were selected to play in the 2013 MLL All-Star Game on July 13 in Charlotte, N.C.

New York's Greg Gurenlian facing off against
Ohio's Eric O'Brien
When Nobody Has the Ball: New York boasts the strongest faceoff man in the league. Greg Gurenlian has won 144-of-233 attempts for a percentage of 61.8. Denver’s Anthony Kelly, who ranks second in the league in faceoff percentage, has gone 146-of-251 (.582 pct) from the X. Just over a week from Thursday, they will face off against each other in the All-Star Game. 

Schwartzman in last weekend's win against Charlotte
Battle in Net: Thursday’s matchup will pit two top-three goalies against each other. Schwartzman’s goals-against average of 9.71 ranks second in the league, closely behind Chesapeake’s Kip Turner, whose goals-against average is 9.63. New York’s Drew Adams ranks third in that category with a goals-against average of 12.04.

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