Den­ver Out­laws: state’s sum­mer pro sports dy­nasty

Lacrosse team aims for third ti­tle in four years

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man

As the Rock­ies’ re­cent strug­gles leave fans to won­der what to make of their Coors Field in­con­sis­ten­cies and the Rapids keep search­ing for last year’s form in Com­merce City, cer- tainty reigns at Sports Author­ity Field at Mile High over the de­fend­ing Ma­jor League Lacrosse cham­pion Den­ver Out­laws.

The first-place Out­laws (8-2) know how to win the close games against elite teams, as ev­i­denced by Satur­day’s 13-11 vic­tory over the Colum­bus Ma­chine — the team they beat in last sea­son’s dra­matic ti­tle game.

And the Out­laws, who are look­ing ca­pa­ble of ce­ment­ing their field lacrosse dy­nasty with a third ti­tle in four sea­sons, have proved they also pos­sess the depth to win in a va­ri­ety of ways.

“We had six rook­ies in the lineup Satur­day and three vet­er­ans out due to in­juries, so to be able to come out and put up a win against the other topranked team showed our bal­ance,” said at­tack­man Eric Law, who net­ted his fourth hat trick of the sea­son in the win. “It wasn’t a pretty game or a high­light-tape game, and it was sloppy, but the best part is we were gritty and we found a way to win even though a lot of things weren’t work­ing for us.”

Law and fel­low at­tack­men

Matt Ka­vanagh and Mike Bock­let pace the Out­laws, while five oth­ers have racked up dou­ble-digit point to­tals. And with four reg­u­lar-sea­son games re­main­ing, the team is pad­ding its depth with the emer­gence of sev­eral rook­ies picked up in May’s col­le­giate draft.

Mid­fielder Ro­mar Den­nis head­lines the group­ing of firstyear pros with three goals and five points through three games played, in­clud­ing the win­ning two-pointer in the fourth quar­ter against the Ma­chine. The Loy­ola (Md.) prod­uct, along with mid­field­ers Zach Currier (Prince­ton) and Larken Kemp (Brown), have made the im­me­di­ate tran­si­tion from col­lege stars to ef­fec­tive pros look easy largely thanks to the cul­ture of win­ning within the fran­chise.

There is no room for self­ish­ness in the Out­laws’ locker room, and the vet­er­ans are will­ing to adapt their roles to bring more help aboard.

“You can tell by how the coaches and vet­er­ans carry them­selves that they’re not used to los­ing, and they don’t like it at all,” Den­nis said. “But be­hind that cul­ture of com­pet­i­tive­ness is a lot of hum­ble guys on this ros­ter, so you don’t have egos clash­ing and it’s easy to fit in and just em­brace your role be­cause every­one else is do­ing it too.”

No Out­laws player ranks in the top five in the MLL in to­tal points, yet sixth-year gen­eral man­ager Tony Sea­man again has con­structed a ros­ter full of play­ers who can break out at any time — cre­at­ing a night­mare sce­nario for op­po­nents.

“They’ve built an en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion around a team, and not just one player,” Law said. “You see around the league how other teams have tried to build around one star just like in other sports, but with the Out­laws, we’ve al­ways gone the team route. We put the whole above the sum of a few flashy parts.”

And un­like last sea­son’s run to the Ste­in­feld Tro­phy — when they started 2-6 be­fore catch­ing fire head­ing into the play­offs — the Out­laws re­al­ize a tar­get is squarely on their back as they seek to clinch a play­off berth and home-field ad­van­tage Thurs­day at Rochester.

“Last year we were kind of out of it and had a pretty amaz­ing come­back with the sea­son over­all and in the cham­pi­onship game to end up win­ning it,” said at­tack­man Wes Berg. “But this year I think we’re the front-run­ners, so we need to stay fo­cused on lock­ing up that home play­off spot and then win two games from there.”

He­len H. Richard­son, Den­ver Post file

Out­laws mid­fielder Brian von Bar­gen, right, tries to keep the ball away from Char­lotte Hounds mid­fielder Pa­trick Resch in a game this sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.