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Denver Outlaws MLL Championship Quotes

March 18, 2016

On the 2014 MLL Championship being a “rematch” of the 2008 MLL Championship between Denver and Rochester
“No (laughs), it’s definitely not a rematch. There are very few people on either side that were involved in that game. [attackman] John [Grant Jr.] was with Rochester then, I think maybe [goalie] Jesse [Schwartzman] and [defenseman] Lee Zink are the only ones left that were wearing the Denver uniform that day. This is an entirely different scenario. Two entirely different teams. It’s more of a rematch with the teams that played each other this season and split and now we get a chance to play a third time.”

On if the way he’s preparing the team for this weekend differs from the rest of the season
“No. It’s business as usual. The last thing you want to do is upset your routine. We always watch a lot of film. We have the ability to get clips to all of our guys via email, as I’m sure Rochester does too. We’ve had a chance to watch a number of their games. We watched our most recent games, that were all broken down component-by-component. I think in that regard they should be as well-prepared as ever.”

On the Championship being played at a neutral site
“Well, you know, I think the hope for both teams is that there’s a crowd that is engaged and excited and creates some energy in the stands. I think that’s something that we’re all hoping for. It was nice to have a home game but I think for the Championship game having a neutral site is probably the fair thing to do. We’re hoping we can win some of those fans over that maybe don’t know us so well and I’m sure Rochester feels the same way.”

On what he key matchup for Saturday is
“I think the team that can get the most points. It’s a game of runs, as we all know. Each team is going to have their moments. I think that the team that’s maybe struggling at one point during the game, if they can collect themselves and right the ship, so to speak, that’s going to be the key thing. I think take it back to last year, Charlotte came at us pretty hard in the semis. We expected that they would, they were playing well at the time. I didn’t think we handled it real well as a team. We panicked a little bit and dug ourselves an awfully big whole. We got back in it late, but it took a lot of energy to get back. We certainly want to avoid that kind of pattern.”

On veterans John Grant Jr. and Rochester’s Kevin Leveille and what Junior brings to the team
“Obviously [Junior and Rochester’s Kevin Leveille] are two of very finest left-handed attackman to have ever played in Major League Lacrosse. They play every different styles. John is able to do a lot in terms of scoring goals, but he also distributes the ball very well. John is a very creative player, he’s not a very traditional attackman. He has the Canadian box style that he uses—takes a little getting used to for the other guys because he’ll throw it behind his back, between the legs, and they have to be ready. But the biggest thing John had brought to us is that experience—championship experience—his leadership in the dressing room. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s got a real playful personality. But when it’s crunch time he knows when it’s time to get serious. I know that’s what we’ll get from him this week. He will be calm and reassuring to all the other guys that maybe haven’t been in this position as many times as he has.”

On Junior’s 7-point performance last week against New York
“First of all, it wasn’t easy for him. [New York Lizards defenseman] Steve Holmes did a great job on him and he played him hard. John’s teeth were rattling a few times on some of those checks that Holmes was laying on him. But he kept his poise. He wanted the ball at the end. He made that [game-winning] play to [midfielder Jeremy] Sieverts, all eyes were on him and that just makes it easier for the other guys. I guess we’ve just come to expect stuff like that form him. He’s done it so frequently throughout the years. We’re going to need him to make plays like that again this weekend. He’s got another tough assignment. We’ve just got to make sure that everyone else stays involved and we don’t get caught watching this one-on-one matchup. It all begins there, but we’ve got to get other guys involved to be able to create offense.”

On the team coming together this season
“We’ve got a lot of the same pieces that we’ve had for the last two or three years. Obviously we added Grant to the mix in place of [former Outlaw Brendan] Mundorf. Sieverts, [midfielder Drew] Snider, [midfielder Justin] Pennington, [attackman Eric] Law, [attackman Chris] Bocklet—they’ve been around a couple of years.  There wasn’t an entirely new cast. I think what a lot of people forget is we finished pretty high in the standings the last few years and some of these teams—I’m thinking Ohio and Rochester—they’ve been on the other side of it, the other end of the ladder. They’ve had really, really good drafts. My point is that everyone has gotten better. We think we’re better [than last year] right now, but obviously Rochester and Ohio in particular have had wonderful seasons with a lot of great, young guys they recently drafted. The league is getting seriously competitive. We’re just happy that we got ourselves where we are, because it wasn’t easy.”



On how he is approaching his fifth MLL Championship appearance
“I don’t think about the past. I don’t think about the future. I really am just focused on this weekend’s game. I’ve got a couple of games I’m kind of dealing with up here [in Canada], but I’m focused solely on the Rattlers and what my matchup is going to be. Like [Rattlers Head Coach Tim Soudan] ‘Soudo’ said, it’s no surprise who I am going to be playing. So I’m focusing on what I need to do to help my team win. I know each and every guy on the Outlaws is going the same thing right now.  It’s a unique opportunity this year with the new setup where you have a week to prepare, as opposed to sometimes less than 24 hours. I think you’re going to have a better Championship game than you have in the past just due to the fact that you’re going to see two fresh teams that are fully prepared and ready to battle.”

On his season in Denver playing for the Outlaws
“It’s been awesome. [General Manager Tony] Seaman and [Head Coach] B.J. [O’Hara] really wanted to get me—for obvious reasons, my experience. I’ve played for B.J. before, I won my first MLL Championship with the Rattlers under B.J.’s tutelage. So we’ve got experience and he knows the strength of my game and the weakness of my game. I felt more like me this summer just being able to play the kind of game that I’m accustomed to playing in. B.J. allowing me to do that has been kind of refreshing for me. I never wanted to come in and take over or anything like that. We have similar philosophies and the team welcomed me with open arms. It’s been a great season and I’m hoping we can finish it off or it won’t really matter.”

On working with some of the younger Denver Outlaws
“It’s been a fairly seamless transition. I’m pretty predictable in what I do—I’m mostly a draw-and-dump guy from behind. The benefit I have is I throw the ball to these shooters and they put the ball in the net at a pretty high clip. If you look at the shooting percentages, they’re all remarkably high—some of the highest. I think [attackman Eric] Law is at 50 percent. It makes my job pretty easy to feed to guys that put the ball in the net that frequently. So it’s been a blessing for me to be able to hit snipers like that. I’ve been fortunate enough at times to get myself—teams aren’t able to fly as easily as they had before because you can’t leave your assignment or you’re going to get the ball scooped into the back of the net. We’ve got a pretty potent offense here in the Mile High City, I’m just very fortunate to be part of it.”

On facing the Rochester Rattlers for the third time this season
“Obviously we’re going to see their best. They’ve got a great coaching staff over there and they’ve got an excellent team—there are no weaknesses. Like I said, travel isn’t—Coach Soudan hit the nail on the head—this league is tough. You don’t get to get in there three days before and settle in. Sometimes guys are coming from the airport and throwing their gear on and playing. There is a lot of stuff that goes on. I know it’s tough getting out there to the west coast, so that’s our advantage out there. Equally, we had some challenges ourselves up in Rochester. I know a lot of guys struggled in travel. I know myself, I played three games in four games. It’s going to be hopefully just two teams going out there and trying to execute their game plan. I think the team that executes the most effectively is probably going to lift the title. That’s what we’re both going out to do—is try to execute.”

On it seeming like he and the team are playing their best ball together at this point of the season
“That’s kind of what you hope for—right? I know Denver in the past has had some perfect seasons. Sometimes you need to win ugly and sometimes you need to lose ugly to really get an idea of what your team has inside. When you win so easily throughout the year, once you kind of hit a wall or hit some obstacle, it’s hard to figure out how to navigate around or over it. We’ve hit the gamut this year as far as getting blown out, blowing teams out and winning nail biters. We’ve experienced every aspect that we’ve needed to. Now it truly is just doing your absolute best to put your time in, do your homework, and show up in Atlanta and put it on them. I know they’re going to do the same thing. It’s purely it’s a one-game take all. Whoever can kind of just put it together and seriously just execute the game plan. We all know what we need to do. They’re going the same thing over there. It’s just time to put it all on the line. You play for one game and you’ve got 60 minutes to do it. Hopefully that’s us, but I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing.”

On if he approaches the Championship any differently from other games
“I don’t necessarily think that. I try to play every game like it’s a Championship. That’s kind of how I have to be at my age. If I take one game off it could be ugly and it could be my last. I play every one that way and I think that’s the mentality I’ve always had. To me, the championship game is the same as the third game of the season. I go out and I try to play like it’s my very last game. That’s just the way I’ve told and kind of tried to help the younger guys along. If you play every game like it’s the championship game, then the championship game is just another game. That’s what I’m trying to say—go out, execute your game plan, and have fun. You’re getting to do something you love doing and there’s no need to put any added pressure on it. I know there is going to be some [added pressure] and some of the younger guys are going to feel the jitters, but truly it’s the same thing you’ve done in preseason and the same thing you played in May. You’ve just got to go out and play.”

On having a week to prepare between the semifinal games and Championship now
“I think in the past and even last year it helped me because I’m so used to playing so many games in the summer. The team that we [used to] play in the Championship would be tired from the day before. But I’m coming up against a pretty big dude who has got a week off. I played Tuesday and I play again Thursday. I think for me, playing more seems to help me. Weeks off and longs period off, my body seems to fold up on me. So I need to keep playing for me to stay fresh. That seems to be some uncanny way for me to continue to do this thing. Like I said, I’m focused on my game Thursday and as soon as that thing is over at 9:30-10, then it’s purely time to get focused on the field game. I’ve been able to do this for a long time—to compartmentalize the two—hopefully everything works out.”