By Stuart Zaas | 5/16/12 12:20 PM
DENVER – Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta joined the weekly MLL Conference call on Wednesday, covering Denver’s 19-11 win over Long Island in Week 3 and the team’s upcoming game against Boston on Saturday.
Stagnitta, who has led the Outlaws to three consecutive wins to start the 2012 season knows that the Outlaws will have to be more disciplined against Boston in Week 4 than they were last week versus Long Island.
“I think we regrouped and I think we got off to a slow start,” Stagnitta said about the team’s slow start against the Lizards. “We made some poor decisions early on. We were a man up 30 seconds into the game and retaliated to go 5-on-5. I think we were a little unsettled early, maybe a little too excited.”
The Outlaws used a 9-1 run to close the first half ahead 10-5 after falling behind 4-1 in the first 10 minutes of the first quarter against the Lizards.
When the undefeated and defending MLL Champion Boston Cannons visit Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, Stagnitta knows his squad has to step up its level of play.
“I think the key with us is going to be to keep them from going on their runs as we have to continue to improve on what we have been doing, which is to take advantage of every unsettled opportunity that we possibly can,” he said. “Then when we’re in six-on-six, to be a little bit more precise and take the best shot, not the first shot and do the best we can to minimize their number of possessions.”
The Cannons have won eight consecutive games dating back to the 2011 season. All three of their victories have been by at least eight goals to start the 2012 campaign.
“Certainly Boston is talented from to bottom,” Stagnitta said. “Watching them on film, there aren’t a lot of weaknesses. You have to concentrate on (midfielder Paul) Rabil but they have a couple of other guys too in (midfielder Patrick) Heim and on attack with (Kevin) Buchanan and (Ryan) Boyle and (Matt) Poskay – they are balanced across the board.”
The Outlaws have used balance and depth of their own to post a league-leading 55 points in their three wins. During the first two weeks, it was the team’s midfielders that packed the punch when it came to getting the ball in the net. Last week, with the return of attackmen Jordan McBride and Brendan Mundorf from the NLL, Stagnitta began to see the balance he’d like the team to strive toward.
“If you look at the numbers at the end of the day, there was some pretty good balance last weekend against Long Island both from the attack and the midfield,” he said. “We’ve had some pretty even contributions across the board there and I think that’s really where the offensive explosion has come from, that balance.”
Stagnitta also touched on a few other topics during his 15-minute call:
On faceoff specialist Stephen Robarge
“It was huge – that was unbelievable. We knew coming into the year that (faceoffs) was an area we needed to shore up. We knew that was an area where we had to improve. … We got (three) faceoffs into it and we needed a spark after we lost the first (three). We put him in there and he tied up Gurenlian right away and the rest of the day he was terrific. He’s a technician as a faceoff guy and I’ve been very impressed with that part of it. He certainly was unflappable. And, he can pick up the ball and do some things with it, which is important in this league if you can do more than just faceoff because everybody around you is just going to chase after you if you can’t handle the ball. He was composed and poised. I certainly did not have that kind of expectation. We watched him dominate at the college level and heard good things about him, but there’s a big difference between that and stepping up to this level.”
On other rookies that could contribute
“There are a couple of them out there that we’d love to get, but they are still playing. They will make a difference for us immediately. Robarge was a big one, and we’re bringing in (Tom) Celentani, the defenseman from UMass this week to practice with us. Honestly, we had (attackman Kevin) Vaughan in last weekend. He can’t make it (this weekend), but he is somebody that is going to make an impact right away. We were very impressed with him from a practice standpoint. I think we’re going to continue to get deeper and better here over the next few weeks. You can see these guys on TV and they are pretty talented players and they’re certainly going to be able to help our roster right away.”
On the Outlaws’ offensive success thus far
“You score a lot of points because it’s tough to stop guys of this caliber. We put up some numbers, I guess. I’d love to see us be more consistent in how we put them up. We put them up in stretch runs and then we kind of relax a little bit. We have a lot of different guys who have stepped up and contributed at different times and I think that has been a key.”