6/25/10 11:20 AM
By Heather Crowley
At the halfway point of the 2010 season Denver sits in a familiar place in the standings. At 4-2, the Outlaws share the top spot in the league with the Bayhawks and Cannons. With six games remaining Denver’s midseason form thus far is postseason worthy but with room for minor improvement.
The team is a perennial pain to opposing teams in the postseason, as they have blazed into the playoffs every year since the creation of the franchise five years ago. Additionally, the Outlaws have never finished the season with less than seven regular season wins while making the championship game three times. And the Outlaws show no signs of breaking that streak anytime soon.
“I think we are still getting better and still figuring out who we are as a team,” Reese said. “That makes me believe that our best lacrosse is still ahead of us. I have seen us play some great defensive games and great offensive games. If we can put them together at the same time, we are going to be pretty good. I also like the chemistry on the team.”
Barring a major second half collapse, the Outlaws will be headed back to Navy Marine Corps Stadium for another shot at the ultimate prize. The 2010 MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior is set for August 21-22 in Annapolis.
Throughout the season Denver has found ways to make its offense superior to most others in the league. In its first two games the Outlaws averaged 13 points but in their last two games the Outlaws averaged 16 points against the other two league leaders. By getting sharpshooter Matt Brown involved and finding role players like Brian Langtry, every Outlaw is given opportunities to be successful.
Denver is lucky to receive solid play every season from a goalie that made a seamless transition into the league from college. Goalie Jesse Schwartzman continues to be in top form for Denver and again received All-Star honors for the 2010 season. Schwartzman is 4-1 on the season and posting a 12.02 GAA. Last season Schwartzman saw his statistics improve in the playoffs and pressure situations. Schwartzman’s save percentage jumped to .615 from his regular season average of .548 in Denver’s two playoff games. The goalie also lowered his GAA to 10.13 from and already impressive 11.28, which helped earn him 2009 Goalie of the Year.
Although many fans are familiar with faces like Drew Westervelt, Max Seibald and Brendan Mundorf the Outlaws are far from just scorers.
One of the unsung heroes of the 2010 season has been defender Matt Bocklet. During six games this season Bocklet scooped up a team best 32 groundballs, only ten less than his total from last season. In the past three games Bocklet has vacuumed up 21 groundballs. The next closest Outlaw is Eric Martin with 21 groundballs on the season. Bocklet tied his point total from last season, four, at midseason this year. If Bocklet continues his current pace he is on track for the best season of his career.
As if the team wasn’t already imposing enough one aspect of the second half of the season that bodes well for the Outlaws is their upcoming schedule. Due to their month long road trip in June Denver will now get four out of their final six games at home, including their final three games at INVESCO to close out the season. The Outlaws are 21-5 all-time in the regular season in Denver. This season Denver is undefeated at home with a 2-0 record and fan support is incomparable as they lead the league in average fan attendance with 9,223 per game. Last season the Outlaws fans set the MLL single game attendance record as 21,952 fans came to cheer on the Outlaws on the fourth of July.
So what’s left for the Outlaws to change before making that final push to the playoffs? Here are three things Denver can do to improve its chances at hoisting the trophy:
2010 Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend presented by Warrior
August 21-22, Annapolis, MD
For information and tickets go to www.majorleaguelacrosse.com