The Denver Outlaws (3-1) are coming off their bye week with heads held high, looking towards a promising future if they can combat the injury bug.
The Outlawks are tied with the Chesapeake Bayhawks for second place in MLL standings. Their only loss came against the No. 1 ranked Boston Cannons in a 17-10 defeat on May 19.
"In order to compete in this league at the top, you've got to be able to compete with Boston, and you've got to be able to handle what they throw at you," Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said.
The Outlaws will get a crack at taking sole possession of second place in league standings as they take on the offensively stacked Chesapeake Bayhawks this Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"They're big and they have shooters," Stagnitta said of the Bayhawks. "They're not afraid to let it go so we're going to have to get bodies on offensive players away from the cage."
Thanks to injuries to key defensive players Eric Martin and Steve Holmes, the Outlaws will rely heavily on goalie Jesse Schwartzman.
"You need him to steal a few more than he usually does," Stagnitta said. "If he's on and he's having a great night, it makes the other team think a little bit more when they shoot. He certainly has the ability to make up for some of the youth and inexperience down at the defensive end of the field if we can't put our first line out there."
The Outlaws used their ever important bye week to rest up and to work on getting new players into the lineup to battle some of the early season injuries.
"A couple of the guys that we had hoped would be back unfortunately aren't quite there yet," Stagnitta said. "We'll have some new faces in the lineup, and we'll have to fill some big shoes this weekend."
A lot of those new faces can be seen at midfield with the additions of Colin Briggs, Drew Snider, and Kevin Vaughn.
"With some of the youth and athleticism that we're adding through the college draft to the middle of the field, hopefully that will make a difference and it will pay dividends," Stagnitta said. "We've got to be better in the middle of the field. We have not defended well from the position."
For the Outlaws to come out on top in Saturday's contest, it will be about the points not on the board rather than the points on the board. Defense is the key to beating the Bayhawks, and the new guys will have to step up quickly.