Overcoming a halftime deficit and all-star performances from San Francisco goalie Matt Vallone and rookie attackman Matt Lalli, the Outlaws used a balance scoring attack to down the Dragons Saturday night in Denver, 19-16.
The home team got off to a very quick start, rattling off four unanswered goals, two from the league’s second-leading scorer, Brian Langtry, as well as a two-point tally off the stick of midfielder Matt Hanna (2 [1-2 pointer], 1). This led the Outlaws to a commanding 5-0 advantage before attackman Jake Byrne (3 [1-2 pointer], 1) finally broke the ice 10 minutes into the game and brought the Dragons within four to closeout the first quarter. From there, it was all San Fran as they went on a run of their own, six unanswered goals in just under nine minutes, to take a 7-5 lead, and keep Denver off the board for exactly 15 minutes. The Rookie combo of Lalli (Colgate) (5, 0) and midfielder Ryan Cranston (Lynchburg) (2, 2) each produced two goals during the stretch, and Byrne netted his second as well.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort or opportunities that Denver failed to score during the Dragon resurgence, but the stellar play of Vallone (16 Saves, 18 GA), that was the difference. On his way to dramatically outplaying his counterpart, Jesse Schwartzman (11 Saves, 15 GA), Vallone made several mind-boggling saves in the second stanza, most notably robbing attackman Matt Brown (4, 0) multiple times.
On one particular play, Brown, one of the league’s best finishers – his .625 shooting percentage is seven thousandths of a point less than league-leader and fellow Canadian, Rochester’s Jeff Zywicki (.632), with Brown scoring three more goals – caught a pass right on the doorstep before Vallone took over from there. Running toward the cage, Brown threw a fake high while tiptoeing the crease, then pumped low, which dropped Vallone to his knees, and then attempted his shot up high. Vallone, with an absolute last gasp at making the save, thrust his stick upward and shut the door on Brown.
If it wasn’t the league’s save of the year thus far, it is certainly in the Top-3. Vallone went on to do this, or something very similar, at least four more times in the game – three of which were again on Brown – and really kept the Dragons in the hunt for the upset road victory.
The teams would trade a few goals each from there, Brown with two of his four for Denver, another from Lalli, one each for Jeff Sonke (2, 1) and Lewis Ratcliff (3, 0), and a rare score by Dragon face-off specialist Greg Gurenlian.
Gurenlian (19-36) took the draw against Geoff Snider (17-37), won it forward for a fast break, and literally walked in for a jump shot that zipped past Schwartzman, stick side low. San Fran up 10-8 at the break.
Langtry (4, 2), MVP of the game for already the second time this season, immediately came out firing to nail his third of the night on a time-and-room ripper right out of the gates. Lalli would answer only 10 seconds later, but Denver would prove to have too many weapons.
Brown kicked off the first of two 4-0 runs for the Outlaws, runs in which seven different players would score, including Ryan Powell (1, 2) for his first and only goal against his former team. The 9-3 sprint to the final period, and 11-6 advantage through four would seal the game for Denver, as the over 9,300 in the stands bore yet another victory at home for the Outlaws. The win improves Denver to (4-1) on the season. They will put their undefeated (3-0) conference record on the line this upcoming weekend when they host Chicago Saturday, June 21 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Meanwhile, San Francisco has had a forgettable start to the season at (1-3), with their lone win coming in a one-goal contest against the lowly Machine at home last weekend. However, with the addition of some young, talented players through the draft, the Dragons are excited for what lies ahead, starting with the upstart Pride in New Jersey this weekend.
Photos: Tim Head
|Brian Langtry||(4, 2)|
|Matt Brown||(4, 0)|
|Brendan Mundorf||(3, 1)|
|Matt Hanna||(3, 0)|
|Ryan Powell||(1, 2)|
|Jeff Sonke||(2, 1)|
|Alex Smith||(1, 0)|
|Drew Westervelt||(1, 0)|
|Jesse Schwartzman||14 (0.483)|