Outlaws Re-set Record, Unleash Fireworks on Machine

Outlaws Re-set Record, Unleash Fireworks on Machine

Outlaws Re-set Record, Unleash Fireworks on Machine

Outlaws Re-set Record, Unleash Fireworks on Machine

In front of an unprecedented 19,743 strong – a franchise, league and professional lacrosse record – the Denver Outlaws celebrated the Fourth of July in style by dropping division-rival Chicago for the second time in as many weeks, 22-14.

Coming off of a commanding 19-9 performance against the Machine only five days earlier at Toyota Park, the host Outlaws were once again led by attackman Brendan Mundorf, who scored a game high six points (5, 1), and was named the evening’s MVP.

In just his second year, Mundorf, who was selected to his first all-star game this season, now ranks first on Denver’s star-studded roster with 33 points (24, 9) and is tied for third in the league in scoring through seven games.

As for the Machine, it seems that some things never change. After reloading with numerous collegiate prospects, including midfielder Pat Heim with the No. 1 overall pick, and then finally grabbing their first-ever win in Week Two against the Outlaws, Chicago appeared as if they had started the season off on the right foot. But five games later, the Machine look as though they are about back to their 0-12 record 2006 season ways, as the most recent loss guarantees that the Midwest’s only franchise will again not possess a winning-record by season’s end.

Goalie Harry Alford was granted his first professional start for Chicago after regular netminder Mike Gabel – the sole Machine goalie to ever register a win – struggled somewhat in his last two appearances.

Nevertheless, the result was still the same, as Alford was upstaged by the potent offense of the Outlaws, as well as fellow rookie Jesse Schwartzman – who made his second straight start in net due to all-star Trevor Tierney still recovering from a concussion – and tallied 12 saves to 12 goals against.

As a side note, despite some questioning Schwartzman’s physical shape, as a whole, he played relatively well, making pretty much all of the saves he should, to go along with throwing the crispest, booming outlet feeds one has ever soon. He made some rather phenomenal passes in this year’s collegiate final, but you really have to see him play in person to understand and appreciate the effortless perfection at which he clears the ball.

Back to the game, the Outlaws struck first with two goals in the first three minutes, from midfield line mates Brian Langtry (3, 0) and Mike Law (3, 1). Both goals were top-side dodges that led to bounce shots over Alford’s shoulders.

The Machine responded shortly thereafter when defenseman/assistant general manager Michael Culver received a pass on the doorstep in traffic from rookie middie Jordan Hall, and stuffed it home through Schwartzman’s five-hole. It was the former-Virginia Cavalier’s first-career professional goal and point.

Langtry would answer with a five-hole blast of his own to give him his second of the night, a mere four minutes into the game, and put the Outlaws back up by two, 3-1.

But Denver could not stay out of the penalty box and Schwartzman’s play was a bit spotty early on, allowing Chicago to keep pace, going on a 4-0 run to take a 6-4 advantage into the second quarter.

The very crafty Athan Iannucci (4, 0), who started for just the fourth time in seven games due to what looked like a left knee injury, converted on back-to-back, time-and-room shots, followed up by a connection between Kevin Leveille (3, 0) and Sean Morris (1, 1), as well as an early two-pointer by middie Nicholas Schmidt (2, 1).

Denver kick started its first of two five-goal runs in the game to the end the opening stanza, highlighted by consecutive goals by Mundorf, including one during a fast break off of the draw.

Outlaws face-off man Geoff Snider, who turned out a dominant 25-for-37 effort, collected one his astonishing 17 groundballs after pushing the ball in front of himself, dished off to the point man Mundorf after hitting the restraining arc, and the attackman threw a top-shelf rocket past Alford.

Chicago attempted to adjust to Snider’s supremacy midway through the game by throwing Jake Deane at him after rookie Dan Kallaugher was unable to get the job done, but it was of no use as Snider continued to simply put on a clinic, posting his highest winning percentage of the season, 68 percent.

Only Leveille and Schmidt would score for the Machine in the second, as Denver scored nine in the quarter to take a lead they would never again relinquish, up 13-8 at the break.

All-star rookie Pat Heim gave Chicago a tiny amount of hope as he netted his lone goal of the game and the first scored of the second half about two minutes into the third quarter.

The two teams would trade goals in the period before Denver’s Matt Hanna (2, 0) helped to ice the game in the fourth, scoring two goals in under two minutes, to leave his mark on the team’s second 5-0 run.

Overall, even after trailing at the end of the first quarter, Denver dictated the entire game because they remained aggressive and never took their feet off of the offensive pedal, while Chicago could never quite battle back because of their propensity for turnovers on failed clears and errant passes.

The game did get a little chippy late. At one point, Culver – a figurehead of the team because of his unique dual player-management role – took especial exception to Langtry’s antics after an unnecessary hit when Alford was out of the cage. Langtry’s actions resulted in a one-minute cross checking penalty early in the fourth.

Culver bolted toward the substitution box as Langtry jogged off the field to let the Outlaw middie and the official calling the penalty know how he felt. A second flag was then thrown and Culver served an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and he sat right alongside Langtry.

A bit later, Langtry and Culver created more fireworks before the post-game festivities, mixing it up once again after a dead ball.

Langtry ripped off Culver’s helmet and got a glove-covered punch in on the defenseman’s unsheathed head, after it appeared that Culver attempted to spear Langtry in the torso. The two could be seen jarring at each other all the way to the penalty box, as separate officials escorted both to there respective benches.

This was the rubber match for the two teams, which means that Langtry and Culver will have to wait to address their on-field feud until next season. The Machine won the first meeting between the two teams, in Chicago, 19-17, while the Outlaws took the remaining two, the 19-9 walloping last weekend and today’s 22-14 victory to take the season series 2-1.

With their fifth loss in a row, Chicago falls to a league-worst 1-6, while the Outlaws move to 4-3, ahead of .500 for the first time since Week Three. They trail the division-leading Los Angeles Riptide (5-2) by one game for the coveted lead in the West.

Denver and Los Angeles will face each other another two times during the regular season to decide who will most likely take the division crown, once in Los Angeles on July 14, and then in Denver on August 4.

Meanwhile, Chicago limps into the All-Star break, hoping to reconvene with a win in Week Eight, when they host the (4-4) Boston Cannons, also on Saturday, July 14.

This was the second-consecutive year that the Outlaws hosted an Independence Day contest. The Denver franchise also set the league attendance mark in their inaugural July Fourth celebration game, held July 2, 2006 versus the Los Angeles Riptide, to which a spot under 16,000 attended.

If setting yet another record with the reported nearly 20,000 in attendance is any clue, plan on the Outlaws playing the coming Fourth of July’s for years to come, although 20,000 will certainly be a tough number to surmount. However, the pre-game aircraft flyover and post-game fireworks will again help to draw in the fans, in addition to the high-level of high altitude lacrosse.

photos: A.J. Benegas

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