It seems that the rich just keep on getting richer.
The Denver Outlaws, already one of the deepest rosters in the league before the collegiate draft, were led to their second victory of the season Saturday evening by rookie attackman Drew Westervelt, who made a huge splash early and often against the Los Angeles Riptide in his first career professional game, en route to an 18-15 victory.
Teaming up with line mate and former teammate at UMBC, Brendan Mundorf (5, 3), Westervelt electrified the crowd of 8,473 at Invesco Field at Mile High with his seven-point unveiling on 4 goals and 3 assists, which garnered him MVP of the game honors.
Outlaws goalie Trevor Tierney chipped in with a stellar outing, standing especially tall between the pipes, making 27 saves on 42 shots on goal – a very solid 64 percent save percentage – in helping vault Denver to the top spot in the Western conference standings.
Denver looked to rebound at home after becoming the only team to ever lose a game to the Chicago Machine, last weekend at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Despite an overabundance of turnovers and penalties, and strong performances from Los Angeles attackmen Spencer Ford (2,6) and Terry Riordan (5,0), as well as midfielder Graham Gill (4,1) and goalie Mickey Jarboe, who made 16 saves, the Outlaws outlasted the Riptide in their first of three meetings this year.
The Riptide landed on the scoreboard first on an inside feed to Riordan in transition for his third goal of the season. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, this would be their only tally of the first quarter because of the play of Tierney and the stifling Denver defense.
From that point, Denver went on a 4-0 run, three of which Westervelt had a hand in, to end the first with a three-goal lead, as part of a 5-0 run into the second quarter. It proved to be all the Outlaws would need as the two teams literally matched goal-for-goal the rest of the way, each scoring three in the second, four in the third, before exploding for seven each in the fourth.
The always-consistent Brian Langtry got things started for Denver in the second quarter, with a beautiful wind-up pass to the Canadian crease-monger, Matt Brown (3,0). Brown, who led the league in shooting percentage last season, threw a hard fake and finished in the top-left corner to give Denver a 5-1 buffer, under a minute into the quarter.
Willing his team back into the game almost single-handedly, Ford put Los Angeles on a three-goal run of their own, to at least keep pace with the Outlaws. Ford fed midfielder Lorne Smith for a time-and-room rip just inside the two-point line, and then Riordan inside just over a minute later, both on delayed Denver penalties.
Only fifteen seconds later, Ford was at it again and hit Gill inside on the man-up for a pretty quick-stick to beat Tierney off-ball side, low to cut Denver’s lead to one, 5-4.
The Outlaws quickly responded with a goal from face-off specialist Geoff Snider on the ensuing draw to increase the lead back to two.
Snider won a clean ball in front of himself, bolted in with no slide, shot low, and Jarboe made a big save in tight. However, the ball rebounded, Snider made a one-handed grab out of midair and then stuffed it home over the kneeling goalie’s shoulder.
A scary moment for the Outlaws toward the end of the half though as midfielder Josh Sims scooped up a Riptide turnover and jetted up field toward the midline. Two Riptide players in pursuit of the speedy Sims cross-checked him in the back, drawing a penalty, but also leaving Denver’s leading man laying in obvious agony in the backfield.
He was attended to by the Outlaws training staff and eventually walked off under his own power several minutes later. Sims later rejoined his team on the sidelines after halftime, but wearing bags of ice on his left shoulder and neck area instead of pads and a helmet.
Riordan was penalized for a thirty-second pushing foul on the play, and Langtry made the Riptide pay on a ridiculous underhand top-shelf shot as he curled from behind the net on a nice feed from middie Mike Law. Langtry has to be one of the purest outside shooters in the entire league and he certainly shows it on a regular basis.
It was a bit of a slow start for both teams to start the second half due to plenty of turnovers on dropped passes and other sloppy play. This created a nearly 13-minute scoring drought that was eventually broken up on a left-handed jump shot by Outlaws midfielder Jeff Sonke (1,2) at the six-minute mark of the third quarter.
From there, it was an offensive treat for those in attendance as the two teams exchanged goals, striking twine for a combined 22 total goals in the second half, compared to a mere 11 combined in the first half.
Mundorf scored four of his five during this time, highlighted by back-to-back goals early in the fourth, and complimented well by all three of his assists.
To the Riptide’s credit, they never quite went away as Denver continually left the door open by committing numerous penalties, to which Los Angeles converted on several times. But the Outlaws were just too strong overall on the night, and Tierney made several back-to-back saves late in the game to keep them ahead at the last horn.
Be sure to check out the game on ESPN2 in a delayed telecast on Tuesday, June 12, at 4 p.m. EST, as part of the league’s new deal with the comprehensive sports network.
The win improves Denver’s record to 2-1 on the season, while the Riptide fall to second in the West, a half game back at 2-2.
The Riptide head back to California to face in-state Western rival, the San Francisco Dragons, Saturday, June 16, while the Outlaws will continue their two-game homestand and welcome the 1-2 Rochester Rattlers to the Mile High City for the first time, also on June 16.
photos: tim head
Denver Outlaws vs. La Riptide