Outlaws Rally, Stun Nats, Clinch Playoff Berth
from press release
ENVER, CO— The Denver Outlaws hit the road for the final time in the regular season, crossing the border into Canada and clinching a playoff berth in a 15-14 overtime, come-back victory versus the Toronto Nationals.
Goalie Jesse Schwartzman took home the Bud Light MVP for the Outlaws, putting up 14 saves in 27 shots on goal in 60:48 minutes of action. Midfielder Alex Hopmann led the Denver scoring with three goals and an assist. Toronto Attacker John Grant Jr. gave the Outlaws all they could handle with five goals in five shots on goal.
“Down 9-3, it was gut-check time,” Head Coach Brian Reese said. “We could have easily folded up our tents and played the game out but we fought hard, played with much more energy and were able to get the win.”
Denver took an early two-goal lead off goals from Attackers Dan Hardy and Matt Brown, before the Nationals responded with three goals, from Attackers Kevin Huntley, Grant Jr. and Midfielder Brett Bucktooth. Attacker Drew Westervelt knotted the game up to end the first quarter, sending the game into the second quarter with the score tied 3-3.
The Nationals opened up the second quarter with a five-goal scoring streak, courtesy of Defender Steven Waldeck, Midfielder Dan Dawson and three goals from Grant Jr, before Midfielder Sean DeLaney ended the bleeding for the Outlaws with his sole goal of the match. Brown scored his second goal with about a minute left in the second, sending the game into halftime with a 9-5 Nationals advantage.
Attacker Brendan Mundorf started the second-half scoring with his first goal of the match, which Huntley matched with his second goal of the game. Westervelt and Dawson exchanged goals within a minute of each other, until Midfielder Garrett Billings brought the score to 11-7 halfway into the third quarter.
“We have had some lapses during games for sure but what I really like about our team is that we have different guys stepping up and making plays when we need them,” Reese said.
Midfielder Nate Watkins scored his lone goal of the game and Hopmann brought Denver within two, before Grant Jr. netted his fourth goal of the contest. Mundorf and Hopmann scored again to bring the game within two, bringing the score to 13-11 in favor of the Nationals.
Midfielder Jordan Hall netted the Nationals only goal of the fourth quarter, while Hardy, Defender Matt Bocklet and Hopmann completed the come-back, scoring a goal each to tie the game up at 14-14 after four quarters.
“If we can have all six offensive players step up, it makes us hard to cover as long as we are playing unselfishly,” Reese said.
Denver midfielder Steve Giannone ended the overtime period quickly, scoring 48 seconds into overtime to give the Outlaws a 15-14 victory.
“Steve had a huge goal and Hopmann stuck his shots and had the game winning assist when Dan Hardy was drawing a lot of attention,” Reese said.
The Outlaws will return home for a three game home-stand, before heading to Annapolis, Md., to vie for the Major League Lacrosse championship.
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