Di Miller, Correspondent Denver Outlaws
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Photos Courtesy of Pretty Instant
In an infamous 2020 MLL season where a 10 week season was reduced to nine days, on the morning of the Semi-finals, the Chesapeake Bayhawks would have three players test positive for COVID-19 and they made the tough decision to withdraw from the playoffs unable to make a run for their title as the MLL Champions. This would also force the Connecticut Hammerheads in their inaugural year after having come back from back to back losses and also defeating the reigning champions to take over second in the league, to have to withdraw.
By default the two remaining teams, the No. 1 Seed Denver Outlaws (4-2) would face the No. 4 Seed Boston Cannons (3-3) on Championship Sunday where one would walk away with the Seinfeld Trophy on Sunday July 27, 2020
This would be the first time since 2011 that Boston had made an appearance in a championship game when they defeated the Hamilton Nationals also at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium by the score of 10-9. Today would be their third appearance in franchise history and their second title. Final Score: Cannons 13—Outlaws 9.
The Cannons hit back-to-back goals in the first 50 seconds to go up 2-0. John Uppgren (5g, 1a) got it started from the angle with a sliver of space which hit Outlaws net-minder Christian Knight in the face mask but it found a way into the net 3:02 in getting the scoring going 1-0 Boston. Ben Spencer (1g, 1a) would notch another 48 seconds later on the run with a high to low shot outside bottom corner and it was quickly 2-0 Cannons. At the 5:26 mark, Outlaws rookie Phenom Daniel Bucaro (3g, 1a) would score a natural hat-trick within 90 seconds to put Denver up. The first on the sprint he’d come around the cage firing it low and the ball trickled in past Nick Marrocco; the second on the alley dodge, he’d fire one across his body at the 6:00 mark hitting inside pipe to tie it at twos; and to cap the hat-trick on the fly he’d shoot high to low and bounced it in at 6:46 and they were up 3-2. On the ensuing face-off, Outlaws face-off specialist Max Adler found an open John Grant Jr. (1g, 1a), and he was able to find an opening on the inside pipe and was able to score five seconds later at 6:51. Boston would tally the final three in the frame as Uppgren would notch another with a quick release step down shot with 4:28 remaining; Mark Cockerton (3g, 1a) scored on the inside shovel pass between the wickets with 1:33 left for the equalizer; and Uppgren would put his hat-trick on the board with a minute remaining for the go ahead goal. Boston would lead in SOG 9-5. Denver would hold the lead in face-offs 7-10; and saves 4-1. GB were even at 10 apiece. Score at the end of one: Cannons 5—Outlaws 4.
The second quarter got off to a slow start. Denver would be the first to score after having gone 13 minutes without a goal. Kyle Pless would cause the turnover in front of the Cannons net, head down the field, pass to Pat Aslanian (1g two-pt.) outside the 2-pt arc and he’d step down & fire it in for his first 2-pt career MLL goal putting the Outlaws ahead 6-5. Cockerton would tie it up with 7:14 remaining in the frame on a nifty one-handed scoop off the Denver miscue and fired it in to tie the game once again 6-6. The goal keepers were simply stellar for the next seven minutes. But with 0.3 left on the clock, the Outlaws defense had two defenders on one man leaving Justin Pugal (1g two-pt.) wide open outside the arc line and he took the opportunity and fired it in for the go ahead goal. Boston had a healthy lead in SOG 9-5. Denver led in Saves 6-3; and TO 7-4. Face-offs were tied 2-4; and GB were tied at 10 apiece. Score at the end of two: Cannons 8—Outlaws 6.
As had been the case during the season, Outlaws Head Coach Tony Seaman put Nick Washuta in net for the second half and this turned out to be costly. The Cannons would continue their run into the third scoring three more. Bryce Wasserman (1g, 1a) would come around the corner with the shovel pass and score on Washuta 40 seconds in 9-6 Cannons. Cockerton on the backhand feed from Uppgren would score right in front of the net for the hat-trick at 2:52; and Uppgren would put up his fourth at the 5:23 mark on the doorstep giving them a five goal lead 11-6. Denver would halt the run at the 5:34 mark when Taylor Stuart got the feed off the face-off fired it crossfield to Chris Aslanian (3g) and he fired it far side 11-7. With the stoppage in play, the Outlaws would pull Washuta and put Knight back in between the pipes. This also started the three-goal run for Denver which Outlaws fans hoped would spark the offense and a possible victory. The Outlaws set up the tic-tac-toe play and Jack Jasinski would set up the dodge on the wing allowing Aslanian to get open on the slide and he stepped down and fired it in for the goal at with 8:48 remaining. On the ensuing face-off Adler (1g, 1a) would head straight up the middle and fire an overhand shot five seconds later pulling Denver to within two. The Outlaws had put up three goals in less than 50 seconds. But Boston would not be stopped as Uppgren would notch his fifth coming from around the cage making his way through three defenders and fired it far side low with 6:29 remaining in the third. Another three minutes would tick off and the Cannons would score again this time off Challen Rogers (1g, 1a). This one started with a spectacular save by Marrocco and the pass to Spencer then to Rogers who was wide open in front of the cage and he fired a one-handed shot giving Boston another four goal lead 13-9. With 1:48 remaining, the Outlaws would score what would be their last goal; the last goal of the game; and the last goal of the 2020 Season. Bucaro would draw the defense, he looked across the field and saw a wide open Aslanian who set his feet and fired it into the net. Denver had taken the lead in SOG 9-8. But Boston now held the lead in GB 13-12; Saves 5-3; Face-offs 6-10; and TO 6-3. Score at the end of three: Cannons 13—Outlaws 10.
There would be no scoring in the fourth and total defense by the net-minders. Each team would take seven shots. Boston would have two shots on goal with two saves; and Denver would have one shot on goal with one save. Each net-minder was 100% on saves in the fourth. The Outlaws would have eight turnovers to six by the Cannons. Final Score: Cannons 13—Outlaws 10.
All in all, this is the type of game you want to see in a championship game. Quality lacrosse and a total of one penalty. That is virtually unheard of. The players had to condense a 10 week season into nine days. They played in a stadium with no fans; they were not able to leave the hotel during the week; and they had no locker room time at half-time or before the games. We saw the teams on opposite sides of the field; and in general the players had to play a different type of lacrosse than they have ever had to do in their lifetimes.
Our MVP’s are the entire MLL League, its players and coaches. Thank you for giving us this season of lacrosse because without you we would not have been able to watch our favorite sport.
Our Star of this game:
John Uppgren—5g, 1a
Our Star of the League:
Ryan Lee—Denver Outlaws 18g, 2a
Outlaws—SOG 20; GB 41; Saves 15; Face-offs 14-25; TO 24
Cannons—SOG 28; GB 43; Saves 10; Face-offs 11-25; TO 18
NET MINDER STATS:
Outlaws—Christian Knight: SOG 13; GA 9; Sv% .591
Outlaws—Nick Washuta: SOG 2; GA 3; Sv% .400
Cannons—Nick Marrocco: SOG 10; GA 9; Sv% .526
Di Miller, Correspondent Denver Outlaws
Lacrosse is Awesome©