Congratulation to the MLL's Denver Outlaws for winning their teams first Steinfeld Trophy in their 10 year existence. The game capped off one of the best MLL season's ever with a league of lacrosse all-stars in every market.
The match up was just what the commissioner ordered, hard fought, close and exciting in front of 8,000 lacrosse fans in a future MLL market - SUCCESS!!!
The Rochester Rattlers had a tremendous season coming in to the championship as the number one seed, surprising many of us who knew they would not be one of the last two teams standing. Credit Coach Soudan and his Rattlers team in proving us wrong but even more so, having a season that any team would want. Congrats to the Rochester Rattlers fora hard fought championship game, oh by the way, I think we will be seeing more of this young talented team in years to come, mea culpa, mea culpa!!!!
The Denver Outlaws proved that if you don't succeed the first time then try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try. try, try again! If you watched the game, it became clear that Rochester wanted to take down the Outlaws by putting them in a chase position which historically has been Denver's achilles heal. In fact, after Denver captured the first goal of the game then the Rattlers exploded with a 5-0 run. The Outlaws grabbed a much needed transition goal by Sabastiani to stop the bleeding. The Outlaws went in to the locker room at half time keeping it close by two goals, but more importantly defusing the momentum of the Rattlers.
The Rattlers picked up where they left off with 2 unanswered goals and solid defensive play allowed them to double up the outlaws 8-4. The remainder of third had Law / Wolf - Seiverts/Lawson trading goals ending with the Rattlers nervously holding a 3 goal lead.
Now 15:00 left in the game - dondadadonda....dondadadonda....(my attempt at dramatic music). Enter the big game super hero John Grant Jr.! The fourth quarter became the John Grant Jr. show as he almost single handily took control of the game, two goals and one assist in the fourth added to his first half goal gave him a hat trick, but more importantly gave the Outlaws an energy that was palpable. The feel of game changed from comfortable control by the Rattlers to increased optimism by Denver all by the play of Grant. Jeremy Sieverts stuck a dagger in the hearts of the Rochester Rattlers and their fans with a game tying two point goal with about 5:30 left in the game.
On the edge of their seats, the fans packed into KSU Stadium and fans in their living rooms were about to witness history! In a little of foreshadowing - Earlier in the week Coach Soudan said Drew Snider needed to be contained if they wanted to win this game and for 59 minutes they were successful with this plan. Almost as if the MLL had scripted the game to finish in dramatic fashion, the Outlaws would get the Championship winning goal from - you guessed it - Drew Snider with only :56 seconds left on the clock! The final face-off was won by Kelly and time ticked away. Denver would win their first MLL title in their ten years in the league.
The MVP of the game was John Grant Jr. his second in two years. Grant is simply a player you want on your team, not only is he one of the best players to play the game, not only does he hold the record for most career goals but he is a catalyst for his teammates! The definition of catalyst is
something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
a person or thing that precipitates an event or change:
a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.
He is someone that certainly changes the game by doing something that would create a spark others can feed off. That catalyst was not his behind the back over the shoulder shot or his wrap around move that left him all alone in front of the cage, it was his assist to Eric Law that pulled the outlaws within one goal. It was Grant that changed the game with his three point performance, his hustle to pick up important ground balls but most importantly his energy and leadership which can not be underestimated. He is winner, he knows how to win and he can change a games outcome with his love and enthusiasm of the game. After the game when interviewed Evan Washburn asked how much longer he would play - Juniors reply "Until someone tells me to stop." Please don't anyone tell him to stop! You might be able to replace a player but you can't replace a catalyst, that cant be taught. John Grant, Jr. is part of the fabric of the game!
Congratulations to both teams! But for the Denver Outlaws organization, Coach O'Hara, the players you are the 2014 Major League Lacrosse Champions that is yours forever!