Denver rallies for MLL crown
by Michael Foster
MDJ Sports Correspondent
August 24, 2014 12:35 AM | 1199 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Denver players, officials and friends pile onto the turf at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, celebrating their rally past Rochester for the MLL title Saturday night.
<Br>Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Denver players, officials and friends pile onto the turf at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, celebrating their rally past Rochester for the MLL title Saturday night.
Special photo by Cecil Copeland
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KENNESAW — The Denver Outlaws might have been best described as the Buffalo Bills of Major League Lacrosse, owning a 0-4 record in the league’s championship game.

They won’t have to worry about carrying that baggage any longer.

Veteran attack John Grant Jr. used a late surge to record a hat trick, and Jeremy Sieverts slung in a rare 2-point goal to help propel the Outlaws to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Rochester Rattlers, 12-11, in front of a near-capacity crowd at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

Denver’s B.J. O’Hara became the first coach in MLL history to win a title with two different teams, with his first coming with Grant in Rochester and in 2008 — coincidentally, against Denver.

This was the first year for O’Hara and Grant with the Outlaws organization.

“That just means I’m old,” O’Hara joked. “I’m so happy for the Denver Outlaws organization. I appreciate the confidence they put in me this year. I inherited a great bunch of guys who were dedicated since Day 1 to getting to this game and getting a trophy themselves, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Grant, who made his MLL debut in 2001, the league’s inaugural season, had already won four championships, but he felt particularly prideful in helping the Outlaws to the top.

“It doesn’t matter,” the 39-year-old Grant said of his past. “I really wanted to help this team win. They deserve it. They’ve been close for so many years, and to finally get over that hump was something special.”

Denver trailed Rochester 10-6 after three quarters and was chasing the Rattlers all game, but Grant began the final period with two consecutive goals to finally put the momentum in his team’s favor.

After Rochester answered with a Dave Lawson goal, Sieverts brought the game to a tie for the first time since 1-all when he fired the 2-point shot — an MLL-exclusive variation, similar to the 3-point arc in basketball — past Rochester’s John Galloway.

“He leads the league in that category,” O’Hara said, “so there’s no surprise he did that there.”

Rochester took a 5-1 first-quarter lead, establishing complete control early on. All six of the game’s first goals were unassisted. Lawson and teammate John Ranagan had hat tricks for Rochester.

Statistics were relatively even at the game’s end, with goalkeepers John Galloway of Rochester and Jesse Schwartzman of Denver recording 11 and nine saves, respectively. Denver led the shots-on-goal category, 22-20, while also edging Rochester 14-12 in faceoffs.

The announced crowd of 8,149 was the third-largest in MLL championship history, and the fourth-largest in the stadium’s history. The stadium record is 9,345, for a Women’s Professional Soccer game in 2011.

“I’ve been playing in the league since it began, and this is one of the best venues I’ve ever played in,” Grant said. “It’s almost like the place was built for lacrosse. The grass is great and the fans were right on top of the action all night.”
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