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Denver Defeats Dallas for Third Steinfeld Trophy Since 2014

August 18, 2018
For the third time in five seasons, the Outlaws are champions! Final score: Denver 16, Dallas 12. 

After falling behind 9-6 to the regular-season champion Dallas Rattlers in the second quarter, Mikie Schlosser, Matt Kavanagh and Kylor Beliistri fueled a 4-0 Outlaws run prior to halftime, and Finn Sullivan, Josh Hawkins and surprise starter Chris Cloutier extended the run to seven in the third to take a 13-9 lead. The Outlaws never trailed again and beat their second regular-season nemesis in as many weeks.

"The four goals at the end of the half gave us a good feeling going into halftime," said winning Outlaws' coach BJ O'Hara. "I had a good feeling. The guys were loose and they thought they outplayed Dallas in the first half."

Coca-Cola Most Valuable Player Kavanagh, who finished the game with four goals and five assists, said that while the Outlaws had great halves during many regular-season games they fell short of playing a complete game until Saturday night at Charleston's MUSC Stadium. 

"Three straight years in the championship game. We came up short last year, but we fought back to get into this position. In the first half it was a hard-fought game, but if you run the tape back on this one, I think that's the definition of a full 60 minutes. It can't get much better than that. It was awesome, " said Kavanagh, who had two goals and four assists in the first 30 minutes.

"Chesapeake and Dallas were the only teams we didn't beat in the regular season," Kavanagh continued. "It's hard to beat a team three times in a season. We got Chesapeake last week and we wanted Dallas this week just to say we beat every team in the league this year."

MLL Coach of the Year, Dallas' Bill Warder, said because eight of his players lost to the Outlaws in 2014 and 14 played in last year's semifinals loss, the loss is a very tough one for his team.

"It hurts because we have a really close team. Guys take it really personally and it means a lot to them," Warder said. He said that lack of possessions and resets allowed the Outlaws to keep Dallas' defense on the field for long stretches. 

"They choked us out a little bit. We couldn't get possession of the ball. They got some resets and it was tough when a team resets like that. They got multiple possessions," Warder said, 

Zach Currier, Schlosser, Bellistri and Cloutier each scored twice for Denver. Cloutier, who was presented the Cascade Rookie of the Year Award on Friday night, hadn't appeared in an Outlaws game since July 22 when he injured his knee against Dallas. Romar Dennis, Eric Law, Hawkins and Sullivan each had a goal apiece. 

Max Adler shook off a slow start at the faceoff X but after tweaking his knee came back with a vengeance to finish the game with 15-of-28 faceoff wins against Drew Simoneau to give Denver vital possessions during the seven-goal run. The Outlaws outscored the Rattlers 10-3 in the final 34:27 of the game, which was eerily similar to the second half of last season's semifinal. In 2017, the Outlaws ran off eight straight goals and outscored the Rattlers 12-5 in the final 32-plus minutes of the contest.

"I thought Max played a little bit better after he got nicked up," O'Hara said. "He was a worthy MVP in my mind for our team."

Dallas faceoff specialist, Drew Simoneau, who had a huge game against New York last week, said that his opponent at the X deserves credit for turning the game towards the Outlaws' favor.

"He got into a rhythm after halftime. I was having a hard time hearing the whistle. I think Max, to his credit, did a better job than I did and was maybe a little quicker in reacting and got some ground balls that should have been mine," Simoneau said. 

Denver goalie Dillon Ward stopped 16-of-28 Dallas shots to earn his first Steinfeld Trophy. Ward replaced Jack Kelly as soon as the pair returned from the FIL World Championships in Israel after Kelly had hurt his knee. With the victory, defender Mike Simon earned his fifth MLL Championship and is now tied with Outlaws assistant, John Grant Jr. on the all-time win list. Matt Bocklet, who has played for 10 seasons for the Outlaws, won his third title with the team. He announced his retirement following the game.

Dallas was led by Randy Staats and Jordan Wolf with three goals apiece but both went silent after halftime. Ned Crotty and John Ranagan chipped in with two goals, and Ty Thompson and Ryan McNamara added one each. John Galloway made 14 saves in defeat.

The three Steinfeld Trophy wins for Denver ties them for the second-most in MLL history with the New York Lizards and the defunct Philadelphia Barrage. The trio trails the Bayhawks' franchise, which has five.