By Steve Rollins | 5/17/12 3:30 PM
Denver Outlaws rookie and face-off specialist Stephen Robarge was named the MLL Cascade Rookie of the Week in Week 3 after winning 17-of-30 face-offs in his debut performance. The VMI alum helped the Outlaws improve to 3-0 with a 19-11 win over the Long Island Lizards on Saturday. MLL’s Steve Rollins had an opportunity to speak with Robarge to gain insight into his first career MLL game.
In your MLL debut, you went up against a tough team and walked away with Rookie of the Week honors. How does it feel to set the bar so high coming out of the gate?
Absolutely, it was a huge honor and obviously something that I didn’t expect. I didn’t even think I’d be taking any face-offs that day. It was a great time; I think it definitely sets the bar. I’m playing with a great team who’s battling for first place right now so it makes me even more motivated to keep working so that I keep up with my team.
Going into last week’s game, what were your thoughts on facing-off against the league’s leader in face-off win percentage? Did you know beforehand that his nickname is “The Beast?”
(Laughs) I actually watched Greg Gurenlian play a lot and he’s the kind of player that I admire and I respect the way he plays the game. It was awesome going against him and I really knew very well that I wasn’t going to be able to muffle him out or do anything like that. Basically what I did was, whenever he got the clamp I tried to drive into him, I used my size and kept scrapping for balls. It was awesome; I even had to pull a rookie move before the opening face-off to tell him that it was an honor to play against him.
Lots of people say that the professional game is different than the collegiate game. What would you say the biggest difference is since you just made that transition?
Just the pace. MLL is a big step from college, to play with guys who have every pass on point and just rocket it to one another, it’s unreal. It took a lot of time for me to get used to it, especially in the practices before hand and even in the game. Knowing that everyone outweighs you, it’s unreal that five of your steps are two of their steps. That’s the biggest thing, the pace and how big everybody is.
There was a lot of excitement about you coming into the league after dominating the NCAA in face-offs. Talk about how that will carry over to Major League Lacrosse.
Honestly I would love to have the same success. I think a lot of it was playing for a small college like VMI and a big argument was the strength of the schedule. A lot of it was the work ethic and how I would battle after face-offs. I mean obviously I didn’t win every single one clean but I think a lot of it was the hustle from the wing guys and myself, so that’s what I really want to bring to the Denver Outlaws and to the face-off game in the pros.
This weekend will be a battle of the undefeated with the Outlaws hosting the Boston Cannons. Chris Eck of the Cannons will be another tough match-up for you. What do you have to do to repeat your performance from last week?
Well you have to show respect and the majority of the guys in this league are better face-off guys than I am and I will be the first to tell you that. I think they’re just faster off the whistle. I’ve watched Chris Eck play and he’s a tremendous competitor and a great face-off guy. But what I’m going to do is use the same method as him. If he gets the clamp I’m just going to work hard and drive into him and just make sure it’s a 50/50 ground ball. I’d like to think that nobody will out hustle me on a face-off. So I’m going to use that and I’ll get strong wing play from my wing guys. That’s basically what I’m going to try and do. Tie him up and again out-hustle him.
If you had to choose – Facebook or Twitter?
What’s the most played artist or song on your iPod?
Favorite sport other than lacrosse?
What’s the most important thing for aspiring MLL players to do to improve their game?
Never think you're good enough. I know its cliché but you have to think that someone is better than you and you should never be satisfied with how good you are.
So many to choose from. I have to go with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The Denver Outlaws will host the Boston Cannons in a battle of the undefeated on Saturday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. MT (9:00 p.m. ET) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo. Watch live on ESPN3.com.
MLL will host its marquee event in Palm Beach County, FL this year on Saturday, June 30! To buy your tickets now, click here. To learn more about the 2012 MLL All-Star Game presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, click here. The 2012 MLL All-Star Game will feature the best lacrosse players in the world, all on one field and will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.