By Steve Rollins | 6/5/12 2:00 PM
Denver Outlaws rookie attackman Mark Matthews was named the MLL Cascade Rookie of the Week in Week 5 after scoring 4 goals and 2 assists in his debut performance. The Denver alum had quite the first game but the Outlaws fell just short against the Bayhawks on Saturday 18-16. MLL’s Steve Rollins had an opportunity to speak with Matthews to gain insight into his first career MLL game.
So in your very first MLL game you won the title of Rookie of the Week. How does it feel to set the bar so high coming out of the gate? Will this be an indication of what’s to come this season?
Its special to play with such a good group of guys. To have a guy like Brendan Mundorf on the line with you and [Jordan McBride] to help you, it helps set that bar high. Hopefully that will continue and in the next couple of weeks it can help the guys get the win.
I know you’ve played in some big games over your college career, but talk about how you felt before the game knowing that you’re playing in your first professional lacrosse game.
I was nervous, for sure. I didn’t really get to do many of the things that I used to do before a college game. When I got out there for the warm up it was a lot different than a college game. Mundorf was keeping my head in the game and keeping me relaxed. When you have a guy like Mundorf keeping you relaxed it’s a little easier to play.
Talk to us about how it feels to share the field with one of the best attackmen in the MLL, Brendan Mundorf. How will you learn from him to help improve your game each week?
Absolutely, he’s one of the best players in the world. He was teaching me on and off the field the last couple days before the game. Throughout the year I’d like to pick up a few pointers from him.
Lots of people say that the professional game is different than the collegiate game. What would you say the biggest difference is after making that transition?
I think the speed of the game is a lot different from the college game. The ball goes into the goalie's stick and you have 30 seconds to get it over and into the box, so you have to be ready down at the attack end because the goalies are going to throw it down looking to get a transition going quickly, especially with the shot clock. The size of the players is another difference. These guys are a lot bigger, stronger and a lot more mean than the college guys.
How do you feel about the shot clock in the MLL?
It’s my favorite thing about the MLL game now. For a while I was wondering why they didn’t put one in the college game and now I finally have one. It puts more urgency to the game, you have to get an opportunity to get that shot off quick otherwise you give the other team an odd man opportunity. I’m a big fan of the fast moving game.
What style of play would you say you have as an attackman?
I used to think that I was a crease attackman that would just catch and shoot, but not anymore. The first practice I had with the Outlaws it seemed as though I was more of a player that would come from behind the cage. I showed that by dodging a lot last game.
You scored 4 goals and had 2 assists in your first game but overall what do you want to contribute to the Denver Outlaws this season?
I’d like to show up every night and hopefully contribute a goal or two; something to give us a chance to win. Hopefully I won’t turn the ball over too many times. I know I did a couple times last week. I’d like to put my shots on net and give the guys a better chance to win.
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Kate UptonThe Denver Outlaws are traveling to play the Ohio Machine on Saturday June 9 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio. Watch live on ESPN 3.