By Sam Gest | 8/8/13 4:00 PM
The 2013 Denver Outlaws are having the most successful regular season in MLL history and are arguably the best team the league has seen in its 13 years of existence. The team is stacked with offensive weapons at all six offensive positions, and combined with a sturdy defense, they have been blowing out teams all season. But regardless of how talented a team you are, you can’t have success like this without a solid presence in goal, and that’s exactly what Denver has in Jesse Schwartzman.
But “solid” would be selling the 2013 performance of the seven-year veteran well short. Despite struggling in the first game of the season (a 20-15 win over the Hounds), Schwartzman is putting up numbers unlike anything the league has seen in recent years.
In terms of save percentage, he is having his best season yet, stopping 60 percent of shots, which is second-best in the league, and an improvement of five percent from last season. His mark of 168 saves is also good for second in the league, behind only New York’s Drew Adams.
But the most impressive thing about Schwartzman’s season is that he simply isn’t giving up enough goals for his team to lose games. Through 13 games in 2013, the Outlaws netminder is giving up only 9.56 goals per game. That’s an impressive number at any level, but in an offense-oriented league like the MLL, it’s simply unheard of. For reference, the best single season goals against average in MLL history is 9.87, a record from 2011 held by none other than Mr. Schwartzman himself. Barring a miraculous collapse in week 14, Schwartzman will shatter that record. For further reference, the player with the second lowest goals against average is Chesapeake’s Kip Turner, who sports an also-impressive 10.13 (good for third all time).
What makes Schwartzman such a great goalie is that he plays a fundamental style that allows him to be incredibly consistent. He has been a brick wall all season, save the previously mentioned 15 goal let up in week one. He’s got a big, wide body, and he uses it tremendously, as his crease positioning is as good as you’ll find. That positioning puts him in perfect shape to make all the saves he should make, as well as give him a chance to make many that he probably shouldn’t. This is a huge reason why he has allowed only a pair of two-point goals, half as many as the next fewest allowed by a goalie.
The Outlaws have all the weapons to run the table and win the first championship in team history. But as we’ve seen through the years, you don’t have a chance in the playoffs unless you have a solid presence in net. Fortunately, they don’t have to worry about that, as Jesse Shwartzman has been as reliable as they come in 2013.
You can catch Schwartzman in action on Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink, August 24 and 25 at PPL Park in Philadelphia. For tickets and more information visit www.majorleaguelacrosse.com/Championship-Weekend.