The 2014 Championship came down to the final minute of regulation. High intensity surged throughout the entire match and therefore, very little went wrong for either team. What went right for both the Rattlers and Outlaws was quite a bit.
Atlanta surpassed all expectations with a powerful crowd of over 8,000 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Supporters all around came out to the event: followers of the teams in competition and fans of the MLL and lacrosse.
The cosmopolitan bubble in Georgia boasted a good size arena for the event. It seemed central to city and tourist life, making it ideal for a permanent team location.
Season-long weaknesses were constantly worked at. Around the mid-season point, John Ortolani was struggling at the draw, and by the end of the playoffs he was a dominant force.
Rochester seemed to take the approach of get ahead early and coast. They came out relentless and aggressive, drawing first blood within 19 seconds of the game commencing. John Galloway had some flaws in his goalie performance earlier this season; in the championship showing he looked top notch.
Persistence has been defined by Denver. In every season as a young franchise, this team has made its way deep into the playoffs and championships but were never able to capitalize. The answer to those woes seems to be in coach B.J. O’Hara, who also coached Rochester to their 2008 victory.
John Grant Jr. had a stellar performance with a hat trick and assist. He seemed to lead the efforts for the Outlaws, and found many offensive opportunities throughout the match to help the team.
Though Denver seemingly lagged behind on the scoreboard most of the game, O’Hara has many tricks in his books to overcome resiliency with persistence and timing.
If you watched the Outlaws performances, I think they could have pulled ahead at any time. Think about it, they’re actually better than the Rattlers and have the better coach and players. What would hold them back until the final seconds? O’Hara’s leadership (in a good way) because he was able to keep the team within competitive range but surprise Rochester when they least expected it. Bite them with their own venom.
MLL lacrosse has seen some significant growth this year. Atlanta ended up being a terrific location for the championship, most teams stayed competitive for at least half the season, and publicity from FIL and the NCAA has truly increased lacrosse’s popularity.
Rattlers and Outlaws demonstrated some of the highest quality lacrosse can be played at, and just how far the leagues and game have come in the past year. Youth and game fans should all pay particular attention to the MLL as I expect unprecedented growth in the next few years.