July 27, 2013

Outlaws Clinch Top Seed, Keep Perfect Season in Play

from staff reports

DENVER — With a 14-12 win against the Chesapeake Bayhawks in front of 8,235 fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Denver Outlaws clinched the MLL's top playoff seed on Saturday. The Outlaws also secured a league record for best winning percentage in a single season by improving to 12-0 on the season.

The previous win-percentage record was shared by four teams who all went 10-2 (.833 pct.). At 12-0, the Outlaws are guaranteed no worse than a 12-2 (.857 pct.) finish.

Saturday's win marked Denver's 18th consecutive regular-season victory, a mark that has more than doubled the previous league record for seven straight wins. The Outlaws' 12 wins on the year tie a league record that was last reached in 2002.

Denver's 7-0 home record this year represents the first seven-win home campaign by a team in league history and just the fourth undefeated home record for a season in league annals. The Outlaws went 6-0 at home in 2008, which is the last season a team accomplished that feat.

Midfielders Jeremy Sieverts (four goals) and Drew Snider (three goals, one assist) paced Denver, which scored the first four goals of the fourth quarter to break a 10-10 tie.

Denver coach Jim Stagnitta downplayed the significance of clinching the top seed. “I don't think it matters. Everyone is going to say that is crazy," he said. "They are all good and we're going to have to beat some good teams to win a championship. We get a couple extra hours of rest, but I think it is as much about maintain momentum and continuing to play well going into the final four."

"It's our goal to win the championship," Stagnitta added. "If we can go undefeated and do that, that's great. We’re not going into any game trying to do anything different than trying to win. So if we can continue to do the same things and be successful, then we do have a chance to go undefeated, but it's one game at a time."

Attackman Drew Westervelt scored four goals for Chesapeake, including three straight in the first quarter as the Bayhawks jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Outlaws fought back to tie the game at 5 in the second quarter.

Denver and Hamilton (9-3) have clinched playoff berths. Chesapeake (7-5), which had a three-game winning streak snapped, remains in third place, a game ahead of Charlotte (6-6) and two games up on Rochester (5-7) and Boston (5-7).

New York (3-9) and Ohio (1-11) have been eliminated from playoff contention.

“We have to win another game to get into the playoffs," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said. "I’m not worried about momentum or seeding right now. We just need to get the next one,” Cottle said.

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