Major League Lacrosse has a long and exciting legacy, particularly surrounding its playoffs and MLL Championship history. We’re taking a look at all of the previous MLL Championships.
MLL Championship History
MLL Championship History Throwback Video
MLL Championships (2001-2018)
We’ve compiled the entire MLL championship history, including winners of the coveted Steinfeld Trophy and other interesting information. Let’s dive right in!
2001: Long Island Lizards vs. Baltimore Bayhawks
The Long Island Lizards took home the first-ever Steinfeld Trophy — named after MLL founder Jake Steinfeld — over the Baltimore Bayhawks at Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A little over 6,700 people attended the first-ever outdoor pro lacrosse title match. These two teams actually played the first-ever MLL game on June 7, when Baltimore beat Long Island 16-13. Long Island would get the last laugh as it would win the first of its three MLL championships.
2002: Baltimore Bayhawks vs. Long Island Lizards
The 2001 finalists would once again meet in the MLL championship the following year in 2002 — this time the Bayhawks would take home the hardware. Baltimore demolished the Lizards 21-13 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio in front of 5,500 people. Casey Powell’s Lizards were downed by the Bayhawks — led by Mark Millon and Gary Gait — in what was a matchup of some of the greatest lacrosse legends to ever play the game.
2003: Long Island Lizards vs. Baltimore Bayhawks
If these teams hadn’t gotten sick of each other at this point, then they must have excellent preventative healthcare. All bad jokes aside, this MLL championship proved to be a classic, as the Lizards would take things into overtime to win their second Steinfeld Trophy. Roughly 6,500 people attended the championship game at Villanova Stadium as Kevin Lowe was named the championship MVP after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
2004: Philadelphia Barrage vs. Boston Cannons
In what was the first MLL championship not played between the Lizards and Bayhawks, the Philadelphia Barrage took down the Boston Cannons, 13-11, in front of a championship record 8,200 fans in Boston, Massachusetts. Lacrosse legend Greg Cattrano was named the MLL Championship MVP. Philadelphia had virtually swept all of the regular season player awards, as Ryan Boyle won Rookie of the Year, Sal LoCascio was named Coach of the Year, Nicky Polanco won Defensive Player of the Year, Blake Miller won Offensive Player of the Year, and Cattrano took home Goalie of the Year honors. Talk about a star-studded roster. This season also marked the first time that the MLL played a game in the western United States as Baltimore took down Rochester in Seahawks Stadium on May 22 and Baltimore defeated New Jersey on June 5 at INVESCO Field in Denver.
2005: Baltimore Bayhawks vs. Long Island Lizards
Matching up against the same team four out of five consecutive years would certainly qualify as a rivalry. The Bayhawks defeated Long Island, 15-9, in Boston, Massachusetts in front of 6,800 fans. Gary Gait was named MLL Championship MVP for the Bayhawks, as he served as a player-coach for that season. Gait would intially retire following the 2005 season, but would come back to play one more season for the Toronto Nationals in 2009. For those keeping score, that makes the championship series between the two teams tied at 2-2.
2006: Philadelphia Barrage vs. Denver Outlaws
Talk about a shellacking. The Barrage handled the Denver Outlaws to the tune of a 23-12 championship victory. The MLL championship was played in Carson, California in front of 5,300 fans as Roy Colsey was named MVP. This was the year that marked the first expansion teams for the MLL, as the Outlaws, the Chicago Machine, Los Angeles Riptide and San Francisco Dragons would all join the league. The Outlaws had the most successful season out of all of the expansion teams, as they would make it to the title game following a 10-2 regular season record.
2007: Philadelphia Barrage vs. Los Angeles Riptide
In what would be the Barrage’s third MLL championship, the most of any MLL franchise at this point, Philadelphia beat the Los Angeles Riptide in Rochester, New York. The Riptide had an impressive 9-3 regular season record heading into the contest, as the Barrage’s regular season record was the same. Some first from this season in the league included John Grant Jr. breaking the league’s then-single season points record with 71 points, while an MLL record crowd of 19,793 fans turned out to watch the July 4th game between the Machine and Outlaws in Denver.
2008: Rochester Rattlers vs. Denver Outlaws
This would be the first MLL championship in MLL championship history for the Rochester Rattlers, as they would take down the Denver Outlaws in what was Denver’s second championship appearance. The game was played at Harvard in front of 8,400 fans who saw the former Maryland Terrapin Joe Walters take home the MLL Championship MVP award. The Rattlers would post a 16-6 final score over the Outlaws, sealing their championship victory.
2009: Toronto Nationals vs. Denver Outlaws
What’s the saying? Always the bridesmaid, never the bride? While that may have described Denver’s first three MLL championship appearances, that wouldn’t hold true forever. The Nationals won a close 10-9 matchup in the title game held in Annapolis, Maryland, but Denver would eventually find their stride and win three titles of their own over the next nine seasons. This was the only MLL championship for the Nationals. One major change from this season was when the league began to allow a fourth long pole to play at one time on the field in addition to the other three long poles. Interestingly enough, it was also the season where all three Powell brothers — Casey, Ryan and Mikey — would sit out from league play.
2010: Chesapeake Bayhawks vs. Long Island Lizards
In what would be the last time these two teams have met in the championship, the Bayhawks would take the 3-2 championship series lead in MLL titles as they took down the Long Island Lizards, 13-9. Kyle Hartzell would be named the MLL Playoffs MVP. Interestingly enough, the Lizards only posted a 7-5 record while the Chesapeake Bayhawks went 6-6 during the regular season, good for third and fourth place in the league at the end of the regular season, respectively.
2011: Boston Cannons vs. Hamilton Nationals
In what was an exciting 10-9 finish between Boston and Hamilton, the Cannons would seal their first-ever MLL championship title as Jordan Burke would be named playoffs MVP. Paul Rabil was named league-MVP while also winning Offensive Player of the Year, while Bill Daye took home Coach of the Year award for the Cannons. Brodie Merrill would be named Defensive Player of the Year for the Nationals.
2012: Chesapeake Bayhawks vs. Denver Outlaws
Winning their league-best fourth MLL championship in MLL championship history, the Bayhawks defeated the Outlaws 16-6 at Harvard Stadium in front of 7,300 fans. Coincidentally, this was the exact same score that the Outlaws lost by when they faced the Rattlers in the 2008 MLL Championship. Ben Rubeor was named playoffs MVP, as Paul Rabil would pick up another Offensive Player of the Year award, while Brendan Mundort would win league-MVP for Denver.
2013: Chesapeake Bayhawks vs. Charlotte Hounds
When you’re good, you’re good. The Bayhawks would seal their fifth MLL championship over the Hounds, who were appearing in their first-ever MLL title game. John Grant Jr. was named playoffs MVP for the Bayhawks in a game held in Chester, Pennsylvania. This season would see another attendance record fall as 31,000 fans would attend the Denver Outlaws game against the New York Lizards.
2014: Denver Outlaws vs. Rochester Rattlers
Denver would finally win the first of its three MLL championships, as John Grant Jr. would return to the Mile High City to help lead the Outlaws to its title win. Grant would pick up playoff-MVP honors for the second year in a row, this time for the Outlaws. Of note from this season was when Tom Schreiber was drafted as the first overall selection by the Ohio Machine.
2015: New York Lizards vs. Rochester Rattlers
The New York Lizards would defeat the Rochester Rattlers, 15-12, led by a star-studded cast including league-MVP Greg Gurenlian, playoffs-MVP Paul Rabil and other stars like Rob Pannell, Ned Crotty and Tommy Palasek. This would be the Lizards fourth MLL championship.
2016: Denver Outlaws vs. Ohio Machine
In what was a high-scoring affair, the Outlaws would outgun the Machine 19-18 in front of 5,500 fans in Kennesaw, Georgia. Eric Law would take home playoff-MVP honors for the Outlaws as Denver would win its second championship in three years. The Atlanta Blaze were announced as a new MLL team for the 2016 season and would finish the year with a 4-10 record.
2017: Ohio Machine vs. Denver Outlaws
The Machine would win the franchise’s first MLL title against an Outlaws team bent on creating a dynasty. Marcus Holman took home playoff-MVP honors for the Machine in front of 7,500 fans in Frisco, Texas at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility as Holman would score three goals straight in four minutes in the fourth quarter and six goals overall to lead the Machine. This year marked a league-low average attendance with under 2,000 fans per game.
2018: Denver Outlaws v. Dallas Rattlers
In what was a rematch of the 2014 MLL championship, the Outlaws would seal their third MLL title as they defeated the Rattlers 16-12 in Charleston, South Carolina. Matt Kavanaugh would win playoff-MVP honors. This was a big year for the league in terms of milestones and events, headlined by the loss of Atlanta Blaze head coach Dave Huntley. Marcus Holman would score a league-record 11 goals over the New York Lizards on April 29, Paul Rabil became the league’s all-time leading scorer with his 542 point (a record since broken by John Grant Jr.), and Kaisuke Iwamoto became the first player born in Japan to start in an MLL game. Iwamoto played the goalie position.
So, what does 2019 have in store? Chesapeake will be chasing their league-best sixth championship as they will need to beat the Atlanta Blaze in the semifinals to face the winner of Denver and Boston. The season series stands at 2-1 for the Bayhawks, while the Outlaws have an identical season series record over the Cannons. MLL Championship Weekend should not disappoint. Read the full preview here.