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MLL Championship Weekend: Winners And Losers

Congratulations to the Chesapeake Bayhawks on winning the 2019 Major League Lacrosse Championship! MLL Championship Weekend was certainly eventful, let’s dive right in.

It was a wild weekend of games as all three were decided in the final minutes with no shortage of drama. The games were physical, fast, and produced several SportsCenter Top 10 plays. In the semifinals, Chesapeake defeated the Atlanta Blaze in overtime and the Denver Outlaws came back to beat the Boston Cannons to set up a Chesapeake vs Denver championship game. The Bayhawks would pull out the victory and raise the Steinfeld Trophy. Some players stepped up big to help their teams, while other factors in the games made for some unfortunate moments. Let’s take a look at who had a winning weekend and who had a weekend to forget in the last edition of winners and losers for the pro field lacrosse this year.

MLL Championship Weekend: Winners And Losers

Winners

Steele Stanwick

Stanwick stepped away from professional lacrosse for a few years, but his return to the Bayhawks has paid off in a big way. Stanwick has always been one of the smoothest dodging and feeding attackmen in the game. With 4 goals and 3 assists on the weekend he put on a performance reminiscent of his days at Virginia. His overtime game winning goal against the Atlanta Blaze was perfectly placed and his effort and leadership all over the field was a huge reason the Bayhawks were the team raising the Steinfeld Trophy. Stanwick also made sure Jesse Bernhardt, who recently lost his father, was the next person to raise the trophy after he received it first. It was a weekend Stanwick and the Bayhawks won’t soon forget.

John Grant Jr.

Grant scored 3 goals in under 3 minutes in the Outlaws’ semifinal game against Boston that showed why he has won so many championships in his incredible career. In the championship game, he was throwing one handed passes on a rope and leading his team in every huddle. Not only was he leading the Outlaws on the field, but he was drawing up plays and essentially serving as the offensive coordinator. Grant isn’t as fast as he used to be, but he is still one of the hardest players to defend because he is dodging like a train that keeps on coming and a pass or shot could come at any second behind his back or with one hand. Grant came out of retirement to play this year and unfortunately wasn’t able to win another championship. Will he play next season? I really hope so and lacrosse community would love him to do so, but if this was his last performance it was another masterpiece. Thank you, John Grant Jr., for showing what it means to be a true competitor and an ambassador of this great game.

Rookies

First year players on all four playoff teams had impressive weekends and were crucial to their teams’ success with Chesapeake’s Andrew Kew having the biggest impact with his game winning goal in the championship. Alex Woodall, Brendan Sunday, Chris Aslanian, Jack Jasinski, John Wagner, and Warren Jeffrey all played well. Warren Jeffrey was even able to contain John Grant Jr. for most of the championship game.

Honorable Mentions

Mikie Schlosser

Mikie Schlosser is a bad bad man. No one can dodge downhill quite like Schlosser and he was a matchup nightmare for both the Cannons and the Bayhawks. His on the run rips were huge for the Outlaws momentum in both games as they made their comebacks.

Lyle Thompson

Lyle racked up more awards over the weekend including Offensive Player of the Year and MLL MVP and showed why on the way to winning another championship. Even with a minor injury, Lyle was the most dangerous dodger on the field as he stutter stepped and found creative ways to score as well as find his teammates. Lyle plays with the same compete level in the first game of the season as the championship game.

Losers

Referees

No matter what sport it is referees as going to shoulder a lot of blame when one team doesn’t get the outcome they want. The crew that worked the semifinal and championship games are some of the most experienced in lacrosse, but watching these games there were definitely some questionable calls. Every ref calls a game differently with some allowing bigger hits, wards, questionable pushes in a GB battle, or slashes while others will make every call they see. This happens in the NLL, PLL, MLL, and at all levels. People make mistakes, but there was no consistency in how a diving goal was called throughout the MLL season even with video reviews.

This is not a goal:

This is a goal:

The different camera angles make it hard to see, but both players made contact with the goalie before the ball went in the net. Only one of these plays was a goal. Either the rules need to be clearer or video review needs to be handled better. Zach Currier had several diving goals called off this year and at the end of the championship game he let out his frustrations to the refs, which was unfortunate to see, but understandable.

Attendance

The championship game was played at 11:00 a.m. MT on a Sunday full of NFL games. That is going to make it hard to fill the stands for a professional lacrosse game. There was still a good amount of Denver Outlaws fans in attendance with 6,374 fans being the final number, but it was nothing like what they get for their annual 4th of July game. I was glad Denver made it to the finals because if it would have been a Chesapeake – Boston championship matchup, attendance would have been much much lower. Hopefully the schedule can be tinkered with to avoid this situation again next season.

On that note, pro field lacrosse is officially done for the year, but the offseason may end up being much more interesting. The fate of both the PLL and MLL hang in the balance. Will both still exist by next summer? Or will we see a major change in the coming months?

Whatever happens pro lacrosse has never had more eyes on it and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the sport in the next year.

Who were your winners and losers of MLL Championship Weekend?

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