MLL Opening Weekend: Outlaws, Cannons, Bayhawks Prevail in Front of Big Home Crowds
The Denver Outlaws, Boston Cannons and defending Major League Lacrosse champion Chesapeake Bayhawks won their 2011 season openers Saturday in front of substantial crowds.
The Outlaws, the standard-bearers for MLL attendance, got a team-record 10 points from Brendan Mundorf and cruised to an 18-10 victory over the Hamilton Nationals before 9,993 rain-soaked fans at Invesco Field.
"It's huge," new head coach Tom Slate said of the fan support in Denver. "The fans were very into it and they are passionate about it."
The Cannons, meanwhile, drew 9,122 fans to Harvard Stadium, where Ryan Boyle (three goals, four assists) and Kip Turner (21 saves) kept Boston one step ahead of the Long Island Lizards all night in a 15-12 victory.
The Bayhawks were not sharp, head coach Brendan Kelly admitted, but they managed to defeat the revamped Rochester Rattlers 14-10 thanks to solid defense and hat tricks from Ben Rubeor and Brian Carroll. The game brought 7,916 fans to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"It always feels good to get that first win under your belt. I thought we grounded that one out," Chesapeake head coach Brendan Kelly said. "We were a little jumpy early on. We're playing some new faces and we had to get the guys to settle down and find some chemistry."
Said Rubeor: "We preach ball movement and sharing the ball and I thought we did that tonight. We don't care who scores as long as we get the win at the end. We started to click toward the end, but we were not nearly as sharp as we have to be. We still need to get a lot better on offense."
While success at the gate is nothing new for Denver and Boston -- the teams averaged 10,778 and 8,256 fans last year, resepectively -- Chesapeake's attendance was nearly double its single-game average (4,412) from a year ago. That bodes well for the MLL, which would consider it a success if all six MLL franchises could top 5,000 fans on average.
Long Island averaged 3,131 fans in 2010. Toronto (3,079) and Chicago (2,364) are no longer operating in those cities, with the National moving to Hamilton and the erstwhile Machine now being the Rochester Rattlers.