Matt Kavanagh wasn’t going to let a little rain get in the way of his celebration.
As fireworks burst overhead, the Denver Outlaws gathered together at midfield at MUSC Health Stadium to celebrate the club’s Major League Lacrosse championship over the Dallas Rattlers on Saturday night.
Just as the party was getting going, a heavy downpour fell on Kavanagh and his teammates as they held the Steinfeld Trophy in celebration.
The former Norte Dame star didn’t even notice the rain.
“Did it rain,” Kavanagh joked as he entered the media room after the game. “I didn’t feel like it. It didn’t matter. That was an awesome feeling, being out there with the guys celebrating. It was an awesome feeling.”
Kavanagh scored four goals and added five assists and was named the game’s MVP as he led the Outlaws past the Rattlers 16-12 in the MLL championship game Saturday night before a crowd of about 4,000 at MUSC Health Stadium.
It was the third title in the last five years for the Outlaws and the third time since 2014 that Denver has eliminated the Rattlers from the playoffs.
“Are we a dynasty, yeah, I guess we are,” Kavanagh said. “We’ve got a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. Three straight years in the championship. It was a hard-fought game in the first half, and we got a couple of goals early in the second half and never looked back.”
The Dallas Rattlers had been one of the few teams in MLL that has been able to handle the Denver Outlaws during the regular season. Since 2014, the Rattlers are 7-5 in the regular season against the Outlaws, a club that has been to the MLL title game five times in the last seven seasons. This year alone, the Rattlers beat the Outlaws twice during the regular season, including an overtime thriller in the club’s first game in Frisco, Texas.
Dallas and Chesapeake were the only two teams that the Outlaws did not beat during the regular season.
But come the postseason, the Outlaws have held the upper hand.
Three times since 2014, the Outlaws have ended the Rattlers run at a title, including a 12-11 win in the 2014 championship game. A year ago, Denver won 15-8 in the semifinals.
Dallas led, 9-6, midway through the second quarter on Ryan McNamara’s goal at the 10:23 mark. But the Outlaws reeled off seven consecutive goals, including four to end the half as Denver grabbed a 10-9 lead going into the locker room.
“They got some ground balls and we didn’t get some and that was the difference in the game,” said Dallas coach Bill Warder. “It was a game or runs. We went on a four-goal and three-goal run, and they went on a seven-goal run. That was the difference in the game.”
The Rattlers managed just three goals in the second half. Denver outscored Dallas 10-3 over the final 30 minutes.
“We couldn’t get many possessions, and they kind of choked us off,” Warder said. “They got some resets and they had a ton of possessions. They scored the first three goals of the game and I think spent four minutes playing defense. That kind of wore of down.”
The three losses in the playoffs to the same team has been especially hard for Dallas faceoff specialist Drew Simoneau.
“It’s tough to lose to these guys the way we have during the playoffs,” Simoneau said. “We’ve had some really close games with them, especially during the regular season. We beat them twice this year, but they were both one-goal games. It’s not like they turn it up or anything in the playoffs. The games, even in the playoffs, could have gone either way. A couple of plays here or there and it could have been a different outcome.”
Jordan Wolf and Randy Staats led Dallas’ attack with three goals each in the losing effort.