Major League Lacrosse will host its league championship at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m., with the Rochester Rattlers and Denver Outlaws facing off in a rematch of the 2008 championship won by Rochester.
This will be the stadium’s second MLL game as Rattlers coach Tim Soudan, the league’s coach of the year, pit his team against the Boston Cannons in Kennesaw last year.
“I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Soudan said in a conference call Wednesday. “I heard the crowd is going to be really good. We played down there last year and had about 4,500 people. It’s a first-class place — the locker rooms are awesome, the grass is unbelievable. It’s a really nice place to play.”
Kennesaw State also hosted a marquee college lacrosse matchup when Syracuse and St. John’s drew a large crowd in March.
Denver coach B.J. O’Hara expects the atmosphere to be up to par.
“You know, I think the hope for both teams is that there’s a crowd that is engaged and excited and creates some energy in the stands,” O’Hara said. “We’re hoping we can win some of those fans over that maybe don’t know us so well, and I’m sure Rochester feels the same way.”
The Outlaws, who finished the season 9-5 before winning their first playoff contest with a nail-biting 14-13 win over New York, split the season series with the Rattlers (11-4). Rochester won its semifinal 15-11 over Ohio to advance to the championship.
The Outlaws will be led by veteran attacker John Grant Jr., who has played in MLL since its inception in 2001. Grant was part of the Rattlers’ title team in 2008 before winning back-to-back titles with the Erie Bayhawks in 2012 and ’13.
“I don’t think about the past. I don’t think about the future,” Grant said. “I’m just focused on this weekend’s game.”
Unlike past years, where the championship was played a day after the semifinals, the teams have had extra time to prepare.
“It’s a unique opportunity this year with the new setup, where you have a week to prepare, as opposed to, sometimes, less than 24 hours,” xxx said. “I think you’re going to have a better championship game than you have had in the past, just due to the fact you’re going to see two fresh teams that are fully prepared and ready to battle.”
Individual tickets for Saturday’s game start at $20 and can be purchased through the stadium ticket office or by visiting www.majorleaguelacrosse.com.