Denver Outlaws rookie Brennan O'Neill

Brennan O’Neill sets lacrosse world on fire with legendary performance

By Topher Adams | Jun 8, 2024

The Denver Outlaws trailed 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Then Brennan O’Neill happened. 

O’Neill had a good, albeit unremarkable, game to that point, but in the fourth quarter, he went thermonuclear to change the game and – maybe Denver’s season. 

The No. 1 draft pick scored six goals in the fourth quarter and overtime, including the game-tying and game-winning goals. The Utah Archers tried anything and everything to stop O’Neill, but the rookie phenom showed why he’s viewed as a generational talent.

When Outlaws head coach Tim Soudan was asked after the game if he’d ever seen a performance like that from an individual player, his answer was simple: “No.”

O’Neill’s fourth-quarter supernova turned a sleepy blowout into an early contender for game of the season and a defining moment in lacrosse. 

“When you have Brennan O'Neill on your side and he decides to take over the game in the fourth quarter, it's pretty special to watch,” Soudan said. “I was as much a fan as everybody sitting in the stands watching what he was capable of.”

Soudan didn’t say anything to O’Neill late in the game to cause a switch, but as Denver kept feeding its star the ball, he finally broke through and couldn’t be stopped. 

“We just kept throwing him the ball and expecting big things, and it happened,” Soudan said.

Despite facing Utah’s Brett Dobson, one of the best goalies in the world, O’Neill kept things simple and tried not to think. That turned into a dominant shooting performance, as he shot 46.7% despite a high volume of 15 shots. 

“Sometimes you knock a couple down and you just start thinking less,” said O’Neill, who became the ninth rookie ever to tally nine points in a game (6G, 1T, 1A). “We were down by a lot, and all the message was just play and go hard and see what happens.”

The Archers couldn’t shut down O’Neill once he got on a roll. Utah head coach Chris Bates credited Denver’s ability to get O’Neill the ball in the flow of the offense and acknowledged how hard it can be to stop the former Duke star when he gets going.

“When he wants to take over, you can just see that he's got the ability to do that,” Bates said. 

O’Neill is already one of the most celebrated players in lacrosse with a bevy of accolades and accomplishments, including a World Lacrosse Championship and multiple NCAA Final Four appearances. Friday’s win was another memorable moment to add to that burgeoning legacy.

“It’s really cool to get your first win as a professional, so that’s always gonna hold a place in my heart,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill’s breakout could serve as a turning point in the Outlaws season. After staring down the barrel of a disappointing 0-2 start, his fourth quarter turned the tide against the reigning champions.