The Charlotte Hounds ride out a storm from the New York Lizards to climb back in the MLL playoff picture.
The Charlotte Hounds withstood a furious 2nd half run by the New York Lizards to stay in the playoff race on Saturday afternoon. The game was a tale of 2 halves, as the Hounds played arguably their best half of lacrosse this season in the 1st half as they surged to a 11-3 lead at the half. However, the Lizards battled back in the 2nd half to cut the lead to 13-11 before time ran out on them. The run was fueled by the stellar play of rookie Rob Pannell, who ended the game with 5 points on 3 goals and 2 assists to lead New York. For the Hounds, Peet Poillon had 4 points on a hat trick and an assist and Mason Poli added 2 assists and a goal. The loss drops the Lizards to 3-8 on the season, and while they are not mathematically eliminated from postseason competition, they would not only have to win out for the remainder of the season, they would also need some assistance from other teams. One of those teams would be the Hounds, who moved to 5-6, which is good for a tie for the final place in the playoffs with the Cannons, a team that they do not have the tiebreaker against.
For New York, this game marked what will ultimately come to be the end of their season. The team has struggled all year with the massive overhaul that took place in the offseason, and need to figure out exactly what this roster has in store for them going forward. They have one of the youngest offensive units in the league that feature All-Star level talent like Tommy Palasek and Pannell, but struggled to find their way as a unit all season. With this collection of talent, it should be only a matter of time before New York reaches their potential. Unfortunately for Lizards fans, that will most likely not happen this season. They host the Rattlers next weekend in a matchup that will undoubtedly eliminate the loser from the postseason race.
Unlike the Lizards, the Hounds have inserted themselves directly into the playoff picture with this win along with the Cannons loss this week. They now hold their destiny in their own hands, as they have the potential to own 2 tiebreakers against possible playoff teams in Hamilton and Chesapeake. The Hounds have a remaining schedule that includes road games against Ohio and Chesapeake followed by their home finale against the Nationals. If they are able to win out, they will secure the 1st playoff spot in franchise history. If they are to do so, they need to focus on not having the mental errors that have plagued them in recent weeks. Veteran leaders like Matt Danowski need to step up and provide this young roster with the veteran presence to control emotions when things don’t go their way. While the roster is on the young side, they have former NCAA champions (Lusby, Sawyer, Hawkins), NCAA Champion Coaches (Danowski), and several All-Star caliber players to lead them for the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see if they can put it all together before the end of the year.
Charlotte goes on the road to take on the Ohio Machine trying to continue their playoff push while the New York Lizards welcome the Rochester Rattlers to town for their second contest of the year.