The Charlotte Hounds spoil Rob Pannell's New York Lizard debut in the MLL.
On Friday night the Charlotte Hounds made the early season playoff push a little more interesting with a 14-12 win over the New York Lizards in Hemstead, NY. The win takes the Hounds (2-3) and puts them on an even playing field with the Lizards (2-3) as far as records go, but the loss will be felt for a while for New York. Playing with what seemed to be a full compliment of players New York was unable to close out Charlotte and missed an opportunity to put a little separation in the standings for the all-important 4th playoff spot.
The Hounds :
Charlotte was down 12-9 heading into the 4th quarter, and were able to put together 5 straight goals to secure the win. Ryan Young and Eric Lusby notched hat tricks, while Peet Poillon, Mike Sawyer, and Matt Danowski chipped in 2 goals apiece for the Hounds.
The Lizards :
In the much anticipated debut of 2012 #1 overall pick Rob Pannell, the rookie justified the hype, scoring 4 points on 3 goals and 1 assist for the game. Stephen Peyser added 4 points of his own, and Greg Gurenlian was able to put 2 past Adam Ghitelman off of face-offs for the Lizards.
We talk often about how important early season wins are to an MLL franchise. One only has to look back to last year’s Rattlers team to see how critical the first couple games can be. With that being said, the Lizards have to feel like they let one slip away with this loss. They won both the face-off and ground ball battles, and had a 3 goal lead heading into the 4th and still could not come away with the win in front of the hometown crowd. The part of the loss that might be the most damaging is the fact that now they don’t have the edge in a tiebreaker with Charlotte, should it come down to that by season’s end. Unfortunately for the Lizards, the road doesn’t get any easier from here, as they host the defending champion Bayhawks in another key game early in the week.
Charlotte showed a balanced offensive attack for the first time all season in this win, and that is going to be a key factor heading forward. In training camp Coach Cerino made a point of how important it would be to “steal” victories away from teams, and this win certainly qualifies. The team now not only owns the tiebreaker with New York, but also has the confidence moving forward that they are a force to be reckoned with in the playoff picture in their second season as a franchise. Considering how hyped this Lizards team was in the preseason and the fact that they had their full roster, this might be a turning point for Charlotte. They have a very real chance to reach .500 next weekend, as they host the struggling Ohio Machine on Saturday at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. A win in that game has the chance to do what New York could not: defend home field and get one step closer to the postseason.