The Charlotte Hounds met the New York Lizards Saturday afternoon on ESPN2 in a matchup that held future playoff implications. Despite some last second drama, the Hounds were able to hang on for a 13-11 victory, all but ending any hope of a playoff berth for the 3-8 Lizards.
In the first, the Hounds high powered offense got off to a hot start netting the first two points of the game off the sticks of Pete Poillon and Mike Sawyer. Sawyer, who broke the world record for the fastest lacrosse shot last weekend at 114 MPH, continues to be the hot hand, scoring one goal along with an assist for Charlotte in their first game since the All-Star break.
After the first quarter finished with a 5-2 advantage in favor of the Hounds, Charlotte’s potent scoring unit rattled off seven points in the second including a two-point snipe from veteran midfielder Pete Poillon. Poillon scored three points in period number two, including a righty dangle with just 20 seconds remaining in the half to give the Hounds an eight goal lead headed into the midway point of the contest. Poillon would finish the day with four points, collecting player of the game honors for his performance.
While traditionally in lacrosse faceoff wins translate into offensive opportunities, the efforts of Lizards’ faceoff specialist Greg Gurenlian went unnoticed in the first half. Gurenlian, who leads the league in faceoff percentage, won 16 of 22 draws taken in the loss.
New York’s defense was able to tighten up significantly during the third quarter. Goaltender Drew Adams stood on his head in an effort to give the Lizard’s offense a fighting chance. Adams, a 2013 All-Star, had 18 saves in the game.
With 11:04 remaining in the third, Steve Mock’s nifty finish ended a fifteen minute scoring drought for New York. The goal was one of only three scored in the period.
While the quarter didn’t provide many offensive sparks, things got chippy when Charlotte attackman Matt Danowski delivered a hit on Lizard defender Brian Karalunas. After a brief scuffle, each player was assessed a two minute penalty for their involvement in the altercation. Shortly after, former Notre Dame standout David Earl scored with three seconds remaining in the period, reducing the Hounds’ lead to seven.
Riding the momentum from a well-played third quarter, the Lizards started the fourth with a bang as Steven Waldeck scored a two-pointer to bring New York back within five. The Hounds’ responded with a goal by first-year midfielder Jake Tripucka, but rookie of the year candidate Rob Pannell scored back to back goals, cutting New York’s deficit to five. A two-point bomb off the crosse of Max Seibald with 4:03 remaining in regulation would bring the Lizards back within two.
Charlotte’s defense remained tenacious throughout the comeback, and while at times their aggressive play resulted in man-up opportunities for their opponent, the Hounds’ defenders fought off a last-second scoring attempt securing the victory.
Next Saturday Charlotte, now 5-6, will travel to Ohio to take on the Machine at 7 P.M on ESPN3. Now playing for their playoff lives, the Lizards return home Saturday to take on in state rival Rochester. That game can be seen on CBS Sports network at 6:30 P.M.