The Charlotte Hounds put together a spectacular performance in their sophomore season, heading to Championship Weekend and advancing to the finals, both are firsts for this team in their short history.
While the road to the playoffs was not easy for the Hounds, they still worked through difficult losing streaks to earn a spot at Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink. Charlotte finished out the season at 7-7, clinching the number four seed and sneaking into the playoffs. What few people expected was the major upset in the semi-finals as the Hounds came out victorious in a 17-14 win over the Denver Outlaws.
The Outlaws 14-0 season was the best in MLL history, but it took one game and a spectacular first quarter from the Charlotte Hounds to send Denver packing, and give the Hounds a ticket to the Championship game against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. In the end they were outplayed by the Bayhawks who held them to only 9 goals in the game. It may not have been a Championship title, but most would say this was a very successful season for such a young team, with seven rookies.
The Hounds opened up the season with a tough 21-8 loss to the Denver Outlaws, which MLL teams would quickly learn, was the team to beat. The Hounds returned to action in week two to grab their first win, a 15-8 win over the Rochester Rattlers, a promising sign for the 2013 season, as Peet Poillon grabbed five points including a couple of two pointers. This was just a glimpse of what these Hounds could do, but after falling to a record of 1-3 the Hounds struggled to climb back to a winning record and would spend much of the season trying to rise above .500.
It was in week 12, against the Hamilton Nationals that the Hounds clinched a playoff spot and rose above .500 for the first time in club history. In a final game against the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the Hounds lost, but rest at 7-7, an improvement from last season’s sixth place, 5-9 record.
The Hounds were a young team this season, but leaders like Matt Danowski and Ryan Flanagan rounded off the fresh talent and gave the team direction. Danowski and Flanagan each were in their second season with the Hounds. Flanagan led the charge on defense, helping alongside rookie, Mason Poli. Poli would go on to score 11 points, tying Brodie Merrill for the most points by a defensive player.
Danowski earned a spot amongst the top scorers in the League at number four, earning the Hounds 49points. Charlotte, with 178 goals for, would tie the Boston Cannons for third place in the League.
The Hounds are undoubtedly the underdog story of 2013, and the team to watch in 2014 as these young players mature and continue to produce a dominant offense.