By Thomas Livingston | 6/20/14 11:45 AM
Charlotte Hounds at New York Lizards
Saturday, June 21 – 7:00 p.m. (ET) – James H. Shuart Stadium, Hempstead, NY
The New York Lizards (3-4) hope to keep their perfect home record intact against the surging Charlotte Hounds (4-3).
Last Time Out:
Charlotte: The Hounds beat the Florida Launch (4-3) 14-13, for their second consecutive victory. Hounds leading scorer Mike Sawyer earned the Coca-Cola Player of the Game honors with three goals including a 2pt score with one second remaining on the clock in the 3rd quarter. The Hounds were outscored in the 4th quarter 4-1, but were able to carry the momentum from Sawyer’s offensive production to hold off the Launch. MLL All-Stars Ryan Flanagan and Brett Schmidt anchored the defensive unit. Flanagan collected a season-high nine groundballs and Goalie Adam Ghitelman made key saves in the waning seconds of the contest to secure the victory.
New York: The Lizards fell to the first-place Denver Outlaws (6-1), 16-11, at Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO. The game was not as close as the score indicates, as the Outlaws led 16-5 in the 4th quarter, before the Lizards scored the final six goals of the evening. In the losing effort, six different Lizards netted goals. They were led by All-Star Rob Pannell’s four scores and two assists. Lizards Goalie Drew Adams struggled before being pulled after the 3rd quarter; he ended the day with thirteen goals against and just seven saves.
Home Sweet Home: The New York Lizards are a perfect 2-0 when playing at home this season in Shuart Stadium; they are one of two MLL teams with unblemished home records. All four of their losses have come on the road. The Lizards have won more faceoffs, collected more groundballs, and had more shots than their opponents in both home wins at Shuart Stadium. The Hounds have yet to win a game as the visiting team this season; they have lost all three of their road match-ups.
Rookie Magic: The pack of Hounds rookies have had little to no learning curve adjusting to MLL play. Justin Ward and Mike Chanechuk have a collective 18 points in their combined five games played. Thomas DeNapoli and Pat Laconi are key contributors at midfield and Henry Lobb and Michael Ehrhardt have played great minutes at defense. The Hounds’ success rests on the shoulders of their most inexperienced players, but the rookies have risen to the challenge and exceeded all expectations in recent weeks.
Broken Walls: The Lizards Drew Adams and Hounds Adam Ghitelman rank near the bottom of the MLL in Goalie statistics. Drew, a member of Team USA, has the second highest GAA (11.96) and the lowest Save Percentage (.503) of any starting keeper. Adams has also given up five 2pt goals, the most in the MLL this season. Ghitelman owns the worst GAA (13.29) and is barely ahead of Drew with a .509 Save Percentage. With these struggling backstops, the game should feature plenty of crowd-pleasing scoring on Saturday evening.
Players to Watch:
New York: Ned Crotty, A. Crotty was held pointless for the first time this season last week vs. Denver. A member of Team USA, Crotty is third on the Lizards in scoring with nine goals and four assists, averaging over two points a game. The Lizards will need him to find the back of the net and support fellow Team USA member Rob Pannell at attack in order to beat the visiting Hounds.
Charlotte: Matt Danowski, A. The Hounds Captain and Veteran leader has six points in the last two games. He is one goal shy of reaching the 150-career goal mark. He proved himself as a dual-threat with two assists last week as well. The MLL All-Star is the Hounds offensive leader and when he is playing well the Hounds chances ofwinning significantly increase.
New York: Rob Pannell leads the Lizards in both goals (15) and assists (10). The 2013 Cascade MLL Rookie of the Year and member of Team USA is the quarterback of the Lizards offense.
Charlotte: Mike Sawyer 11 goals leads the Hounds in scoring this season. The North Carolina native holds the MLL Fastest Shot record at 114mph and scored his first-career 2pt goal last week vs. Denver.
2013 Season Series:
The Hounds beat the Lizards in both 2013 match-ups, 14-12 and 13-11, to sweep the series. The Lizards last victory over the Hounds came on July 28, 2012, 13-9 in Hempstead, NY.
· Ryan Young has scored a point in 24 consecutive games for the Hounds.
· The Lizards have ten players in the 2014 MLL All-Star Game, the largest representation of any MLL team.
· Hounds Rookie Justin Ward is 8th in the MLL with nine assists, despite playing in only three games this season. Ward made his MLL debut Week 5.
New York fans, support one of your ten All-Stars by getting this Rob Pannell shirt from the MLL Shop before heading to the game on Saturday. It's available in both adult and youth sizes. Get yours here or by clicking the image to the right.
And don't forget the MLL All-star Game featuring Team MLL taking on Team USA is less than a week away on Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Historic Harvard Stadium. Tickets for the event can be found HERE.