Rochester Rattlers (6-3) at Charlotte Hounds (4-5)
7 p.m., American Legion Memorial Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
The Game: The Rattlers and the Hounds both face a “must win” game Saturday night in the final Major League Lacrosse game before going on a two-week break for the upcoming FIL World Championships in Denver.
Rochester has won two straight games, and thanks to the Boston Cannons’ win over the Denver Outlaws on Friday night, now sits just one-half game behind the Outlaws. A win over the Hounds would move the Rattlers into a tie with Denver atop the MLL standings, with the two teams splitting their home-and-away series.
The Cannons’ win broke a tie with Charlotte for fourth in the MLL standings, putting Boston a half-game ahead. For the Hounds to keep pace and keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ve got to keep their home winning streak (now at four games) going by beating Rochester.
Players To Watch
Rattlers – Jordan Wolf: The rookie attacker has come on strong for Rochester since joining the team last month. Wolf, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 MLL Draft, has nine goals and seven assists in three games.
Hounds – John Haus: The second-year midfielder has become one of Charlotte’s most improved players this season. After scoring just three goals in eight games as a rookie last season, Haus has 15 goals – tying with Mike Sawyer for the team lead – in eight games, and has scored three goals in three of the last four games.
Outlook: Rochester is probably the league’s most-improved team, and is coming off an impressive 19-14 victory over Denver last week. However, playing on the road has been a problem for the Rattlers – 1-3 in away games, versus 5-0 at home.
After a rocky 1-4 start, Charlotte has gotten its lineup settled, and with it moved back into playoff contention. The Hounds have won four straight at home, including two big victories – against Denver, ending the Outlaws’ 25-game regular-season winning streak; and last week against Boston, their first against the Cannons in three years.
This one could go down to the wire, and could very well be decided by the faceoff specialists. Rochester’s John Ortolani, who has a 49.3 faceoff percentage this season (130 of 264), will not suit up for Saturday’s game, with little-used midfielder Jim Carroll – who last played in 2012, taking the faceoffs in two games for the Hounds – taking over.
Meanwhile, Charlotte will not have veteran Geoff Snider – the top faceoff guy in the indoor National Lacrosse League the last five seasons – in the X after starting him in last week’s win over Boston. Instead, the job will be shared by early-season starter Tim Fallon and rookie Brendan Fowler. Charlotte 16, Rochester 14.