With the All-Star break over, the final push for MLL Championship Weekend has begun. The Lizards play their final road game down in North Carolina against a feisty Charlotte squad. Currently sitting at 3-7, New York must run the gambit to reach the postseason. Meanwhile, the Hounds (4-6) are searching for the organizations first ever playoff berth.
The last time these two teams met on Long Island, Charlotte stole a win on the road thanks to the late game heroics of Matt Danowski. That loss sent New York into a tailspin down the MLL standings. They’ve lost five of their last six games. The Hounds, meanwhile, have struggled to string together consistent performances, dropping three of their last five games.
New York is only seventh in the League with 99 goals on the season. Their offense has struggled to create quality chances, overelying on a handful of characters to strike the scoreboard. Rob Pannell (24 points), Tom Palasek (20) and Mark Matthews (17) are the scoring leaders. On the other sideline, offense is a strength of Charlotte. They run the ball more fluidly with outside shooters spreading the defense out for their inside dodgers. Matt Danowski (34 points), Ryan Young (29) and Peet Poillon (25) are the go-to finishers.
Defensively, both squads boast All-Stars in the backfield. New York face-off specialist Greg Gurenlian (.613) is the best in the league at winning the draws. Pacing the unit are Brian Karalunas (22 groundballs) and goaltender Drew Adams (12.34 GAA, .534 sv%). Charlotte’s Brett Schmidt and Ryan Flanagan can make a defensive stop then transition to offense. Tim Fallon (.445) leads the team with 86 ground balls.
Neither team can clinch nor be eliminated from the playoff race. But time is running out as both squads are on the outside looking in to the top four in the standings.