Charlotte Hounds coach Mike Cerino isn’t ready to make wholesale changes in the team’s game plan despite getting off to a 1-4 start.
However, Cerino added that it is time to “sound the alarm” for the remainder of the Hounds’ 2014 Major League Lacrosse schedule heading into Saturday night’s rematch against the undefeated Denver Outlaws at Memorial Stadium.
“It was ‘sound the alarm’ time last week when we went to Denver,” in a 13-11 loss to the Outlaws, Cerino said. “Every game is precious with only 14 of them. But it’s too big of a bite to chew; we can’t focus on a playoff opportunity yet.
“While we had a championship (game) appearance last year, I never felt we were one player away from being a championship team. The idea was to stay the course, continue to have a deep draft and build the talent level and depth of the Hounds’ organization.”
Now that the NCAA tournament has finished, Charlotte’s lineup will begin to more closely resemble the one that Cerino envisioned at the start of the season, especially where its class of rookies from the 2014 MLL draft will fit in.
While two of their rookies – faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler and defender Henry Lobb – will miss Saturday’s game because of Senior Week activities at Duke, the Hounds have activated two of their top draft picks: Maryland defender Michael Ehrhardt, their first-round pick, and his Terrapins teammate Mike Chanenchuk, a midfielder taken in the second round.
Several rookies – Loyola teammates Justin Ward and Pat Laconi, and Towson’s Tom DeNapoli – are already seeing playing time for Charlotte, and All-MLL attacker Matt Danowski and goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman are back in the lineup full-time after missing games for college coaching commitments.
That group practiced and played together for the first time last week; the result was the Hounds’ closest-ever regular-season game against the Outlaws, who had outscored Charlotte 80-46 in their four previous games.
All that, one noted lacrosse expert said, could lead to the same kind of second-half run that saw Charlotte make the MLL playoffs last season, and even pull off a semifinal upset of then-undefeated Denver.
“The schedule makes it tough for them, when you look at some of their key players not being around at the start of the season,” said John Jiloty, editor-in-chief of Inside Lacrosse magazine. “It’s almost like two seasons for them – before and after May.
“Potentially, they’ve got some young guys who can come in and add some youthful enthusiasm, which can only help them.”
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