Charlotte Hounds coach Mike Cerino knew that his team would have to turn in a solid first quarter to have a chance to beat the Denver Outlaws.
As it turned out, the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, as the Hounds pulled ahead to knock off the previously undefeated Outlaws 18-15 on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Matt Danowski, Ryan Young and John Haus had three goals apiece for Charlotte (2-4), which ended Denver’s Major League Lacrosse-record 25-game regular-season winning streak.
It was long-stick defender Mason Poli’s 2-point goal just 50 seconds into the fourth quarter that put the Hounds ahead to stay, with Charlotte outscoring the Outlaws (5-1) 6-3 over the final period.
“Just having the experience from last week (a 13-11 Hounds loss at Denver) and knowing that we could stick with these guys was the key,” said Charlotte goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman, who had 12 saves Saturday.
“Also, we were playing for our lives a little bit with this game. There’s a lot of teams hovering above us (in the MLL standings). This keeps us alive. We didn’t need to change anything – we just stuck with our game plan.”
With the Outlaws missing several key players – goalkeeper Jesse Schwartzman did not play because of an injury, and No. 2 scorer John Grant Jr. did not make the trip – the Hounds managed to put up their most points since beating Denver 17-15 in last year's MLL playoffs.
“We really had to establish ourselves tonight,” Cerino said. “We played tough when we were at Denver … but the biggest difference was getting to 18 (points) tonight.”
Still, the Outlaws managed to fight back from a 4-1 deficit early in the second quarter and lead three times in Saturday's game, the last at 13-12 on Curtis Dickson's goal just 27 seconds into the fourth quarter.
However, Poli's 2-pointer 23 seconds later put Charlotte back in the lead. The Hounds would add goals by Danowski, Haus, Justin Ward and Jake Tripucka to close out the quarter.
“I had that same feeling last week in the third quarter when we were up by one (point), but we weren’t able to capitalize,” said Poli, who finished with two goals Saturday. “This week, we put a few big ones in there and were able to hold them off at the end.
“This is great – every game is like a playoff game for us now. We’re back in the playoff hunt, so our season isn't over. We’ve got our young guys in here, so hopefully we’ll have the same roster moving forward and can make a run.”
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