Mike Chanenchuk didn’t know what to expect last week from his Major League Lacrosse debut with the Charlotte Hounds.
Yet Chanenchuk exceeded his own expectations, scoring twice in the first half of the Hounds’ 18-15 win over the previously-undefeated Denver Outlaws.
Charlotte (2-4) will try to ride that momentum into Saturday’s game against the Florida Launch (4-2) at Memorial Stadium, with a shot at the team’s first back-to-back wins since the final weeks of the 2013 season.
“I really wasn’t sure what to expect coming down here,” said Chanenchuk, a midfielder taken by the Hounds in the second round of the 2014 draft. “I was just going to see how I did, but I was able to be pretty successful.
“(The win over the Outlaws) was a pretty big confidence boost there, not just for me but for all the guys on the team.”
Chanenchuk joined Charlotte’s lineup a few weeks after wrapping up his senior season with Maryland, which advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division I tournament.
Yet the three-time All-American – twice with the Terrapinsand once with Princeton, where he also earned the Ivy League’s freshman of the year award in 2010 – quickly picked up on the nuances of the MLL game.
Against the Outlaws, Chanenchuk – part of Charlotte’s second offensive line – scored his first goal just 96 seconds into the first quarter, rifling a shot from just inside the 2-point arc past Denver goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano.
Chanenchuk’s second goal came in much the same manner, whistling another long shot into the upper-right corner of the net with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left in the second quarter after catching the Outlaws’ defense out of position on Jake Tripucka’s cross-field pass.
“He’s been that kind of dynamic shooter,” in college, said Hounds coach Mike Cerino. “(Chanenchuk) adds another element to our offense, by stretching the defense a little bit. He’ll have his growing pains in the league, but he’s a complete midfielder who doesn’t have to come off the field.”
Chanenchuk is expected to be a key component from this year’s rookie class for Charlotte, which rode the play of its 2013 rookies over the second half of the season to the MLL playoffs.
“Obviously, those guys were very good,” Chanenchuk said. “They were able to make a run last year with those younger guys. We’re just coming in trying to follow the lead of the veteran players – Matt Danowski, (Adam) Ghitelman, guys like that – who are trying to show us the way.
“If we can come in and do our part, hopefully we can be just as successful down the road.”
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