The Charlotte Hounds lit up the sky with a fireworks show after its game against the Rochester Rattlers.
Yet it was the Rattlers who lit up the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, as the Hounds saw their four-game home winning streak end with a 15-13 loss.
Mike Sawyer scored three goals, including a two-pointer, and rookie Justin Ward added a season-best three goals for Charlotte (4-6), which fought back from a 10-5 deficit to challenge Rochester (7-3) in the second half.
Three players – Justin Turri and rookies Mark Cockerton and Jordan Wolf – had three goals for the Rattlers. Goalkeeper John Galloway finished with 17 saves, 10 in the first half.
“We never really got a good offensive rhythm (in the first half) and we struggled in the faceoff at times,” Hounds coach Mike Cerino said. “We did a better job in the second half, and it showed on the scoreboard. We just dug ourselves too deep of a hole in that first half.”
Rochester won despite losing the faceoff battle – Charlotte faceoff specialists Tim Fallon and rookie Brendan Fowler went 6-of-10 in the half, and 17 of 13 for the game – and the Hounds’ defense forced the Rattlers into nine turnovers in the first half and 15 in the second.
However, Charlotte’s defense also left goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman exposed at times, and Rochester made it pay. Ghitelman had four saves in the first half and eight for the game, and the Rattlers scored at least three times after catching him out of the mouth of the goal.
“Adam was just off, and we weren’t tight on their guys,” Hounds defender Ryan Flanagan said. “They’ve got a lot of crafty inside guys, a lot of good finishers, and we just weren’t physical enough.
“In the second half, we started to tighten up a little bit, and Adam played much better.”
The loss also put a speed bump into Charlotte’s hopes of making the Major League Lacrosse playoffs for the second straight year.
With four games remaining, the Hounds dropped into a tie for fifth place with the Florida Launch and Ohio Machine. Rochester moved into a tie for first place with the Denver Outlaws.
“It doesn’t help our playoff hopes,” said Charlotte attacker Matt Danowski, who scored twice in the fourth quarter to key the Hounds’ comeback.
“But like we’ve said since the start of the season, we’ve got to take this one game at a time. A lot of stuff can still happen. We might not control our own destiny right now, but we control how we play each week. That’s all we can ask for.”
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