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Charlotte Hounds add 2 ex-Major League Lacrosse coaches to staff

Charlotte Hounds head coach Jim Stagnitta
Charlotte Hounds head coach Jim Stagnitta Penn Athletics

The past three seasons, the Charlotte Hounds have been adding talent to the roster, mainly through the collegiate draft.

Now, Hounds’ management have made some more upgrades – this time to the staff.

Team officials will announce Monday that Jim Stagnitta will be Charlotte’s head coach for the 2016 Major League Lacrosse season, with Tony Resch coming on as the lead assistant coach.

Stagnitta, currently the defensive coordinator at Penn, confirmed his and Resch’s hiring in a telephone interview Sunday. He replaces Mike Cerino, who was promoted to the Hounds’ co-general manager slot during the off season.

“It’s been something that’s been on the table for me for a while,” Stagnitta said. “It’s an opportunity to be in a situation that’s similar to what I was in at Denver – where they cared about the building of the team and wanting to do it in the right way.”

Resch, currently head coach of the U.S. indoor lacrosse team, led the now-defunct Philadelphia Barrage to back-to-back MLL championships in 2006-2007. He was named the MLL coach of the year in 2006 and 2008.

Stagnitta has coached primarily at the college level, at Washington and Lee, Rutgers (earning national coach of the year honors in 2003), and Arcadia. But he spent two years as the Denver Outlaws’ head coach, and was named the MLL’s coach of the year in 2013 after guiding the Outlaws to a 14-0 record – the first, and only, undefeated regular season in league history.

However, Denver wound up losing in the semifinals of the MLL playoffs to the Hounds, who squeaked into the playoffs with a 7-7 finish in the regular season.

Since then, Charlotte has struggled to field a winning team, finishing last in the league standings the past two seasons. The Hounds went 4-10 in 2014 and 3-11 last year.

“We took this off season to make some internal changes,” said former general manager Wade Leaphart, now chief revenue officer for the Hounds and United Soccer League franchise Charlotte Independence.

“At the end of last year, we committed to breaking the mold and doing things different. Training camp will have a whole different vibe.”

Charlotte has five players back from that 2013 team – defenders Ryan Flanagan and Brett Schmidt, midfielders Kevin Drew and John Haus, and attacker Mike Sawyer.

The rest of the Hounds’ roster has been built mostly from the collegiate draft over the past several years, led by 2015 MLL rookie of the year Joey Sankey and Brendan Fowler, who was second in the league in faceoffs won (208 of 411) last year.

Charlotte’s management also worked trades last year that added veteran attackers Kevin Cunningham and Garrett Thul, and midfielders Kevin Crowley and Terry Kimener to the roster.

“These things certainly don’t happen overnight, but there’s a nice mix of youth and experience,” Stagnitta said. “Compared to that team I ran into a couple years back, there’s a little bit more depth. Coming into camp, there’s going to be a high level of competition going forward.”