By Mike Leslie, Sports Anchor/Digital Journalist - email
A fourth quarter rally by the Charlotte Hounds on Saturday night came up just short, as the Rochester Rattlers left American Legion Memorial Stadium with a 15-13 victory to move into first place in the MLL standings at 7-3. With the loss, the Hounds remain in a three-way tie for fifth place with the Ohio Machine and Florida Launch. Rattlers attack Jordan Wolf was named Player of the Game for his three-goal performance, while the Hounds were led by Justin Ward with three goals and an assist.
The Rattlers controlled most of the first half, jumping out to a 1-0 lead as Justin Turri scored off the opening faceoff. The teams then traded goals, including two from the Hounds’ John Haus, before Tom DeNapoli tied the game at 3 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. But the Rattlers scored two more, including the second of the night for Turri, who buried his shot right at the buzzer to give the Rattlers a 5-3 advantage.
Turri’s hot hand continued, as he opened the scoring in the second quarter to push the visitors in front 6-3. Ward finally stopped the run as he muscled his way to the cage to make it a two-goal game again. The teams traded possessions before goalie John Gallaway found Joel White with the outlet pass and White took it to the house to put the Rattlers up 7-4 just 4:45 into the quarter. Mike Sawyer responded with a goal off a pass from Jake Tripucka, but the Rattlers closed the half with three straight tallies, including the second of the night for Wolf, to build a 10-5 lead.
Momentum stayed with the Rattlers in the third, as James Carroll Jr. won the opening faceoff to set up Mark Cockerton for his second goal of the night. The next six minutes went scoreless, but the Hounds finally got the ball moving in transition to set up Sawyer for a 2-point goal that closed the Rattlers lead to four, 11-7. He scored again two minutes later to get the Hounds back in the game. But the Rattlers caught the Hounds out of position after forcing a quick turnover to make it a 12-8 game going into the final quarter.
Less than a minute into fourth-quarter action, Matt Danowski went behind the back on Galloway and Tripucka followed with a goal of his own to make it 12-10 with 13:23 to play. The Rattlers responded with two more tallies, including the third of the night for Wolf, before Danowski net his second of the game to keep the Hounds within reach at 14-11. White tacked on one more for the Rattlers with 1:35 remaining in the game. Ward then put the game on his shoulders, tallying back-to-back goals in the final minute to pull the Hounds within two with just 54 seconds left on the clock. The Hounds got one final possession, but Galloway made the save to seal the 15-13 victory for the Rattlers. Galloway finished the game with 17 saves on 29 shots, while Adam Ghitelman had eight saves on 23 shots.
MLL next week will be on bye so that players can participate in the FIL World Championships, to be held July 10-19 in Denver, Colo. Hounds midfielder Casey Cittadino will be competing as a member of Israel Lacrosse, while faceoff specialist Geoff Snider will represent Team Canada. The Hounds (4-6) will return to action on Saturday, July 19 against the Ohio Machine (4-6). The Machine won the first contest in Charlotte by a score of 15-8. Faceoff is set for 7:00pm at Selby Stadium in Columbus.