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Lizards fighting for home playoff game

Rob Pannell of the New York Lizards controls

Rob Pannell of the New York Lizards controls the ball behind the net against Joe Cinosky of the Florida Launch during their Major League Lacrosse game at Shuart Stadium on July 3, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Lizards have already secured a berth in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs, but they still have much to play for in their final two games.

New York trails Denver by one game for second place, with the top two teams in the league hosting a playoff game. The Lizards will play at Charlotte on Friday before hosting Denver to close out the regular season on Aug. 9.

The Lizards (7-5) missed a chance to tie Denver for the second spot after relinquishing a four-goal lead in their 12-11 loss to Chesapeake on Sunday.

"We have to play with more heart [and] more emotion," said Lizards coach Joe Spallina after Sunday's game. "I thought we played really flat and it's something that will have to get better."

"It's just a matter of looking in the mirror and coming back out [against Charlotte]," said goalie Drew Adams. "It's just about refocusing. We're fighting for a seed now."

Hosting a playoff game at Hofstra would be significant for the Lizards, who are 5-1 at home this season and 5-0 at Shuart Stadium (their one home loss came at Stony Brook).

A strong home-field advantage is not unique to the Lizards, as home teams in MLL are 34-14 this season a 70.8 winning percentage). Since 2012, when the league expanded to eight teams, home teams have gone 96-64 in the regular season (a 60-percent win rate). During the same span, home teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have won 59, 53, 60 and 55 percent of their games, respectively).

While the Lizards had their four-game win streak snapped last Sunday, this Friday's game against Charlotte gives them a chance to right the ship. The Hounds (4-8) are tied for last place and have a league-worst minus-21 goal differential.

The matchup looks to be an especially promising one for the Lizards' defense, which has conceded the third-fewest goals per game in the league this season (12.1). Charlotte is second to last in goals scored (10.9 per game), and also ranks second from the bottom in both shooting percentage and shot on goal percentage.

The Lizards also should have the advantage from the faceoff circle, where Greg Gurenlian leads the league with a 60.2 faceoff percentage. Charlotte is seventh in the league at 46.3 percent.

The Hounds, losers of three straight games and four out of their last five, fell to the Lizards, 14-12, in their first matchup this season on June 21.

New York Sports