With the Lizards in a back-and-forth game and their chance for a home playoff game on the line, Rob Pannell gave a performance worthy of his reputation as one of the game's emerging stars.
The Smithtown native scored or assisted on New York's final three goals in the span of less than two minutes to break a late tie and lead the visiting Lizards to a 12-11 win over the Charlotte Hounds at American Legion Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The score was tied for the seventh different time with 4:41 remaining in the game when Pannell scored to put the Lizards up, 10-9. He scored again less than a minute later then assisted Michael Kimmel's goal with 2:58 left for a 12-9 lead. Mason Poll scored a two-point goal for Charlotte at the 2:17 mark to cut the lead to one, but New York was able to hold on for the win.
The victory keeps the Lizards (8-5) within a game of the second-place Denver Outlaws. The two teams will meet next Saturday at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium in the regular-season finale. The Lizards will need to win by six goals or more to win the tiebreaker over Denver and finish in second to earn a home MLL playoff game.
The Lizards saw their four-game winning streak snapped against Chesapeake last Sunday, and early on Friday, it looked like their struggles would continue. Charlotte ended the first quarter with a 4-1 lead and led 6-3 late in the second quarter.
In the final 1:43 of the first half, though, a two-point goal from Kyle Hartzell and scores from Tommy Palasek and Ned Crotty saw New York take a 7-6 lead into the break.
Charlotte opened the second half with two unanswered goals to go back on top, before both teams alternated the next three goals to tie the score at nine.
Pannell finished with three goals and an assist, upping his points tally to 51, tied for third in Major League Lacrosse this season. Palasek scored three goals, Kimmel had a goal and three assists, and Greg Gurenlian went 15-for-23 on faceoffs and added two assists for the Lizards.
Matt Danowski scored three goals and added an assist and Pierce Bassett made 20 saves for Charlotte, which dropped to 4-9.?