If there was a most improved player award in Major League Lacrosse, Charlotte Hounds midfielder John Haus would certainly be in the running for it.
Haus, now in his second year with the Hounds (4-5), has played a big part in the team’s turnaround from a 1-4 start to contending for a playoff berth heading into Saturday’s game against the Rochester Rattlers (6-3) at Memorial Stadium.
“A lot of people have been talking to me about this, and comparing last year to this year and how the numbers have just been blowing up,” said Haus, who graduated from Chapel Hill High.
“Last year, this was new to me, the whole MLL thing, and I had to get adjusted to it. I was also pretty beat up – I had just finished four years at Maryland, four seasons where we went pretty far into the postseason.
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“But this fall and winter and this spring, being off from playing lacrosse, really made me realize how much I still love the game. Getting a chance to get back out there and play again was really refreshing.”
Haus said the biggest change from last year to this season has come from his day job – he’s an assistant coach on the men’s lacrosse team at Dickinson College, an NCAA Division III program in Pennsylvania.
“I had to warm up the goalies every day,” Haus said. “Taking those 200-300 shots every day helped me with my shooting. More than anything, being a coach gave me the opportunity to work out a lot more.
“A lot of the guys going into the workforce in 9-to-5 jobs, it’s hard for them to work out and stay in shape. Here, I not only get to work out every day, but I get to work out with other athletes.”
The results have shown up on the Hounds’ stat sheets.
In eight games, Haus has scored 15 goals – tying him for the team lead with Mike Sawyer – and added three assists, with 10 of his goals coming in the past four games, a run that has seen Charlotte go 3-1.
That includes two milestone wins for the Hounds – over the Denver Outlaws on June 7, ending that team’s 25-game regular-season winning streak; and last week against the Boston Cannons, Charlotte’s first win over the Cannons in six tries.
Compare that to Haus’ rookie season with the Hounds – three goals and two assists over the final eight games, which also coincided with a late-season run that put Charlotte in the MLL playoffs.
“The biggest step has been in (Haus’) confidence,” Hounds coach Mike Cerino said. “He can beat you in so many ways – he’s one of our better defensive midfielders if we’re in trouble, he’s a great ballhandler – his game is so wide-ranging there’s just no one way he does it. It’s almost at the point where we can pencil him in for three goals a night.”