In their final game of the 2018-19 regular season, the Georgia Swarm (12-6) fell to the Philadelphia Wings (4-14) 19-14 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday. 8,735 fans watched the Swarm try and come back in the fourth quarter, but the lead was too large for the home team to overcome.
“I don’t want to say we underestimated them because we know that every team in this league is capable of winning on any night, but I don’t think we were ready to play,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We gave them some easy goals. Kevin (Orleman) getting the start tonight, we didn’t really support him enough defensively. Offensively, I thought we moved the ball, but we didn’t capitalize on our chances.”
The Swarm loss and Buffalo Bandits win against the New England Black Wolves tonight means the Swarm have secured the second seed in the East Division. They will host the Toronto Rock in the East Division Semifinals presented by Reeves Youngon May 6 at Infinite Energy Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Tickets for the East Division Semifinals are on sale now at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Playoffs. Ticket packages include two-game and four-game playoff packs and are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
The National Lacrosse League (NLL), Swarm and Wings teamed up for a special “Back The Braid” celebration. Players on both teams wore “Back The Braid” t-shirts designed by Lyle Thompson during pregame warmups and a special pregame ceremony between the two clubs.
A portion of the proceeds from the “Back The Braid” t-shirts sales benefited Right To Play, the NLL’s official charity which assists native youth in participating and growing in lacrosse.
Holden Cattoni put the Swarm on the scoreboard first, but the Wings went on a six-goal run started by former Swarm forward Jordan Hall and ended by former Swarm forward and now Wings captain Kiel Matisz. The Swarm tacked on two goals at the end of the first quarter, but the goalies swapped nets with the Wings up 6-3.
The Swarm put themselves back within one goal to start the second quarter off, but the Wings started to peel away. After trading goals, the Wings capped the quarter with another three-goal run, and halftime came with the Wings up 12-7.
The Swarm were unable to get momentum in the third quarter as a Shayne Jackson goal was waived on a coach’s challenge from the Wings bench. Josh Currier widened the visiting team’s lead to six goals, Jackson netted a power play goal, then the Wings added two more to their total. Zed Williams found the back of the net off an assist from Lyle Thompson, but Matt Rambo and Matisz had the final say, finishing the quarter with the Wings up 17-9.
The Swarm rattled off four-straight goals – all from Jordan MacIntosh and Bryan Cole – in the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. They outscored the Wings 5-2 in the final 15 minutes, but it was too little too late and the Wings earned their first road win of the season, 19-14.
“I said to the guys before the game, ‘They’re playing their championship tonight,’” Comeau said. “This was their last game of the season; they wanted to end on a win. We knew they were going to come full-out. Credit to them; I thought they outplayed us in every facet of the game.”
Lyle (1G, 4A) and Cole (3G, 2A) led the team with five points apiece. Jackson (1G, 3A), Staats (3G, 1A) and Williams (1G, 3A) all finished with four points.
Orleman played for 42:06 min., making 24 saves on 38 SOG. Craig Wende played in his first NLL game ever. Across 17:54 min., Wende made 8 saves on 13 SOG.
“Wende’s been battling a long, long time to get in this league,” MacIntosh said, “and obviously with expansion and everything, I think he’s going to get a chance. He’s a pain in the butt to score on in practice, so I was so happy to see him get in there. I wish we could’ve played a little better in front of him to get some more stops, but I thought he did great in there. He’s an awesome teammate, so it’s good to see.”
For the Wings, Currier (3G, 3A), Matisz (3G, 3A) and Rambo (2G, 4A) all posted six points. Gowah Abrams made 41 saves on 55 SOG, finishing the night with a .745 SV%.
The Swarm will now take a bye week before the East Division Semifinals and will spend it reflecting on their recent play and how to right the ship before May 6.
“Some people will say it’s not great to have a bye week going into playoffs, but I think for us, based on the last two games, it will be nice to watch ourselves, make those adjustments and really dial them in at practice next week,” MacIntosh said.
“We’re coming up to win-or-go-home games,” Comeau said. “We’re going to have some good practice sessions and watch lots of video and really try to correct some mistakes and look back at what we did really well, try and get back to that. Disappointing to go into the playoffs on a losing note, but that’s in the past, and we’ve got to focus on how we’re going to get ourselves better and get ourselves ready for Toronto.”