The Georgia Swarm and the rest of the NLL released their 2019-20 regular season schedules today, revealing the most coveted and anticipated news of the offseason.
An extra twist has been thrown into the 18 games from November to April as the Swarm are part of the now-four-team East Division, creating some instant and dramatic rivalries between them, New England, New York, and Philadelphia.
It’s a lot of information to go over at once, but these first impressions are here to help break down the Swarm’s schedule and highlight some of its interesting components:
- This is probably the Swarm’s friendliest schedule of the last few years. The team has only two doubleheader weekends, and both are followed with a bye week.
- Those two doubleheaders are both away and home, and the back ends of both weekends end on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena. If you have to have a doubleheader weekend, it’s always better to finish it in your own barn.
- The most grueling stretch of games runs from March 20 to April 19 – six games in five weeks. That’s a welcome respite from the 2018-19 season when the Swarm had 10 games across eight weeks to kick off the new year.
- Bye weeks are fickle; no one really likes them. This season, the Swarm once again have six, three of which are peppered throughout the beginning of the schedule.
- But there are good bye weeks, which afford you the time to step back if things are going south or guys are banged up, and bad ones, which tend to come when a team is on a win streak. Having two of the Swarm’s six bye weeks come after doubleheaders is a good thing.
- The Colorado Mammoth (Dec. 28) and Calgary Roughnecks (Feb. 22) return to Sting City. It’s a small sample size, but the Swarm have played the two West Division teams better at home than in the Mammoth and Riggers’ respective barns.
- It was nice to welcome Vancouver and San Diego to Atlanta to serve them some southern hospitality last season, but I’m sure the Swarm men aren’t complaining that they’ll get to visit two beautiful west coast cities and their respective arenas.
- The new divisional change is big for the NLL and creates some instant rivalries, as the East and North divisions will play their divisional opponents three times each.
- It was important to the NLL, though, to make sure each team played every other team at least once this upcoming season. It’s nice to size up against every team at least once before the playoffs.
- The Swarm will kick off the season against the new-look Rochester Knighthawks. They will tango with the expansion New York Riptide three times. Then the new market Halifax Thunderbirds cap the regular season. That’s a lot of “new” for the men in blue and yellow.
- Oh hey, a trip to Toon Town to take on the Rush in March. It should only be slightly below freezing at that time of year.
- Clarification time: I know I said this was the friendliest Swarm schedule of the last few years, but that only refers to travel ease, having just three Friday games (there were seven last season), two doubleheaders instead of three, and bye weeks at good times.
- That ties into a few lacrosse experts extolling the Swarm’s new division, saying Georgia has the easiest path to finish first out of any team. And while I understand where that belief is coming from, I’d counter with a few points:
- These are pro NLL teams. The league is growing, but 13 teams still means they’ll all be choked with talented players. You can’t take any nights off.
- Take one off, and you could end up dropping a regular season finale to the Philadelphia Wings 19-14 and handing them their fourth win of the season.
- Where expansion teams are concerned, the San Diego Seals went 10-8 in their first year of existence. And sure, it’s a different sport, but the Vegas Golden Knights had a pretty memorable inaugural season.
- These are pro NLL teams. Don’t take them seriously, and that’s how you find yourself looking up the standings, not the other way around.
- Single game tickets for the Swarm will go on sale soon, but fans can become Sting City Members and join the most exclusive lacrosse club in the south.
- The schedule’s out, so there’s no excuse not to see Atlanta’s best kept secret in person. Trust me, it’s the best way to experience box lacrosse, and I promise you’ll be instantly hooked.
We’re one step closer to the 2019-20 season. The 2019 NLL Entry Draft will be on Sept. 17, and fans can watch the event for free on B/R Live.