Game Previews

HIVE FIVE: Swarm vs. Wings

5 Quick Stings for the Swarm's regular season finale

And just as quickly as the 2018-19 NLL season began, so does the regular season now come to a close for the Georgia Swarm. This Saturday marks their 18th and final game of the regular season, and it’ll be against the Philadelphia Wings.

It’s been quite some time since the Swarm and Wings met, the first-ever meeting between the two taking place on Jan. 12. The Swarm used a strong first half to outlast the home team, leaving the City of Brotherly Love with a 13-11 win. Since that game oh so long ago, the two East Division rivals have gone in…

COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS

On March 15, the Georgia Swarm punched their ticket back to the NLL postseason with a 15-14 win against the Rochester Knighthawks, their 10th win of the season. The next night, the Philadelphia Wings lost 13-11 to the San Diego Seals to put their record at 2-10. The Wings weren’t officially eliminated until April 6 with the loss to the Calgary Roughnecks.

Even back in January, the Swarm were on the uptick and stayed as one of the top teams in the NLL all season long. The Wings did not have the same luck and struggled to put together full 60-min. performances. Nine of their 14 losses this season were by one or two goals, however, so they have been playing competitive; their first win of the season was by just one goal.

Keeping them close | Photo Credit: Hannah Snyder

Whether they’re wins or losses, it’s important to have a few competitive games throughout a season. It’s good seasoning for a team, especially those that are postseason-bound since those games typically have an extra energy to them that hypes up both sides, similar to a playoff atmosphere. So while last Friday’s results weren’t the best for the Swarm, it was a constructive and…

COMPETITIVE LOSS

The Swarm have won five games and lost three games by one or two goals this season. But ever since March began, they really haven’t experienced close games, especially ones where the Swarm have had to battle back.

They did have a close one on March 15 against the Knighthawks, a 15-14 win. But the Swarm nearly squandered a 12-7 halftime lead in that game. While the final 30 minutes were certainly competitive, it was more from the Swarm letting things get too close, not necessarily them trading blows with the home team.

And that’s why last Friday’s loss can be viewed as a good thing. The Roughnecks at one point led the Swarm by three goals, but it was only for 28 seconds. The two teams went back and forth all night, and ultimately, the home team was crowned the victor.

The offense put up 13 goals despite not having Randy Staats in the lineup. Defensively, the Swarm made the necessary adjustments to hold the Roughnecks to only four second-half goals after having 10 put up against them in the first half. And after Mike Poulin left injured late in the second quarter, it was great to see Kevin Orleman replace him between the pipes and…

STAND TALL

The best way for goaltenders to get better is to have actual playing experience, and heading into the postseason, the Swarm need Orleman to get as much experience as he can get his hands on.

Seeing how he performed in the second half of the Calgary game has to be pleasing for the Swarm coaches. After a rocky first 2:39 min. in which Orleman allowed a goal on four shots, the Kitchener, Ontario native settled down with the Swarm defense in the second half, holding the home team to just four goals on 22 shots. A second half of .818 SV% goaltending is a great sign of what Orleman can do with the Swarm defense.

It’s all a learning experience, sometimes unfortunately | Photo Credit: Candice Ward/Calgary Roughnecks

It’s unclear at this time whether Poulin or Orleman will face the Wings for the final time in the 2018-19 season, but if Orleman stands between the pipes on Saturday, he’ll get take on one of the best shooters in the NLL this weekend, one…

KEVIN CROWLEY

The New Westminster, British Columbia native is one of the most prolific shooters around. Last season, he led the league with 51 goals, and this season, he leads the Philly squad with his 33 goals in 14 games.

Part of the reason for Crowley’s success is he takes plenty of shots, averaging just under 18 per game. That’s roughly two more per game than he shot during his 51-goal season last year. However, that shooting percentage has gone the other way. After a .176 S% in 2017-18, Crowley is netting the ball at a .133 S% clip.

In his first game back in a Wings uniform, Crowley actually took on the Swarm. He shot in two goals and handed out two assists that night, but that was on 23 shots, 13 of which were on goal – an .087 S% and .565 SOG%. The Swarm defense did a great job of forcing low-quality shots from the eight-year veteran, and they’ll be looking to do the same Saturday night.

But before the game, their will be a joint celebration as the NLL, Swarm and Wings all…

BACK THE BRAID

The NLL partnered with the Swarm and Wings for the regular season finale for the “Back The Braid” celebration. Players on both teams will wear “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 will benefit Right To Play, the NLL’s official charity which assists native youth in participating and growing in lacrosse. This celebration is intended to grow awareness of Native peoples and their crucial role in the continued growth and development of their cultural sport of lacrosse.

This show of unity and solidarity is something common in the lacrosse community. After the racial taunts directed at Lyle in January, the Swarm donned special warmup shirts bearing the trademark Thompson Brothers braid on the back of their shirts, and every helmet featured a braid sticker right above the national flags for the U.S., Canada and Haudenosaunee.

It just goes to show that no matter the results on the floor, the lacrosse community will always be there for each other and continue to make progress each and every day, helping spread awareness and love for this great sport we all get to enjoy.

There’s not much of a better way to cap off a regular season.

Georgia Swarm Pro Lacrosse Team