Returning to the postseason for a fourth-straight season sure is a nice feeling, and it would be forgiven if some started to think this is now par for the course for the Georgia Swarm. But for seven-year defenseman Alex Crepinsek, he knows not to grow complacent with the team’s successes, to enjoy every moment he can.
It’s an important message to pass along, and as one of the Swarm’s reliable defensemen, Crepinsek makes sure the younger Swarm players appreciate the special season and their time together. With expansion looming on the horizon and teams becoming more and more competitive each season, going 12-6 in the NLL will become increasingly harder.
That veteran insight is important, as is the regularly quiet and consistent great defense Crepinsek provides out the back door. The Rochester Institute of Technology alum turned in another reliable defensive season in blue and yellow, finishing with five points (1G, 4A), 76 loose balls and 12 caused turnovers, complemented by just two short trips to the penalty box.
With the Swarm on a bye week before the East Division Semifinals against the Toronto Rock at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Monday, May 6, Crepinsek took some time to look back on the season. He discussed being one of the veterans, offered his view on the Swarm defense, and took a look ahead at the incoming Rock. But first, he had to answer arguably the most important questions about his 2018-19 campaign:
How does it feel to be the only person on the team with a perfect shooting percentage?
It feels great. One is perfect, right? If I’m going to get one shot, you’ve got to hope it goes in. I don’t really get too many opportunities. I close my eyes and fire sometimes there. You’ve just got to hope it goes in. I guess it did, so hey, what the heck.
You just completed your seventh regular season in the NLL. How does it feel to be one of the vets?
I was honestly thinking about that the other day. We’re such a really close team that I don’t think anyone would ever really think of me as an old old guy. We all go out together and hang out together. It’s not like we’re a click-y team where the old guys hang out and the young guys hang out. It’s cool when you take a step back and realize you’ve been in this league for seven years. You see some of the young guys who are in their first and second and third year, and you realize how cool this league is and how fun it is to play with guys for that long and be a part of it for so many years. It’s been fun; it’s been cool.
With the younger guys, what do you try and teach or impart to them when they start off their careers?
I think the thing for me is you just can’t really take any years or any games or any seasons for granted in this league. With the way things are, you can get injured, get moved teams, or whatever it may be. You’ve just got to really try and enjoy the opportunity, especially when we’ve got a group like we do. It’s not every year that you have a team with such success in a year. I had a couple of years with the Swarm there where we didn’t have as much success. These years don’t roll around every season, right? We have to realize – especially rolling into the playoffs here – that it’s not an every year thing that you make the playoffs, and we’ve got a good opportunity at a championship run. We’re still taking it, obviously, one game at a time, but you’ve just got to really step back and make sure you enjoy your time and don’t take it for granted when you’re making the playoffs and getting a chance here.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Considering you’ve been with the Swarm your entire career, it has to be nice making the postseason for four-straight seasons.
Yeah. I still cherish those first few years with the Swarm. Besides my rookie year, we had a tough couple of years there. Since we’ve been to Georgia, we’ve been competitive every year, which has been nice. The league has just become more competitive and spread out as we’ve gone here. It’s been nice and just another great opportunity to try and compete here and see what we can do in the playoffs.
Taking a look at the Swarm defense this year, what have you seen from the group this year?
We’ve had some really great games, and we’ve had some tough games mixed in there, too. I think with our team, our ability to adapt and take a step back and realize where we’ve gone wrong in some certain situations and adjust has been a strong point for us. We’re not a team that gets to practice together every week, so we take a lot of pride in working on our film and conditioning in the gym and things like that, communicating with each other throughout the week leading up to shootaround and the practices when we get them. It’s been nice to see that they let you kind of adjust and work on the fly, and at the same time, really sharpen our principles every week. Even when we do have those bad games, we can rebound and get back to where we need to be.
If we look at the final two Swarm losses, what is the story in your mind about what went on in those games?
Not exactly the ending to the season we would have wanted. Maybe we could have rolled into playoffs with a little more momentum. We got away from some of our principles on the D end and made a few mistakes that ended up costing us in those games. I think the important part is we worked all season to get to a point where those last two games weren’t do-or-die for us. Thankfully, we’re still in a pretty good position here heading into the playoffs, but it’s going to be a tough and competitive matchup versus Toronto.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
How did the ending of the season affect your mindset and prep for the bye week and then Toronto?
We’ll really take a look back and look at those two games. We know we can be a lot better, and we know we’re going to have to be a lot better versus Toronto. They’re going to be very prepared for us. It just kind of reemphasizes how important the preparation is leading up to this game. We’ve just got to make sure we’re doing everything to be ready for everything they’re going to throw at us, watching film. We’re lucky that we’re going to get a couple practices together this weekend. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re prepared and expect them to throw their best game at us. We can work as hard as we can during the week and make sure we’re set to go for that one.
Despite how the season ended, it doesn’t change the fact this is one of the top teams in the NLL. It’s been an impressive run. When you look back at the regular season, how do you see it?
I definitely thought we went on a few really potent stretches of games where we won well together, four, five games in a row. At the same time, we had a couple different times here in the season where we had some let ups. I think that’s just a testament to any team in this league, especially the teams in the playoffs, that we can win on any given night. Even though we have a great record in the NLL and we feel great about that, we worked for it, we know that every team left in the playoffs next week is a good team, and nothing’s going to come easy to us. We’ve still got to compete the way we did throughout the entire season.
This is the first postseason we’ll see where the first two rounds are single-elimination. How do you prep mentally heading into those knowing they could be the end of your season?
You can’t afford to play a bad game or else it’s all over, right? It’s just more emphasis on what we can do to get ready and make sure we’re physically and mentally prepared for everything Toronto’s going to throw at us.
How big is it to have the East Division Semifinals take place in Sting City?
The home game is great. We’re so comfortable in the arena, our home. We’ve had great support. It’ll be better to start hot, get fans behind us there and hopefully show them something great on that Monday. Home floor is always great, especially with the fan support we’ve been getting this year.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Recreational plans for the bye week?
Working and working out, watching film.
Movie or show coming out soon that you’re excited to see?
I don’t know. I’m not much of a superhero guy, so I’m not really into the “Avengers.” I’m just excited for “Game of Thrones” every week.
Least favorite Swarm player to defend in practice?
Lyle because he’s so dang athletic, but Shayne cause he’s real grumpy in practice. If something doesn’t go his way in practice, he’ll try and dirty us, stuff like that, so I’ll say Shayne and Lyle.
Best entertainment event you’ve been to recently?
I saw Mumford and Sons this year, and they were really good. I saw Arcade Fire over the summer, and they were amazing.
Star player in any other sport?
Least favorite exercise?
Favorite cheat day treat?
I like my sweets like ice cream and chocolate. A nice cold can of Pepsi, there’s nothing finer on a hot day.
Best lacrosse memory you have?
Winning the championship a couple of years ago. It was unbelievable, a dream come true. Doing it with that group of guys that we had was the real special thing, all guys we’re going to be friends with forever and close with forever.