First losses of the season have a fun way of hurting more than most losses, fresh reminders that oh yeah, we’re not going to go undefeated. Bye weeks certainly don’t help as now everyone has an extra week to stew on what went wrong.
Fortunately for the Swarm, it’s just one loss, and their next foe – the Buffalo Bandits – are themselves coming off a rough home loss and a bye week to open the New Year. It’ll be a game of redemption for both squads and a chance at a fresh start as the page flips to 2020.
Oh yeah, Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s kick it off with a Swarm Mailbag. As always, please note all opinions here are my own unless specified otherwise.
Cherie T. from Lawrenceville, GA
How did the guys handle the loss last Saturday? It was a good game, but they looked like they struggled in the fourth quarter.
You don’t get to be a professional athlete without a healthy measure of drive and desire to win, and the Swarm roster is filled with guys that want to and know they can win every game they play in. So after the loss, you would expect them to be dejected and upset they didn’t win a game in which they entered the final 15 minutes with a lead, and the Swarm were.
The rookies weren’t happy with their first NLL loss, and no one I spoke with after the game seemed pleased with their performance. But Swarm head coach Ed Comeau has always had the mantra of celebrating the wins for 24 hours and getting over the losses in 24 hours (paraphrased a bit). The Swarm men will have to move past the sting of losing as quickly as they can, but they still need to focus on what they did wrong against the Mammoth and how they can be better when they next take the floor on Jan. 11.
As for struggles in the fourth quarter as you pointed out Cherie, yes, they certainly ran out of gas in the final frame. Jordan MacIntosh said as much, noting that the 5-on-3 penalty kill was the tipping point for the team. They were tied up heading into the final 10 minutes, and the two penalties created one of the toughest defensive situations in the sport. The Swarm only allowed one power play goal against, but it was also the game-winner, and nothing they could do in the offensive end could make it past Dillon Ward.
John P. from Decatur, GA
Is it me, or is scoring down across the NLL during the first 5 weeks of the season? Go Swarm!
It is. Teams are averaging 10.48 GF/GAME, meaning just shy of 21 goals are being recorded in a game by both teams.
I took a look at roughly the same point in the season last year, after the Jan. 12 weekend. 42 games had been played, and 495 goals had been scored in the NLL (11.79 GF/GAME). That’s two extra games compared to this point in the season, but it’s also 76 more goals, nearly three more goals in a game compared to this season.
If I had to hazard a guess as to why, there are three reasons I can come up with.
The first is goalies and defenses are playing out of their mind. 11 different goaltenders have played more than 100 min. this season, and only three of them have GAA’s above 10 – Alex Buque with the Riptide (13.94), Frank Scigliano with the Seals (13.29 GAA), and Eric Penney with the Warriors (10.84 GAA). Most years, a 10.84 GAA can make you a Goaltender of the Year candidate.
The second reason is there are some notable offensive absences across the league, particularly in the West Division. Dane Dobbie and Jesse King are out for the Roughnecks for different reasons, the Mammoth are missing Eli McLaughlin, the Seals are without Austin Staats and Casey Jackson, the Warriors have Joel McCready out. Those defenses out west are phenomenal, but that division as a whole is posting a league-low 9.88 GF/GAME. Not hanging all of the NLL’s low-scoring offenses on those players, but it is worth noting they’re missing some talented weapons.
Finally, and it isn’t fun to say, but expansion teams this season are playing like expansion teams are expected to in their first campaigns. The Seals were the exception and not the rule in their inaugural year and have regressed dramatically this season. New York and Rochester are both winless and have been outscored by a combined 44 goals across seven games.
We’ll probably see an uptick in scoring production as the season continues, but right now, we have enough of a sample size to say yes, scoring across the league is down at this point.
Debbie L. from Cartersville, GA
I keep hearing about how the outdoor lacrosse game (which my son plays) doesn’t always transfer to the indoor game. What are the key traits of those who do make the transition well, and what should my son work on if he wants to play box in the future?
I spoke with John Ranagan about this two seasons ago before Matt Dunn joined the Swarm and what Dunn would need to do to be successful. In it, Ranagan noted that Jason Noble’s success is in part due to his footwork, while Dunn pointed out he saw Ranagan’s hands get better from summer to summer after playing box.
Following up with Dunn after his first season of box, he noted how his communication skills had to be different in box. Players have to be able to communicate quickly in both games, but the different environment changed how Dunn relayed info while playing box. The Towson, Maryland native also commented on how much more he got to touch the ball compared to field, and his stick skills increased as the season progressed, as did his confidence in them.
Being smart and a quick-thinker will help a lacrosse player no matter which game they play, and if they can communicate quickly and effectively, even better. But footwork and stick skills are what I would say are the key traits for transitioning from field to box.
Also, be a good, unselfish teammate and super coachable.
The Swarm return to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, Jan. 11 to take on the Buffalo Bandits. Face-off is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Swarm are celebrating Lacrosse Out Cancer Night and will wear special purple uniforms, signifying early detection and the fight against all forms of cancer. Each jersey bears the names of those affected by cancer on the back, and the game-worn uniforms will be signed and auctioned off following the game’s conclusion, with proceeds benefiting the Rally Foundation. Tickets are available by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/LaxOutCancer or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
Fans in the Metro Atlanta area can also catch the game live on Atlanta’s CW69 or over the radio on the Atlanta Sports X 1230AM/106.3FM.