Your Georgia Swarm are on a roll, having knocked off the top three teams from 2016. Media members caught up with coaches and players after the exciting victory over the New England Black Wolves last Friday, Jan. 20. Here's what Swarm players and coaches had to say:
#4 Lyle Thompson
Tell me what was working for you guys offensively tonight.
I think right from training camp, the coaches put us on a good track, and we’re buying into a system and playing as a team. Every week, we’re not trying to change anything up; we’re not focused on the other team. We know personnel, we know the habits of the other team, but at the end of the day, it’s about us, and we come out to play and do the same thing we do every day and that’s move the ball, move our feet and make it hard for a defense.
How big can it be to win a physical game like this against a team that gave the Swarm trouble last year?
They’re known to be a physical team. Every single one of their guys plays physical. They like to cross check, put you on – take you off your feet. But for us – it’s like I said, it’s about us. That’s what we’re focusing on. Every game in this league is a big game. This league’s so competitive that we have to go in every week and not get too confident, not get overconfident, but also know what we’re capable of and come to play every week cause every team’s going to give us a game.
You’ve been a great lacrosse player for a long time, but you seem much more composed in this version of box lacrosse.
Yeah, that comes with experience and confidence. Last year, I can honestly say I wasn’t the most confident player coming in as a rookie, and I think that’s a common problem for a rookie. But as the season went on, coaches, teammates, those are the guys who give you confidence. Coming into this year, playing with a group I played with last year, getting more comfortable, getting more confident, I think that’s something that’s really helped me.
What’s it do for you having the defense step up like they did this game?
It makes us more comfortable, helps us play more free, and I think vice versa. We go out there, we run, we set the tempo and the defense is going to play off of us. It can go both ways like today. Today I think it started off kind of slow as far as scoring. I think we were getting our opportunities, but defense was stepping up on their end. We said our goals were going to come, we’re getting good shots, keep taking them, eventually they’ll fall.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
#31 john ranagan
Tell me about the attitude the defense has taken on, trying to be more physical this year.
I think that was definitely the game plan. We feed off our goaltender; he’s been phenomenal. So we’re trying to – every single shift, go out there and be as mean and clean is our term, right? Good start so far, but we’ve got a big one next weekend.
What was the key for you tonight?
To be honest with you, it started with our offense. They were sprinting off which got us on. Just started being aggressive. I think the whole team did a great job on Shawn Evans, but in particular, Jason Noble was on him all game. He really neutralized an overly great player in this league. It started with our offense coming on and us just sticking to our game plan which our coaches gave us.
Lot of young players. What are you seeing from those guys as they grow and get used to the speed of the NLL?
We’re a young team. It’s fun, it’s energizing, and we just preach having fun. I think when you’re having fun and you’re working hard, good things are going to happen. So that’s what we’ve been doing.
What’s your role been with this group?
I’m on the draw team a lot, just trying to get as many loose balls as possible, and trying to be a spark plug, be an energy guy, be physical and athletic. That’s basically about it.
If you look at the stat sheet, New England took a lot of shots which could indicate the defense didn’t do a good job, but the reality is hardly any of them were from the inside. Was that a conscious effort by the defense?
That’s credit to our coaches on the game plan. We noticed they were taking a lot of outside shots, so our game plan was to keep them out there, and if we can keep them out there with the goaltender we have, those are high percentage, for us, shots, so we’re going to try to keep doing that.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Head Coach Ed Comeau
What was your reaction to the way the team handled the physicality of tonight’s game?
Everyone straps their pads on when you play lacrosse. It’s a physical game. Some games are more physical than others. I thought we responded well. I thought we played really aggressive. Anytime you play any team in this league, it’s a chance for it to get rough, but I think our guys really responded well and put us in a chance to pull away which we did.
Do you like the attitude from your defense taking on that mean streak this year?
One of the things we talked about this offseason was getting big, not only big and fast. We’ve got big and we’ve got athletic. We want it to be hard to score. We play against a lot of teams where our guys get knocked around out there, so we want to be physical on our end. We always say mean and clean, right? That’s our saying.
What’s Mike been able to do? Is he seeing the ball really well there?
I think he’s really bailed us out there a few times where we’ve had some lops and I always think your best defender is always your goalie, and he’s your best penalty killer. He’s been great for us. He’s seeing the ball well, and I think we’re doing a good job of limiting the quality of shots, and those go hand-in-hand.
What are you seeing from your younger guys, particularly the ones you picked up in the draft?
They’ve stepped in. This is a tough league to step in and make an impact. Each one of them has made an impact in their own way, whether it’s Leo Stouros blocking some shots, Bryan Cole running the floor, Connor Sellars battling for loose balls/playing tough d, Liam Byrnes played his first game tonight and played well. I think we just try to give them their roles and play within their roles, but we’ve been very happy with what they’ve brought to the team.
Pleased with the balance offensively, lot of different guys picking it up?
Yeah, it’s kind of like last year. Everyone’s a threat, and our guys are unselfish; the ball moves and everyone’s a threat to score every possession. I thought they did a pretty good job for us tonight, and I thought their goalie played real well. We were outshooting him pretty big early and then we had a little trouble scoring, and then we got on a run. I thought they played pretty well defensively, especially early.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
#30 mike poulin
Tell me a little bit about tonight, what was working for you between the pipes? Seeing the ball well the key?
It’s just one of those nights were it was such a back-and-forth game to start the night off. It was such a tight game that it was so crucial to be focused early and to be on, and fortunately our guys kept the shots to the outside so I was able to see it. We controlled the rebounds which is huge. I think our team had – I don’t know the stats, but I’m sure we won the loose ball possession game, and it goes a long way for a goalie to see less shots. Again, our defense just made my job a lot easier.
What have you seen from that defensive unit this year?
Positives and negatives. We’re a young group finding our way, but there’s still a lot of experience back there. We’re having good starts. Obviously we’re holding them to – our 1st quarters have been very good. It’s just those five minute runs that we’ve given up. So far, every game – the 1st game was in the 2nd quarter, and then late in the fourth for the last two games – we’ve given up five goal runs, and that’s just something that’s not going to work when you’re in a tighter game. So we’ve got to really pick that up.
The defense was impressive, always in position and ready to help each other. Was that specific for this game or what we can expect from the defense?
Right from camp, we came in with pretty low numbers in terms of bringing guys to fight for jobs because we knew the bodies that we had; we knew the talent. So it was more focused on systems. We came to camp, we worked hard, we focused on our systems. So here we are three games in, and we’re not making the mistakes that teams who are just starting to gel together or – we brought in a lot of new faces – myself and four young draft picks played tonight on defense, so it’s been nice gelling together the whole way. I think that’s really working that we’ve come together as a group.
What’s it like seeing everyone step up in aggressiveness against an aggressive New England team but not going that extra step and getting ejected?
We played tough. We really pushed the line, but we don’t go over it, and I think that’s key all three games. We haven’t taken a lot of penalties because we’re a disciplined team. We play hard. We play clean. We’re not a dirty team, and that drives other teams nuts. That’s why we’ve had so many power plays is because when you play clean, you work hard, you go about your way, other teams might get a little frustrated about it when it’s working for us. As long as we continue to do that, just push the line but not go over it, we’ll be alright.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Fans can catch the game LIVE via NLL.com. Subscriptions can be purchased at tv.nlltv.com. An all-access 2017 season pass costs $34.95 (US) and $39.95 (Canada), while an individual team pass for the year costs $24.95 (US) and $29.95 (Canada).
Georgia returns home to Harrah’s Cherokee Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, Feb. 11 for a rematch against the New England Black Wolves at 7:05 p.m. EST. For only $27, fans can purchase a lower level ticket and Swarm scarf package for Friday’s game. Call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/Scarf for tickets.