Georgia Swarm Season Preview
Professional lacrosse has been absent since the MLL’s championship game on September 14. That was ages ago. Thankfully, the NLL season rapidly approaches. With three new teams (two if you don’t count Rochester) we are in the midst of unprecedented NLL popularity. This season comes loaded with questions. Will Calgary repeat? Will an American team finally win it all? How will the new franchises perform? With all these questions, it’s time for my NLL franchise previews so fans are informed before opening faceoff on November 29. Last up was Toronto. Now, we head south of the border. Time to check on the Georgia Swarm.
The Swarm entered last season looking to reclaim the title from Saskatchewan. Georgia looked poised to do so by finishing second in the east. Unfortunately, their stingers couldn’t penetrate rock. Toronto upset the Swarm 14-16 at Infinite Energy Center in the first round of last year’s playoffs. While falling short of their preseason goals, Georgia had an impressive season. The Swarm finished 12-6 while dominating at home (7-2 home record). They proved they could win on road trips too (5-4 road record). If you have an above .500 record on the road, you can win championships.
The offensive talent is there for another title run. Georgia is absolutely loaded. The Swarm return Lyle Thompson (43 goals, 62 assists last season), Randy Staats (37 goals, 59 assists last season), and Holden Cattoni (27 goals, 53 assists last season). Georgia’s offense runs through the terrific trio.
Besides them, Georgia’s support forwards, veteran Miles Thompson (23 goals, 20 assists last season) and second year player Brendan Bomberry (7 goals, 10 assists last season), would be stars on lesser teams. You get the point. Georgia’s offense is star stacked. The fact Miles Thompson isn’t a top contributor reveals how elite the offense is. My only worry with Miles is health related. He missed multiple games during the PLL’s inaugural season. Will he be one-hundred percent by opening faceoff? Only time will tell.
With all that talent, one would expect Georgia to roll through the preseason. Wrong! Shockingly, Georgia lost to Halifax (formerly the Rochester Knighthawks) 14-21. I haven’t found highlights, but reports indicate the defense struggled mightily. 14-21 is a football score. You can’t have those and expect to win many games.
Luckily, that was Georgia’s first preseason game. Kinks in the hose are expected. Plus, I don’t know how many veterans played. Lyle Thompson was his usual self. He earned a hat trick. On the bright side, Sergio Perkovic, TJ Comizo, Gunnar Schimoles, and Mikey Herring got their first taste of NLL action. Ed Comeau, Georgia’s head coach, told media members the quartet is still adjusting to NLL play. All four are elite players. Give them two games and they will be full go. I’m especially interested to see Perkovic play. He has a cannon for an arm and drops nukes on opposing defenses in the PLL. He’s a power shooter. In box, he’ll need more touch on his shots. I want to see if he rockets ranged goals in box. If so, he’ll bring a different dynamic to Georgia’s offense.
I’m not nervous about Georgia’s offense; however, the defense is worrisome. The roster is loaded with young, unknown players. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. The defense struggled against Halifax and must clean up their act. Were the struggles due to scheme? Were defensemen confused by Halifax’s offense? It was a preseason game so I can’t judge them too harshly. After all, a lot of training camps players get cut. For all I know, Georgia rested their best defensemen. Still, 21 goals is bothersome. You can’t do that in the regular season and expect to compete.
Assuming the defense improves, I expect Georgia to run away with the eastern division. New York is new. Philly isn’t up to NLL standards. New England is Georgia’s biggest threat, and they are miles (see what I did there?) behind them. Georgia was the only team in the new eastern division to finish last season with a record above .500. Georgia should burst out to a 3-0 start, setting up a monster showdown with Buffalo. Rochester, Philadelphia, and Colorado are no match for the Swarm’s offensive firepower.
Swarm fans should be excited for the 2019/2020 season. Hopefully, a good start will bring in more fans. The organization deserves it. They are the only good professional franchise in Georgia (looking at you Falcons and Hawks). They may have fallen short of last year’s expectations, but the pieces are in place to achieve them a year late.
I left a little reminder below of what happened the last time Georgia played a team from Rochester in honor of their opening game.
After publishing this article, I realized the Swarm defense performed at a higher level in their scrimmage against Buffalo. The Swarm won 17-13 and did not allow a third quarter goal. It seems the necessary tweaks and adjustments were made. As I stated above, in preseason action one shouldn’t get too worried about a team’s performance. Since I called out Georgia’s defense for a poor performance against Halifax, I felt it was only fair to edit this article and give them credit for a much better performance against the runner up Buffalo Bandits.
Do you agree with my Georgia Swarm takeaways? Disagree? Are you a Georgia fan and looking to chat Swarm lacrosse? Whatever your thoughts, let me know by connecting with me on my Twitter or Instagram. You can also subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. More NLL content is on the way! Any support is greatly appreciated. Thank you all for reading and good luck to the Georgia Swarm!