In the second meeting of the 2019-2020 season between the two teams, the Philadelphia Wings played host to the Georgia Swarm. The first game between the two teams this season resulted in a 12-6 win for the Swarm. Usually, the first game of the season is one where teams are a little rusty. In the rematch, the Wings played Georgia close. Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades as the Swarm held on in regulation, 12-11.
Before this game, a comparison was made between the Philadelphia Wings and the Georgia Swarm since their first matchup of the 2019-2020 season. Unsurprisingly, the Swarm matches up well to the Wings. Georgia averaged a hair better than Philadelphia in goals scored per game and had a clear advantage in loose balls recovered. Extra possessions on hustle stats allow more scoring chances. The Wings averaged more shots on goal and had a great advantage in faceoffs, but the shot quality was the outlier in this loss.
From the opening faceoff, the action was packed as neither team could find room to separate on the scoreboard. It wasn’t until the last eleven seconds of the first quarter where a team was able to lock a lead into the next frame. That said, the Georgia Swarm were the ones taking control into the second quarter. The Philadelphia Wings were 1/1 on the penalty kill in the first quarter and received goals from Blaze Riorden, Matt Rambo, and Liam Byrnes. For the Swarm, Shayne Jackson, Zed Williams, and two Jordan Hall goals accounted for their goals in the first quarter.
Down by one, the Philadelphia Wings were able to strike first and tie the game in the second quarter. The Georgia Swarm went on a four-goal rally after to create the first real separation on the scoreboard. That rally by the Swarm put the Wings in a hole that seemed like quicksand for the rest of the game. Philadelphia was 2/3 on the PK by the end of the second quarter and received goals from Cory Vitarelli, Kevin Crowley, and two from Josh Currier. Georgia added a Randy Staats powerplay goal along with a barrage of goals from Adam Wiedemann, Zach Miller, Lyle Thompson, and two more from Shayne Jackson.
Clear adjustments were made on defense by the Philadelphia Wings in the second half. Zach Higgins also played a phenomenal second half, keeping the Wings in the game. By the end of the third quarter, the Philadelphia penalty kill was still strong, going 5/6. Kevin Crowley added a goal for the Wings, cutting the Georgia Swarm lead to two. Randy Staats also took the cheapest of shots at Liam Patten, which began a seven-minute, uninterrupted powerplay for Philadelphia.
Everyone at the Wells Fargo Center was on edge in the fourth quarter. Lacrosse is pure excitement in the NLL because games come down to the wire. The Philadelphia Wings were playing a team that they struggled with very closely, even with the absence of Brett Hickey from this game. Randy Staats put away the Wings in the fourth quarter, scoring the only goals for the Georgia Swarm in the second half. The efforts of Kiel Matisz, Matt Rambo, and Josh Currier just wasn’t enough in the final moments.
This loss hurt almost as much as the loss to the New England Black Wolves. Against the Black Wolves, the Philadelphia Wings lost in overtime on a goal where the opposing player was in the crease. In this game against the Georgia Swarm, Randy Staats became the villain for his cheap shot on Liam Patten and also sealed the win. These are tough pills to swallow. The Wings are still an “on the cusp” team in the NLL with so much potential to be greater than what their record shows.
No doubt, Brett Hickey not being available this game because of his full-time job (yes, NLL players are the working class too) played a part in the Philadelphia Wings offense not being as explosive. Look at the game logs, Hickey finds a way to score routinely. One or two more goals in this game could direct a winning narrative for the Wings against the Georgia Swarm. This was a tale of two halves. In particular, being unable to capitalize on the powerplay gifted from Randy Staats hurt Philadelphia.
This week, the Philadelphia Wings have an opportunity to rest players on a bye week. When they are in action again, the Wings will be traveling to Buffalo, NY at the KeyBank Center to visit the Buffalo Bandits. You can count on us at Philly Sports Network to bring the coverage on February 15th when faceoff takes place at 7 pm.