If every quarter were the fourth quarter and every opponent the Philadelphia Wings, the Minnesota Swarm might not be in the predicament they’re in. As it is, the Swarm carded their second National Lacrosse League win of the season on Sunday, edging the Wings 15-14. It’s just the second win of the season for the Swarm, and both have come at Philadelphia, and both by 1 goal. “Collectively they all believed today,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan told the team’s website. “We didn’t get the start we wanted but the heart and character came through and everyone played for the guy next to them.” And that heart and character for Minnesota once again was on full display in the fourth quarter, where the Swarm have outscored foes 18-5 in their last 3 games.
And on Sunday, the Swarm found themselves in the same hole that they were in the 2 games prior: trailing at the end of the third quarter. But while the deficits in the last 2 games were 13-4 and 12-4, respectively, Sunday’s situation was not as dire. The Swarm trailed just 12-10 on Sunday, so there was no need to stage a rally like they did with 8 goals in the fourth quarter against Toronto and 5 against Edmonton on Feb. 15.
They’d take it, of course, but they didn’t need it because rookie Logan Schuss scored a natural hat trick to get it rolling for the Swarm. And when Andrew Suitor added his goal at 8:55, the Swarm were leading 14-12.
Kevin Crowley and Scott Jones traded goals and Jordan Hall then brought Philly to within a goal on his extra-attacker goal with 45 seconds left. But the Swarm stood strong and goalie Zach Higgins made a stop in the final seconds to preserve the win and snap a 5-game skid for Minnesota.
“It’s all about what coach Sully has been talking to us about: having faith in each other,” said Schuss, who finished with a career-best 5 goals. “We know lacrosse is a game of runs and we were going to get our chance and it ended up working out for us.”
The win didn’t exactly clinch a playoff spot, but it did help Minnesota (2-7) gain ground on Philadelphia (3-7), which lost its fourth straight. And although Minnesota lost to Toronto on Saturday, they’re just 2.5 games behind the Rock in the standings for the third and final playoff spot in the East Division.
Minnesota and Toronto play twice more this season, including a March 16 matchup in Minnesota. The Swarm also play 6 of their final 9 games at home, although they have yet to win at home this winter in 3 tries.
But, if Sunday’s performance can provide any sort of momentum, it’s always easier to maintain that comfort zone in a familiar environment. And as comfortable as the Swarm have become in Philadelphia, there are no more games there this winter so they’ll have to find a way to get it done at home the rest of the way if there’s going to be any playoff parties in Minnesota.
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Looking for the difference-maker for Philly in Sunday’s loss? Wings coach Blane Harrison has the answer, and he’s looking at the 5-for-5 line on power play goals. “The Swarm had five goals on the power play compared to our two. That’s the difference in the game. They swapped goalies after our big first half and it seemed to change their momentum,” he said. (Philadelphia Wings) … Four goals on 8 shots in first 10 minutes was a good start for the Knighthawks on Saturday, which means it wasn’t a good start for Calgary goalie Mike Poulin. The veteran keeper got the hook, but not for long, and came back to anchor Calgary’s winning rally with a refreshed perspective. “It’s sending a message to me and sending a message to everyone that we need to be better. We can’t let the first five minutes of this game determine how the night’s going to end,” said Poulin. (Calgary Sun) … We all saw it, and so did Rochester coach Mike Hasen. The Roughnecks found a new gear after their early deficit. “They turned it up to a different level. They were running the floor very well, and they capitalized on their opportunities, that was the difference there tonight,” he said. (NLL.com).Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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