The Philadelphia Wings (3-6) host the Minnesota Swarm (1-7) at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday at 4pm ET. (Photo: Todd Bauders)
The Philadelphia Wings (3-6) host the Minnesota Swarm (1-7) at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET for their third and final meeting of the season. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
The Wings look to regroup from a tough 13-7 road loss to the Buffalo Bandits in Week 8 in what seems like a very winnable game for both Philadelphia and Minnesota this weekend to decide the season series.
“I think we’re disappointed, I know we're disappointed," said Wings assistant coach Jim Milligan. “We were hoping for a better result going in there and we felt that we were prepared and we matched up pretty good to them, but at the end of day we came up against a hot goalie and we struggled a little bit to put the ball in the net. And when you do that, you have a hard time winning, so hopefully we get things straightened out and we have a better result this weekend.”
In the effort to try and get their team record back up to .500, the Wings will have to bring the same intensity they brought against their second meeting with the Swarm, as they spoiled their home opener with a 15-8 win despite losing by a close 11-10 score the previous night.
“They’re a solid team and anybody can win any night,” Milligan said. “They’re going to come in prepared…any night any team can win so we just have to bring our best and look after what we can look after and control what we can control and hope for the best outcome.”
Philly transition player CJ Costabile added that although they’ve had a tough last couple of weeks, “we’re very focused, very hungry and excited” to go out and play against Minnesota.
As Wings goalie Evan Kirk will take on his former team once again, Milligan explained that he’s still “got the ball right now” and going to be their starting goalie despite the re-signing of goalie Brandon Miller, who is still training to get back up to playing in NLL speed.
“Brandon came in to give a little spring to the back end,” Milligan said. “You always have a better chance when you have two good goaltenders and you can always interchange them. We’re going to work Brandon in and if he gets in the groove, we’ll keep running with it.”
However despite Miller’s talent on the field, Milligan was sure to include his presence in the locker room as a player that “everybody loves” and a “key part” to making the team stronger.
Forward Roger Vyse, though, will not be in the lineup as previously injured forward Kevin Ross will most likely be back this weekend.
“We’re a 3-6 team and we want to get back,” Costabile said. “You take one game at a time, you want to get it back and be positive. This league is so competitive. Every team is so good you never know who you’re going to get each day. We know they’re going to come out with their best and we’re going to come out with our best."
The Wings hope to channel some toughness from their fellow Wells Fargo Center tenant, the Philadelphia Flyers, as the team will wear special Flyers-themed orange and black jerseys to be auctioned off for charity after the game.
Meanwhile, desperation has set in for Minnesota after their 14-12 road loss to the Toronto Rock on Saturday night. Swarm transition player Jordan MacIntosh scored a career-high five goals, including three fourth-quarter dunks, as the Swarm came up short despite outscoring Toronto 8-1 in the final frame.
Despite another loss, the Swarm hope to get another win in Philadelphia, a place that yielded their lone victory of the season so far.
“That win seems like a lifetime ago and I know Philly is playing better than they were even then,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “I think that they’ve established themselves as a good strong team in the East.”
Unfortunately, Minnesota hasn’t been able to connect their offensive and defensive play to produce another win since then.
“We are where we are for a reason,” said Sullivan. “We haven’t been able to put consecutive games together.”
It will be quick turnaround for the Swarm, who played a 7 p.m. ET game in Toronto. With less than 24 hours and one flight in-between games, the Swarm will need to perpetuate their energy.
“The challenge will be what can we do in Toronto firstly,” said Sullivan. “Then turn around and how do we answer the bell in Philadelphia is going to be the biggest challenge for my team.”
The team will rely on finding the mental strength to produce top physical performance as they approach their second game.
“I think more than the physical toughness of the back-to-back weekend is just making sure that you're mentally stable,” said Swarm transition player Jordan MacIntosh. “Not getting too high or too low after the first game and prepare like you would any normal night for the second game.”
Minnesota is looking to step up in the standings for the chance to contend for a playoff spot.
Looking for the resilience and balance of a young team with high hopes, the Swarm hope to spark a winning fury to begin the second half the National Lacrosse League season.
“We know that we have guys in our room that can play at a higher level,” said MacIntosh. “So it’s just a matter of time before we get it figured out and start playing at that higher level.”