Since the New England Black Wolves (2-1) and Georgia Swarm (4-0) last met on opening night, neither team has lost and they are arguably two of the hottest teams in the National Lacrosse League.
Georgia was on top 11-6 after three quarters back on December 15th, and all New England has done since then is win seven out of nine quarters and outscore their opponents 34-26. This Saturday’s rematch will feature the teams with the third highest goals for, Georgia, versus the third lowest goals against, New England.
The Black Wolves have beaten two West Division teams, Saskatchewan and Calgary, while the Swarm have narrowly taken down three teams from the East and one from the West, Vancouver. Georgia will now travel to Toronto on Friday to face the Rock before finishing their weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday.
Along with two of the league’s best teams, Saturday’s game will showcase two of the top goal scorers in the NLL with Reilly O’Connor and Lyle Thompson. O’Connor, in his fourth season, has 11 goals in three games and is only seven off his 2017 career high of 18. He is also quickly becoming one of the league’s premier goal scorers, joining players like Georgia’s Lyle Thompson. Perhaps the NLL’s most dominant goal scorer throughout recent years, Thompson is continuing to fill the net with 11 goals of his own through four games.
O’Connor and Thompson cannot do it all on their own, and both teams need to start relying on their secondary scoring to pick it up. New England has had 11 different players contribute with goals in their three games while Georgia has had 15 players score in four games.
For the Black Wolves, Callum Crawford (7G, 13A) leads the team with 20 points. Stephan Leblanc (4G, 11A), Tyler Digby (5G, 7A), JP Kealey (2G, 7A), and Seth Oakes (3G, 6A) have also been key contributors to New England’s recent success.
The Swarm have seen a little more scoring from their secondary guys as Randy Staats, Holden Cattoni, and Miles Thompson who have all put away six goals each. Zed Williams (5G, 4A) and Shayne Jackson (4G, 7A) are also guys to keep an eye on if New England’s defense can keep Lyle Thompson in check.
As the Black Wolves take the floor to celebrate their 5th anniversary on Saturday, they can cement themselves in the talk of the NLL’s best with a victory over the Swarm. If Georgia loses in Toronto on Friday and New England can top the Swarm on Saturday, the log jam atop the East Division will get even tighter with New England and Georgia right in the middle of it.
Saturday’s game will be the first of New England’s next seven games being against East Division foes while Georgia will play eight of their next 10 in the East. If anything, Saturday’s matchup is shaping up to be the start of another bare knuckle battle for a playoff spot in the NLL’s East Division.