The Georgia Swarm (8-10) stayed hot at home and clinched the East’s final playoff spot Saturday night after defeating the Vancouver Stealth (5-13) 14-6 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena in front of 5,347 fans. The Swarm managed to win four of their final five regular season games, including the last three at home, to secure the third spot in the East Division. Georgia will head to New England for the Division Semifinals next Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. ET at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Fans can re-watch the Swarm’s playoff clinching victory at 11 p.m. Sunday on FOX Sports Southeast; Mark Zinno and Brad Scibak have the call.
“It’s a good feeling,” forward Shayne Jackson said. “A lot of us haven’t been to the playoffs for a couple of years now and that had been eating away at us. We knew what we had to do this game to get into the playoffs. We had that fire in our bellies and we went out and executed our game plans. Now, we’re moving onto next week.”
Jackson finished the night with a game-high nine points (4G, 5A) and reached the 40-goal mark on the season to go along with 43 assists. Forward Randy Staats (2G, 5A) had a historic evening in the win, as he set new NLL records for most points (95) and assists (59) by a rookie in a season. Staats also finished the season just one point shy of tying the Swarm franchise mark for most points in a season.
“For me personally, I think I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff without my teammates,” Staats said. “You can’t just do it by yourself. I praise my teammates more than me. I think they deserve the credit along with this playoff run we’re about to do here.”
Georgia completely dominated all facets of the game Saturday night, and built leads of 5-0 in the first quarter and entered halftime ahead 10-1. Goalie Brodie MacDonald was stellar in net and collected first star honors after making 35 saves on 41 shots.
The Swarm played against Vancouver without head coach Ed Comeau, who suffered a leg injury earlier in the week, which required surgery. Comeau was unable to travel with the team over the weekend. Blane Harrison served as the Swarm’s interim head coach, and said afterward that his team’s fast start played a crucial role in the win.
“I know when we’ve gotten off to a quick start, we’ve been able to hold the lead versus getting into a battle right off the gate,” Harrison said. “For me, it’s the way this team is made up. If we can get off to a good start, get focused, carry a fairly nice lead into the second half, then all things sort of work in our favor.”
Georgia celebrated Fan Appreciation Night, and featured former Atlanta professional athletesBrian Finneran and Brian Jordan in the crowd. The Swarm also honored John Michael Night, an 18-year-old lacrosse player, who suffered a stroke last Christmas and now has Locked-In-Syndrome, with a standing ovation in the first quarter and a private meet-and-greet before the game. Following the game, thousands of fans swarmed the field for autographs from the entire team.
Also contributing on offense against the Stealth included forwards Miles Thompson (3G), Lyle Thompson (2G, 1A) and Kiel Matisz (2G, 4A).
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Brodie MacDonald
2) Shayne Jackson
3) Randy Staats
Story by GeorgiaSwarm.com. Photo by Paul Sasso.