PHILADELPHIA – Jordan Krug and Dave Smith seem to have a connection.
Drafted by the Philadelphia Wings just 13 picks apart at the 2019 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft, the two recent college graduates have a lot in common.
Krug won an NCAA Division III National Championship with the Cabrini University Men’s Lacrosse Team on Memorial Day Weekend after leading his team in scoring with 75 goals and 38 assists in his senior year.
Smith also spent his summer celebrating a national championship after he captained the University of Virginia Lacrosse Team to its eighth Division 1 title.
Both of those games were played outdoors in front of large, rowdy crowds at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. On September 17, both Krug and Smith were in the shadows of the Linc once again as the NLL held it’s 2019 Entry Draft at Xfinity Live! across the street from the football stadium.
As fate would have it, both were drafted by the Wings, giving them a chance to compete for another championship in Philadelphia, playing their home games at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I have so much to be thankful for these last couple months,” said Smith, who was taken in the fourth round with the 53rd overall pick. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to play for Philly in some way. It was nice being here for the (NCAA) championships for UVA and having a hometown crowd. I’m just thankful for all the people for showing the love and I’m appreciative for the opportunity.”
Their paths actually intertwined much earlier.
Smith attended Shawnee High School in Medford, N.J. while Krug went to Cherokee High School a few miles away in Marlton, which is part of the same Lenape Regional High School District in the suburbs of Philadelphia. They both graduated in 2015, and each was a star on their respective high school lacrosse teams while also being impact players on their football teams. The two competed head-to-head multiple times a year.
“We’ve been playing football and lacrosse against each other since we were young boys,” said Krug, the 66th overall selection. “It’s a really sweet experience. Me and Dave are going to be able to get in there together and push each other, and I know both of us have that same championship mentality coming off this season.”
Wings Head Coach and General Manager Paul Day said he wanted to bring in strong leadership to improve his locker room after a tough season. The Wings went 4-14 in their expansion season last year, and Day said he wanted to bring in guys who were captains of their college teams and had a winning pedigree.
“I talked both of them quite a bit in the summer,” Day said. “They were really interested in playing box lacrosse. Both just won their national championships right here in Philadelphia, and we want to fill our team with captains and guys that have won. Obviously it’s great to get some local guys that can learn the game and grow with us as well.”
Krug received the loudest ovation at the draft as several family and friends made the short trip across the river to hear his name get called. He began signing autographs as soon as he left the stage.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get picked up or not,” Krug said. “But I knew my family and friends were going to be here supporting me. That’s usually how it is. My dad usually sets it all up.”
Smith had a similar experience with family and friends in attendance.
“As cheesy as it sounds, the best part about the entire experience is seeing how many people care and how many people love you,” Smith said. “It’s unbelievable.”
It may take some time for both Smith and Krug to get used to the indoor game after years of playing field lacrosse, but both attended the NLL Combine in Philadelphia and opened eyes while showcasing their skills.
“As soon as I got done with Virginia, I was already playing at the Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association,” Smith said. “It’s been around forever, and it’s a bunch of guys who get together and play box lacrosse. I’m excited to see how my game translates.”
You could say the trail has already been blazed for local talent. Last year, LaSalle High School and University of Maryland graduate Matt Rambo had a phenomenal rookie season for the Wings, scoring 26 goals and 30 assists.
“Just think about Matt Rambo,” Day said. “The first time he played box lacrosse was at the Wells Fargo. These guys get an opportunity to play and grow this game. The future is bright for us and here in Philly, and we hope to continue to grow the game.”
Krug is hoping the great trends of this past year continue.
“2019 has been treating me really well,” Krug said. “All that hard work that went in really pays off eventually. I ended up winning a national championship about 100 yards from where we are right now. It was an amazing experience, and I hope it continues.”