While the Georgia Swarm (3-0) remained undefeated with a 10-8 win against the Vancouver Warriors (1-3), it was no easy task. The Warriors came to Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12 and challenged the Swarm on their home turf.
The night was highlighted by four hat tricks across both teams, the Swarm’s first pick in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft Brendan Bomberry recording his first career NLL goal and hat trick, and by Swarm head coach Ed Comeau winning his 100th career NLL game – 89 regular season wins and 11 postseason wins.
“I didn’t even know,” Comeau said about his 100th win as an NLL head coach. “Kind of surprised by that, but a win in this league is hard to get, and hopefully we’ll get many more for the Swarm this year.”
While Vancouver would have rather had the win, head coach Chris Gill was pleased with what he saw from both ends of the floor from the Warriors.
“We played four quarters tonight,” he said. “That’s the first time all year we’ve played four quarters. Maybe that’s something this group needs. This team has taken it in the wrong side for a lot of times last year. To show that we can play with the best in four quarters, play four quarters of lacrosse, we can compete in every game. This is a huge, huge thing for us for our confidence.”
While Bomberry and Miles Thompson both recorded hat tricks, the Swarm defense saved their best for last to not waste their performances, preventing the Warriors from scoring for the last 15 min.
Miles came out firing for the Swarm, scoring the first two goals of the night. Jordan McBride netted his first goal of the night, followed 11 seconds later by Keegan Bal. Bomberry had the last word with an unassisted goal, the first one of his NLL career. Georgia was up 3-2 after the first 15 min.
The Warriors kicked things up another level in the second quarter. McBride scored his second and third goal of the night – both assisted by Bal – to give Vancouver the lead. Justin Salt and Bal scored one more each for a four-goal Warriors run. Lyle Thompson managed to cut into the run, the score now 6-4 with under five minutes left.
Zed Williams received a great feed from Randy Staats. All alone on the crease, he pumped some abbreviated fakes before ricocheting a shot off the top right corner of the goal into the bottom left corner. The buzzer sounded minutes under two minutes later with the Warriors heading back to the locker room up 6-5.
“Forget about it in the next five minutes; reset after five,” Gill said about the message to the team in the locker room at halftime. It was the first time all season that the Warriors had the lead at halftime.
Bomberry found himself in the penalty box in the beginning of the third quarter. Georgia’s penalty kill unit did as its name suggests. Once he was out of the box, Bomberry whipped the ball into the net to tie the game at six goals apiece.
Bal broke the tie and Logan Schuss scored a power play goal to put the Warriors up 8-6. Miles received a behind-the-back pass from Lyle and scored, ending it with Vancouver still up, 8-7.
The Swarm defense stepped up their collective game for the final quarter, preventing the Warriors from finding the back of the net once in the final 15 minutes. Jordan MacIntosh scored a five-hole goal in transition before Bomberry’s diving hat trick to take the final lead of the game.
“Our offense, once again, we were struggling a little bit, clicking just with timing,” Comeau said. “Brendan was a goal-scorer in college. We asked him to play a D role for us, but we have confidence when he goes up there that he’s going to bury the ball. That was a great game for him, and those goals were huge for us.”
Lyle recorded the final tally of the night. He broke up a bounce pass from the Warriors, collected the loose ball, and streaked off towards the goal. All alone, he dove across the left side of the crease and buried the ball into the black. After a furious flurry of shots from Vancouver, Georgia held on in the final seconds for the 10-8 win, its third-straight win.
“The shift before, we had called two timeouts, and not one of the three refs looked at our bench and saw us calling timeout,” Gill said. “Then Lyle went down and scored to make it 10-8. That was a bit of a burner for us, but we got the ball back, and we had our best players on the floor on offense. We had some good looks, and their defense stepped up and blocked a few shots.”
Lyle led the Swarm in points with four (2G, 2A). Goaltender Mike Poulin finished with an .800 SV% after making 32 saves.
For the Warriors, they were led by McBride and Bal with five points (3G, 2A) each. Netminder Aaron Bold was handed the loss after stopping 37 of 47 SOG, a .787 SV%.
“I trusted in the guys in front of me, and you could see that,” Bold said about his performance Saturday night. “I just trusted in my skills, as well. I was just a little bit more kind of relaxed and calm. The first few games was kind of going off raw emotion rather than the skill set and letting it come second nature.”
The Swarm head to the City of Brotherly Love for their first game against the Philadelphia Wings (0-3) on Saturday, Jan. 12. Faceoff at Wells Fargo Center is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
“We’re going to have to be ready,” Comeau said. “(Philadelphia) is going to be intense with the crowd, and we’re going to have to be the same.”
The Warriors return home on Saturday, Jan. 12 to take on the Saskatchewan Rush (1-1). Faceoff at Rogers Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. PT.
“Of course, (the Rush) are a great team, just like Georgia here,” Bold said. “They can move the ball very well. We have to play a full sixty minutes to compete with top-end teams. I think even if we do, we have to trust in the systems and trust in the coaching staff and what they have to say about prepping towards specific teams and go from there.”
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