The Philadelphia Wings do not need to reinvent the wheel to get back to their winning ways; they just have to do their homework and put together consistent 60 minutes of hard-fought lacrosse week in and week out.
Over the past two weeks, the Wings have had a rough go of it. They are 0-2 in their last two games and, excluding the 4th quarter last weekend against the Toronto Rock, the Wings have been outscored 22-5 in their previous 5 quarters. They are now tied for 5th place in the NLL’s East Conference, and their -15 goal differential is tied for 3rd-worst in the league.
However, Wings Head Coach and General Manager Paul Day isn’t too concerned about where his team is at right now, even if he isn’t happy about their position in the standings. Coach Day and the rest of the Wings coaching staff understand the quality of guys they have on their roster and know what they’re capable of producing.
“This is a good group,” Day said. “We’re not panicking at 2-3. We think, if this is going to happen, this is a pretty good time of the year for this to be happening and for this group to understand what it takes to win.”
“I think this was some well-timed adversity – we were awful [against the Toronto Rock]. I’d rather have this game now, learn and change, then have a game like this if we’re 8-8.”
That game against Toronto that Day referenced was one of the team’s worst losses in franchise history. In fact, it was their third-most lopsided loss since the team’s inception in the 2018-19 season. There was a period of the game between the end of the 1st quarter and the beginning of the 4th quarter where the Wings didn’t score for over 35 minutes.
Head Coach Day emphasized that the inconsistencies and lack of urgency pushing the ball up to the offense throughout the year (but particularly last weekend) has often led to offensive players not having the ball in their sticks long enough. That is not giving the guys who need to be on attack enough time to work within set schemes.
After each game, the coaching staff provides each player with game film to study for the upcoming match (a widespread practice around the league). It is then incumbent upon each player to put in the time and effort to study and learn the material given to them. Head Coach Day believes that during the mid-week run-up to games, the players must focus more on completing and executing their assignments.
“Monday to Friday, we need to be much better as a group putting the study in – we trust them that they will study,” Day said. “Obviously, we spend lots of time with them going over video, but it’s the Monday to Friday that you need to have things soaked into your brain, not gameday or the night before at practice.”
One of the strategies that has been suggested to players this week is to focus on a specific part of their game that needs to improve and work on fixing that. If each player can make a marked improvement on one aspect of each of their games, that should improve the team’s performance.
Also, on the list of aspects of their game that need to be improved, Day noted that his team needs to learn how to play with a lead. For example, going back to Week 7 to their game against Panther City Lacrosse Club (which they lost 12-10), the Wings were leading 6-2 at the end of the 1st half. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it was 7-7. Day noted that this has been an unfortunate trend over the years and one that needs to change.
Wings forward Ben McIntosh echoed a similar sentiment, stating that it is essential for the guys to play a full 60 minutes as a consistent unit. This is such a competitive league, one known for teams going on (sometimes) extensive runs to control games, that you can’t even take a shift off if you want to be confident about bringing home a win.
“I think it’s consistency,” McIntosh said. “I think we’ve put together a solid quarter or a solid 10 minutes, but we need to have more runs like that and longer runs. We need to be able to put in 13-14 goals per night, and to do that, we need to put in more than just a quarter or a quarter and a half of work. The more consistency we have, the better we’ll be.”
The team’s disjointed season schedule and training camp has played a factor in all of these points, but it is not an excuse. And, by the way, they aren’t using it as one. The Wings know they need to play better, and they believe they’ll have a better overall performance in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bandits.
“You can get into a nice rhythm,” Day said. “The next 14 games are all against the East, and our tough travel is done now – we played in three different time zones at a very weird time to be traveling in December. We’re really excited about the consistency we’ll be able to have now.”
As the adage goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. For the record, neither was the Philadelphia Wings organization. There is an ongoing construction project in the city of brotherly love that will hopefully reap glorious rewards.
To complete that project, this team will need to buckle down and just play. Much like their NBA counterparts, the Philadelphia 76ers, who have done this in the past, the Wings must now trust and follow the step-by-step process that should lead them to success.