Editor’s Note: Maria Jollie is a guest writer to TC Huddle. She previously worked for the Minnesota Swarm writing articles, press releases and live blogging on game day for the organization. TCH is excited to have her break down the Swarm’s prospects in this 2013 season.
In the National Lacrosse League (NLL), a mistimed blink might cause a spectator to miss an important part of each action-packed game. Thirteen of the twenty-one NLL games played this season have been decided by two or less goals – for the Minnesota Swarm, three of four games have been won or lost by a single goal. While the Swarm lacks an impressive record to begin the season (1-3), the team is capable and looking for a way to propel into NLL prominence.
Prominence takes form in the 6-foot-5 rookie Kiel Matisz who is the NLL’s Week #4 Rookie of the Week. Matisz posted hat tricks in two consecutive games and has 6 goals and 5 assists this season. Not only does Matisz command offense, he poses threats all over the field and is second best on the team for loose ball recovery with 19 so far.
Also dominating the offense is rookie Shayne Jackson. When Jackson isn’t scoring, he is feeding the ball to a teammate to score. In each of the games that he hasn’t notched three or more goals, Jackson has delivered 4 assists.
Not only do these rookies avoid novice in their play on the field, they completely dispel all rookie sentiments in their expectations. They don’t look forward to blossoming in the next years of pro play; their aim is just the same as any seasoned veteran on the team – the Champions Cup.
“As a rookie you try not to have too many expectations, just contribute to the team in a positive way and work hard one game at a time,” said Matisz. “The goal is to definitely be hoisting that cup at the end of the year though.”
At least one rookie had scored a hat trick in three consecutive games until Saturday night’s contest at Colorado. Minnesota looked to make a comeback in the third quarter with a three-goal scoring streak to bring the score to 7-9 but couldn’t hold on. The disappointing loss (9-15) can be partially attributed to Colorado powerhouse John Grant Jr. – the NLL’s 2012 Most Valuable Player. Grant had 11 points (5g 6a) and appeared unstoppable Saturday night.
A vital component missing for the Swarm on Saturday was Callum Crawford, the team’s leading scorer in 2012. Crawford was out with an injury but hopes to join the team against Toronto Rock on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
“It’s tough,” Crawford said. “I haven’t missed a game in a long time. It’s tough to be a player and watch the guys that you battle with all year long out there and you can’t do anything to help it. It was a tough game for everybody top to bottom.”
Despite adversity on the road, the Swarm have a perfect record at home (1-0) and hope to keep it that way on Friday. There is no doubt that the young team is capable of pushing for more wins, all they have to do is prove it. Three close games and one disagreeable loss should be sufficient to fire the team up for this weekend.
“Our team’s a young team. We’ve got a lot of ability all over the floor” said Crawford. “All we need to do is play our game, each one of us take care of our jobs out there and the wins will come. I think we’ll rebound really well after last weekend.”
There is plenty of season left to fight and the Swarm is looking forward to it.
The Swarm take on Toronto at Xcel Energy Center at 7:30 p.m on Friday. For tickets and more information, visit www.mnswarm.com.