The Saskatchewan Rush (3-2) traveled down to Georgia this past weekend to take on the Swarm (5-2). This edition of the Battle of the Brothers – all four Thompson brothers dressed – saw the Swarm come out on top with a 13-10 decision that was never really close to begin with. The Swarm returned to the win column after dropping their last two games, and Saskatchewan – who started flat and played catch-up all game – lost for the first time since December 28th. Lots of credit goes to the Swarm, who came out hot and put the pressure on the Rush early. It was a strategy that I didn’t think they could maintain, and there were times where it almost backfired, but they held on to secure the win. The Swarm were just hungrier while the Saskatchewan Rush were complacent and at times sloppy.
LISTEN: Catch this week’s Lacrosse Classified podcast with Shayne Jackson of the Georgia Swarm and Ryan Benesch of the Colorado Mammoth here.
You always want to start the game out on the right end of things, but that wasn’t in the cards for the Rush on Sunday. The Swarm jumped out to a five-goal lead early and never really looked back. Rush goalkeeper Evan Kirk got pulled from the cage at the 7:20 mark of the first quarter. Backup Adam Shute came in to stop the bleeding and did an excellent job, allowing just 7 goals on 35 shots against, but the damage had already been dealt.
Probably four of the five goals given up before Kirk was yanked were defensive lapses that led to open looks for the Swarm, and the offense couldn’t get a decent possession until the middle of the quarter. Luckily, they recovered in the second, but Georgia kept their foot on the gas and didn’t give an inch that wasn’t going to be earned. Knocking the defending champs back on their heels is no easy feat, but on a night that saw the Swarm stripping the ball from the Rush in transition time-after-time — in addition to Lyle Thompson scoring his 300th career point — the Georgia Swarm seemed in control for the majority of the game.
But the abysmal first quarter, that finished with a 6-1 Georgia lead (they led 7-2 at half) was, hopefully, a fluke for the Saskatchewan Rush. Champions get knocked down but they also get right back up. The Rush went into the locker room after the first 30 minutes of play and came back out to manufacture an eight-goal second half, including a five-goal fourth quarter that saw them pull within two goals before the dagger was scored on an empty-netter from the stick of Georgia’s John Ranagan. In spite of the loss, Jeff Shattler had himself a night, finishing with two goals and five assists, and both Matthew Dinsdale and Mark Matthews had hat tricks. The third and fourth quarters both belonged to the Rush, with the play becoming a little less frantic and the pace slowed down a bit. It was too little, too late, though.
It isn’t time to go soul-searching for the Rush, but they were playing Georgia’s game instead of their own to start out and it wasn’t a good look. If they can get back to playing Rush ball, it’ll be a big turnaround from Sunday afternoon. The Rush travel to Toronto this coming weekend to take on the first-place Rock in what’s sure to be a good showdown. If the Rush want to shake off their latest loss, they’re going to have to come out hard and fast. Look for an electric bout this coming Friday, February 1st.