It didn’t look like it was meant to be. Down 5-2 at the half, the Minnesota Swarm were shooting against a brick wall in the Wings’ Brandon Miller, and the Swarm just could not solve him. With money riding on every Swarm goal, the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund had to be wondering if they were going to walk out of the X with $20 and coupon for a cheeseburger at McDonalds.
The second half, however, would be a different game. The Swarm blew up for nine goals, using the momentum built off of a record setting performance by Ryan Benesch to secure an 11-9 victory, and move them closer to hosting a first round play off game.
The eleven goals earned a whopping $2110 for the RSCRF, with jersey, helmet, performance team t-shirts, Professor’s jacket, and Buzz jersey auctions still left to conclude. Asked about the figure, Coach Mike Lines, who issued the challenge, said “it all goes to a great cause. I was glad to see others jump on board for it. Everybody, somewhere along the line knows somebody that’s been effected by [cancer]. It’s a terrible thing, and hopefully we can get a cure for it.”
Benesch, the league’s leading scorer, had another stellar night, adding three goals and two assists to his total, making him the Swarm’s new single season record holder. He was humble about the accomplishment saying “I don’t take credit for that, I give it all to my teammates. They’re the ones I’m working with, and the reason I’m getting the goals.”
While Benesch will be the headliner, with the record, and his boost to the coach’s challenge, there were several easily overlooked performances tonight that helped the Swarm secure the win. One player that had a superb game that will not show up on the score sheet was Rich Morgan.
The 6’8" transition player was strong on the ball the whole game, won some key battles, and had some good looks at the net. Asked about Morgan, Coach Lines said “he’s been a rock for us. He’s accepted any role that’s given, he’s working his tail off game in, game out. He plays his heart out every shift.”
The win tonight keeps the Swarm in contention for the second place spot, with the Washington Stealth playing tonight as well. At the time of this post, the Stealth were losing 6-5, but it was still very early in the game.
With a loud and boisterous 9635 on hand tonight at the X, the Swarm were thankful for the support. Benesch said he was “glad to send them home with a win,” and Lines said the fans “deserved what they got tonight.”
Those fans sure would love a home playoff game to scream about.
When the Minnesota Swarm and Philadelphia Wings face-off tonight, there will be more at stake than just second place in the Western Division and potential home field advantage in the playoffs. Tonight also marks "The Hive Cares" night at the X, with proceeds from a number of fundraising activities being donated to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.
The Swarm will wear pink striped jerseys and pink helmets, both of which are being auctioned off to benefit both the RSCRCF and local lacrosse initiatives. The Swarm Performance team is auctioning off their shirts from the evening, signed by the entire PT, and even "The Professor" and Buzz (the Swarm's mascot) are in on the action.
Other donations are being given through the "Coach's Challenge" in which partners have pledged to donate $10 for each Swarm goal scored, matching the challenge issued by Swarm coach Mike Lines. SBNation has joined the challenge, and hope for a tight defensive battle tonight. Finally, and likely the most significant donation is coming directly from the Swarm as $3 of every $20 ticket will be donated to the RSCRCF.
If all of that is not reason enough to head out to the game, the fact that they still plan to play NLL lacrosse should be reason enough.
This is another big game, as the Swarm close out the season with two games at home. They need to win out, and have the Washington Stealth lose their remaining game, in order to have a home playoff game this season. A win tonight over the already eliminated Wings would go a long way in terms of morale and standings.
Being the first meeting of the season between the two teams, there is little to go on to tell you what to expect, but the Swarm are the third highest scoring team in the league right now, and Ryan Benesch is the league's leading goal scorer, and second highest point scorer in terms of points per game, and with money for charity on the line, you can expect the Swarm to come out with the back of the net at the front of their minds.
Coach Mike Lines said that “Ryan has really dedicated himself to being a better player all around. He’s doing other things really well, and then obviously he’s putting the ball in the net. He contributes his success to the players around him. Ross is doing a great job on that side of the floor freeing him up and Jamie Shewchuk had an excellent game last week. Ryan has been steady and deserves everything that he has got this year with all the hard work he has put in.”
However, no one in the Swarm locker room expects this to be an easy win. The Wings have a roster full of professionals, and no one likes to lose. Lines said of the Wings, "They’re a young, and athletic team that never gives up,” Lines said. “They’re very good defensively and that has a lot to do with their athleticism. I don’t expect them to roll over and die because they aren’t in the playoffs."
They're going to need to be very good defensively if they expect to slow down a pumped up Swarm team tonight.