Swarm Stung: Rock Win Playoff Opener 16-14
Duluth, GA - The Toronto Rock won their East Division Semi-Final game by a score of 16-14 over the Georgia Swarm on Monday night in Duluth, GA. The win was the first ever for the Rock on the road in the post-season against the Swarm.
"It's a one-game showdown with two possible outcomes, you win and you move on or your season's over," said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. "We have a real good group and we like being around each other, we had no choice but to come out with a win and keep playing. Georgia was a team that had our number and the guys were sick of it. It was our time to get a big win against them and it was nice to do it on the road.
"Everyone in the lineup did a little something extra. You can go around the locker room and praise the whole team. I really felt Brock Sorensen had his best game in a Rock uniform tonight. I've coached him in Junior and coached against him a lot in the past as well, but that was the best game I've ever seen him play."
The Rock showed some resiliency in the first quarter. After giving up the game's first goal on the game's first shot, the Rock then found themselves down 2-0 when Georgia scored just two minutes after their first tally. But the slightly slow start didn't phase the team one bit.
"I thought let's get one in a hurry," said Sawyer. "The message to the guys was to stick with it. Getting down early to Georgia is something we've seen before, and although it wasn't the start we wanted, but we got a goal and started trending in the right direction. Our defence settled in and our offence got going."
Toronto went on a four-goal run and showed the Swarm that nothing was going to come easy in this one. Georgia ended the first quarter on a three-goal run and led 5-4 but didn't appear to have gained any momentum.
The second quarter saw the Rock seize the momentum, scoring five straight goals to open the quarter. The five goals came from five different players and Toronto led 9-5 just past the midway point of the quarter. The Swarm did outscore Toronto over the final minutes of the frame, but the Rock led 10-7 at the break.
Tom Schreiber continued his brilliance right off the hop in the second half, scoring just 26 seconds into the third quarter, a goal that seemed to deflate Georgia. With the score 12-7, the Rock delivered yet another goal that had the Swarm reeling when a Kieran McArdle pass towards the front of the goal got by everyone, including Georgia goalie Mike Poulin for a shorthanded Rock marker. Georgia did score one more, but the Rock had a healthy 13-8 lead through three quarters.
Georgia scored a pair of goals to make it a three-goal game with 7:58 remaining. Schreiber's fourth followed by a Brandon Slade goal increased the Rock lead to five goals with 3:50 to go. The teams traded goals and the Rock were up 16-11 with 2:35 to go.
However, the Swarm were not done. The home side caused some anxious moments in the late going for the Rock. Georgia scored three goals in 41 seconds to close the gap to two goals with 1:34 to play. The defence held the fort and the Rock held on for a massive playoff win.
"I was hoping they could run the clock," joked Sawyer when talking about the final moments of the game. "True to form, we made it interesting. We were playing a team with a lot of good players that have tasted a championship win not long ago and we knew they weren't going away. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a tense time final few minutes. It wasn't the finish we wanted but it certainly was the result we wanted."
Schreiber was the top goal scorer for the Rock with four, while Adam Jones finished as the top point-getter with nine (3G, 6A). McArdle, Rob Hellyer and Dan Craig each scored a pair and Slade, Johnny Powless and Brock Sorensen all potted singles.
The Rock will now face the top-seeded Bandits on Sat., May 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Buffalo at KeyBank Center in the East Division Championship Game.
For more information on Toronto Rock tickets, please contact a Toronto Rock account executive at 416-596-3075 or visit torontorock.com.
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National Lacrosse League Stories from May 7, 2019
- National Lacrosse League Division Finals Schedule Set - NLL
- San Diego Seals Lose Playoff Heartbreaker to Calgary Roughnecks - San Diego Seals
- Roughnecks Advance to West Division Final - Calgary Roughnecks
- Swarm Stung: Rock Win Playoff Opener 16-14 - Toronto Rock
- Georgia Swarm Eliminated in East Division Semifinals by Toronto - Georgia Swarm
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