The Georgia Swarm are coming into the 2020 season after a 2019 campaign where they went 12-6 and finished second in the East Division. The Swarm were knocked out of the playoffs in the East Division semifinals for the first time since 2016, losing a tight 16-14 contest at home against the Toronto Rock.
With a ton of talent back and hopefully a fully healthy Mike Poulin in net, Georgia looks to be the top dogs in the new East Division which includes the New England BlackWolves, Philadelphia Wings and New York Riptide, one of two expansion teams this season.
It was another hectic offseason for not only the Swarm, but the rest of the league as well, with another expansion draft over the summer. In the expansion draft, Georgia was hit pretty hard as they lost guys on both ends of the floor with Holden Cattoni being selected by Rochester and John Ranagan being taken by New York.
Outside of the expansion draft, Georgia re-signed multiple players including Mike Poulin, Zed Williams and Miles Thompson, and traded Joel Tinney to New England in exchange for a second round pick in the 2021 NLL Entry Draft.
Georgia went into the draft with 10 picks, but ended up only making six as they traded away four of them, including the number 28 pick to San Diego in exchange for left-handed forward Zach Miller prior to the draft to help to bolster a thin left side. Georgia traded their other picks for future considerations, besides their sixth round pick on which they just let the clock run out.
The six players the Swarm drafted were:
- defenseman Kason Tarbell out of Cornell and the Six Nations Chiefs
- transition player Ryan MacSpayden from Mercy College and the Brooklin LC
- transition player T.J. Comizio out of Villanova
- defenseman Gunnar Schimoler out of UMBC
- transition player Jordan Gillis out of the Hamilton Bengals Jr.B
- forward Mikey Herring out of Virginia
Georgia released Mikey Herring and Gunnar Schimoler, placed T.J. Comizio on the practice roster, and placed Jordan Gillis on the Physically Unable to Perform List after sustaining an injury in the first week of training camp.
#2 Miles Thompson – Offense
# 4 Lyle Thompson – Offense
#20 Jordan Hall – Offense
#28 Zed Williams – Offense
#32 Shayne Jackson – Offense
#55 Bryan Cole – Offense
#83 Randy Staats – Offense
#11 Joel White – Transition
#15 Kason Tarbell – Transition
#21 Brendan Bomberry – Transition
#24 Jordan MacIntosh – Transition
#77 Ryan MacSpayden – Transition
#10 Alex Crepinsek – Defense
#13 Connor Sellars – Defense
#25 Leo Stouros – Defense
#27 Adam Wiedemann – Defense
#33 Matt Dunn – Defense
#44 Chad Tutton – Defense
#45 Jason Noble – Defense
#29 Kevin Orleman – Goalie
#30 Mike Poulin – Goalie
Again, things look bright in Georgia to start the season. They bring back four of the top five scorers from last season in Lyle Thompson (43G/62A, 105pts), Randy Staats (37G/59A, 96pts), Shayne Jackson (31G/49A, 80pts) and Zed Williams (22G/23A, 45pts).
With those four as main contributors last season, Georgia had one of the best offenses in the league. Their offense was mostly led by Thompson and Staats, but Cattoni also played a pretty big role. He was a prime shooting threat and his transition into the offense in his first and only year with the Swarm was seamless.
Even without Cattoni, the Georgia offense is still one of the best in the league, but there are some questions on the left side as Shayne Jackson is their only returning left-handed forward. However, Zach Miller is expected to step in and make a difference. The only concern with Miller is his lack of NLL experience and injury history as he was on the IR in San Diego all last year after going down in his first NLL game. But should he stay healthy, Miller can play and is expected to make an impact in Georgia.
While transition players Jordan MacIntosh and Bryan Cole also give Georgia solid options on the run again this season, the one player to watch for a possible breakout season in Georgia this year is Brendan Bomberry.
Much like Zed Williams last season, Bomberry comes into his second year in the NLL after making a good impact as a rookie. The only difference is that Bomberry has a few more games under his belt coming into his second year than Williams did last season.
Bomberry has made an impact in the transition game as a defender and shown his ability to help trigger and generate offense. After a great summer with the Six Nations Chiefs in the MSL and reportedly showing off his offensive prowess in training camp, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bomberry get more playing time out of the front door this season.
The biggest question marks for the Swarm are on the defensive end. They struggled a lot with some new faces last season. Also, allowing teams to comeback in the third quarter and having to have their offense bail them out in the fourth quarter was a reoccurring theme.
First off, this defense will likely go as Mike Poulin goes. Last season, the defense in front of Poulin really improved as the season progressed, but after he went down late in the season it seemed like things really fell apart. Having a fully healthy Poulin will be crucial, and he’s played a lot of lacrosse lately between a Mann Cup run and the WILC. Poulin made 162 saves last season with a .791 save percentage and 10.94 goals against average.
In front of the net, Jason Noble (0G/1A, 52 LB, 22CTO), Connor Sellars (3G/5A, 65LB, 12CTO) and Alex Crepinsek (1G/4A, 76LB, 12CTO) will be three of the guys leading the charge this season. The defense will look a bit different without John Ranagan, but the fact that all of the returners got to experience last season with some new faces should be a plus for Georgia.
With the all the talent that the Swarm have back this season and their new divisional alignment, they should be the early favorite to win the East. Georgia obviously has a goal to get back to the NLL Finals and win the NLL Cup. That looks very attainable for this squad.
Georgia will open up their season on November 30th on the road against the Rochester Knighthawks. Their home opener will be the following week on December 14th against the Philadelphia Wings.
You can find the Georgia Swarm’s full 2019-20 season schedule here.