Recently relocated to a city where championships have been historically elusive, the Georgia Swarm didn’t waste much time flipping the script.
In just its second season in town, the Swarm delivered Atlanta a title.
The Swarm won the National Lacrosse League champion late Saturday night, defeating the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush 15-14 in overtime of Game 2 at SaskTel Centre. The Swarm took Game 1 18-14 in Duluth on June 4.
“Organizations win,” Swarm Co-Owner and President Andy Arlotta said via press release. “This has been a long time in the making and we stuck to our plan. We’ve gone through a lot of difficult times to get here. It’s nice to see these guys that have been with us continue to have faith in what we were doing. It’s a dream come true. I’m so happy for my dad and the organization.”
The Swarm completes its season at 17-5 with the Champion’s Cup sweep.
“It was pretty exciting,” Swarm coach Ed Comeau said. “We were right there, but they were good. They played hard, our guys played hard. It was awesome. … We knew they weren’t going to go away and we knew how hard they play and how well they prepared.”
Miles Thompson scored the game-winner, taking a one-handed pass from brother Lyle Thompson after he drew a defensive double-team and whipping a shot past Rush goalie Aaron Bold.
NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz announced postgame that Lyle Thompson was voted Champion’s Cup MVP. Thompson scored 12 points in two games.
The Swarm came out firing. Randy Staats opened the game with a goal in the first minute. That was a good omen; the Swarm is 5-1 when he scores first.
It led 3-0 after three minutes of play, but that lead shrunk to 7-6 at halftime. The Rush took its first lead in the fourth period, reeling off four-straight goals for a 12-10 advantage with 11:24 left in regulation. The Swarm responded with three consecutive goals of its own but Saskatchewan’s Jeremy Thompson evened the score again.
Adam Jones put the Rush up 14-13 in the late going and with 42 seconds remaining, the Swarm pulled Poulin for an extra attacker. The Rush regained possession and pulled Bold, hoping an extra man would help them keep the ball but the decision came back to haunt Saskatchewan.
The Swarm took possession on a errant pass. Joel White passed to Lyle for the winning attempt and then rebounded Lyle’s miss for the game-tying goal with three seconds left.
“We actually practiced that this morning,” Comeau said. “We had a plan for it. Now obviously our plan didn’t involve them missing a pass, but we had a plan to get the ball in the air and get it out of the guy’s stick.”
Miles Thompson’s game-winner came at 1:17 into the extra period
“I was going to go set a pick for Lyle, but he went over the top, and he drew two guys, which was my defender and his defender,” Miles said. “So he turned back towards me. I just started running down. He one-handed a pass to me and all I saw was goal-side top corner. So that’s what I shot, and after I shot that, I don’t know what happened. It’s crazy.”
Staats and Shayne Jackson had seven points apiece. Mike Poulin made 48 saves on 62 shots, just enough to cling to a win.
The franchise was founded as the Minnesota Swarm, playing in St. Paul from 2004-2015. It’s the team’s first title in 13 years.
The title is the third in Atlanta pro sports history, following the Atlanta Chiefs’ NASL championship in 1968 and the Atlanta Braves’ World Series win in 1995.