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Georgia Swarm's Lyle Thompson.

NLL Power Rankings: Rush, Swarm Make 3-Spot Climbs

March 4, 2024
Jack Goods
James Bennett / Georgia Swarm

Both of last year’s NLL Finals participants are under .500, while the team that finished last in the standings is a half-game out of first place following Week 14 of the National Lacrosse League season.

Will those trajectories hold up as the March to May continues?

1. Toronto Rock (10-2)

The Rock are the first team to reach double-digit wins, sweeping the weekend with a pair of victories — 16-11 over Las Vegas and 15-13 over fellow contender San Diego. The Desert Dogs game was the breezier of the two, with Chris Boushy matching his foe’s production with seven goals and four assists. Mark Matthews only scored once but still managed to dish eight assists. A night later, Toronto scored three unanswered in the final two minutes, with Dan Lintner equalizing and Tom Schreiber giving the Rock a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Last week: 1

2. Albany FireWolves (9-2)

The FireWolves triumphed in the penultimate matchup between interstate rivals, getting seven points from Alex Simmons and six from Tye Kurtz in a 14-8 meeting with the Riptide. Albany never trailed after taking a 3-0 lead, stretching the advantage to seven in the second, third and fourth quarters. As the team continues to prove its legitimacy, it’s fair to wonder just how many awards could go to representatives of the franchise. Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year? Last week: 3

3. San Diego Seals (8-4)

The Seals easily could have gone 2-0 or 0-2 last weekend but earned a split with a 10-9 overtime victory against Panther City Friday and Saturday’s defeat at the hands of the Rock. Dane Dobbie connected with Austin Staats on a behind-the-back pass against PCLC, and Staats spun around into a goal to win it. A day later, San Diego was up a goal inside the final three minutes but couldn’t hold on against Toronto. Staats finished with 13 points in the pair of outings. Last week: 2

4. Halifax Thunderbirds (7-5)

The Thunderbirds ended on a five-goal run, turning a 12-6 deficit into a 12-11 final against Georgia, but had little chance to truly win considering Graeme Hossack’s final tally came with six seconds remaining. Halifax fell for the second time in three games, with Clarke Petterson leading the offense with six points. Last week: 4

5. Georgia Swarm (7-6)

The Swarm never trailed Friday night against Halifax, leading by as much as six in the early stages of the fourth quarter, but a final push by the Thunderbirds at least made them sweat. Three players notched six points apiece — Lyle Thompson, Andrew Kew and Brendan Bomberry — as the Swarm snapped a two-game losing streak. Last week: 8

6. Calgary Roughnecks (5-6)

The Roughnecks looked well on their way to winning a fourth straight after Dan Taylor put them up 9-6 against Philadelphia to end the third quarter. Unfortunately, that marked the final time they beat Zach Higgins. The Wings closed on a 5-0 run to earn an 11-9 result. Tanner Cook, Jesse King and Tyler Pace all had four points for the Roughnecks, who face a tough stretch with upcoming games against Georgia, San Diego and Albany. Last week: 6

7. Panther City Lacrosse Club (5-6)

PCLC took a dive with the overtime loss to San Diego and a subsequent 19-15 result against Rochester. Panther City led in the fourth quarter against the Seals when Callum Crawford made it 8-7, and Ryan Sheridan forced the extra frame after San Diego responded, but it wasn’t enough. The outing against the Knighthawks slipped out of their hands early, never getting closer than three goals in the second half. Last week: 5

8. Saskatchewan Rush (4-5)

The Rush got out to an early 6-2 lead and never looked back in a 15-7 dismantling of the Mammoth. Saskatchewan outscored its historic western foes in every quarter, with Robert Church and Ryan Keenan each contributing eight points. Winners of three of the last four, the new-look roster has gotten back into playoff contention following a dreary 1-4 start. Last week: 11

9. Buffalo Bandits (5-6)

The defending champions are in an unfamiliar position, near the playoff cutline and under .500 deep into the season for the first time since 2018. Buffalo’s latest outing is the most troubling, a 13-12 defeat at the hands of struggling Vancouver. Devlin Shanahan, playing in injured Matt Vinc’s stead, was pulled in favor of Steven Orleman, a move that at least allowed the Bandits to get back into it after going down 7-3 early. Dhane Smith is putting up record assist numbers, but is it time to worry that he only has 12 goals? And where is the secondary scoring? Last week: 7

10. New York Riptide (5-7)

The positive vibes around the Riptide have started to fade after three straight defeats, all by six goals or more. Jeff Teat had five points and Stephen Keogh added four, but New York never truly threatened Albany after the FireWolves turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 advantage early in the second quarter. The Riptide will need to regroup if they want to make the playoffs prior to their impending move to Ottawa. Last week: 9

11. Rochester Knighthawks (4-6)

The K-Hawks’ six-game losing streak mercifully came to an end, with the team never trailing in the win against Panther City. Connor Fields set a new career high with 14 points — tying Panther City’s Callum Crawford for the most in a game this season — and Rochester’s early 5-1 spurt put it in the driver’s seat. Could they still be alive for the playoffs? Last week: 12

12. Philadelphia Wings (4-6)

Zach Higgins made 50 saves and shut out the Roughnecks for the final 20 minutes to spur his team to victory. Mitch Jones equalized at 9 with 5:32 remaining, and Joe Resetarits netted the winner a bit over a minute later. Resetarits and Ben McIntosh each had five points. Last week: 14

13. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-7)

The Desert Dogs hung with top-seeded Toronto, going up 2-0 early and staying within three goals throughout the third quarter, but didn’t quite have an upset in them. Jack Hannah recorded his second career sock trick, while Rob Hellyer had a goal and six assists. Last week: 10

14. Colorado Mammoth (4-8)

The Mammoth offense could not build on the momentum of an 18-goal outburst last week against New York, failing to reach double digits for a fifth time this season in a matchup with Saskatchewan. Every Colorado response was met with a more formidable strike by Saskatchewan, leading to a third defeat by seven or more goals for the defending West champions. Last week: 13

15. Vancouver Warriors (3-8)

Adam Charalambides notched eight points, a new career high, as Vancouver shocked the Bandits for its first win since January 20 and first home win since December 16. The Warriors held on as Buffalo closed on a 3-0 run, with Josh Byrne cutting the deficit to one with 2:32 remaining. Aden Walsh made 39 saves as he continued to take over the starting role. Last week: 15