#33 T David Earl
Lacrosse is a game of ball possession. A team cannot score in one end if they are not able to get control of the ball in the other and move it up the floor. So for each instance where an offensive player gets all the glory with a highlight reel goal, you can rest assured it was the work of the defense and transition players that set them up.
Transition player David Earl is one of the most reliable cogs of the Swarm’s defensive machine. Playing his third season in the NLL, Earl is counted upon night-in and night-out to hold down the fort in his own end and to move the ball up to his more offense-minded teammates. In 13 games played this year, the Simsbury, Conn. native has already set career-highs in assists (11) and forced turnovers (18) while delivering a steady stream of loose balls (79).
For this week’s Swarm Q&A, MNSwarm.com caught up with Earl, and found out more about his life off of the field, what makes him an effective player and how his team is going to approach the last couple games of the NLL season.
Hollerud: What keeps you busy away from the lacrosse field during the week?
Earl: I started a company called 2Way Lacrosse the summer after I graduated from Notre Dame. We started with summer camps and then it grew to all sorts of events: camps and clinics throughout the year, a couple tournaments and summer and fall club teams. So when I get back from playing on the weekends I am planning new events or running clinics and stuff like that. It’s a lot of fun.
Hollerud: Do you foresee this panning out as a career or is it just something you are doing to keep you busy while playing?
Earl: It’s gotten to the point where it’s a pretty substantial business. It keeps me busy most days of the week and it allows me to have a creative side and create new events. During the summer every week is packed with me directing camps and running tournaments. I can see myself doing this for a while, I am a big entrepreneurial spirit and I like creating new things, coming up with new ideas and companies, and I can see myself being an entrepreneur moving forward and after I stop playing. Right now it’s all lacrosse and it’s fun and keeps me busy.
Hollerud: A month or so ago, Tyler Hass called you out for always watching The Bachelor when you guys were roommates on the road, do you want to give a rebuttal to these allegations?
Earl: That’s just typical Hass right there... I’m not a big Bachelor fan – my girlfriend does watch it – but it’s just not something I watch on the road. [Hass] is actually in control of the clicker on the road and gets to pick his shows, so if anything he’s the one who wants to watch The Bachelor, since he has the clicker privileges with his old age.
Hollerud: Being that you are a duel-citizen of Canada and the U.S., do you ever get any flack from your teammates for being stuck in the middle of the Canada-U.S. rivalry, especially in an Olympic year?
Earl: My dad was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, so I am a hybrid. I love both countries equally- I’m actually in the middle of the process of trying out for Team Canada in the World Championships, so I get a lot crap I guess you could say for being in the middle of such a big rivalry with hockey and lacrosse. But as someone who grew up loving both countries and visiting Canada growing up with my Dad there, it’s easy for me to see that I like both countries and easy for me to cheer on both countries. But during those Olympics it was tough for me to even watch a game, I wasn’t really cheering one way or the other, I was just hoping for a good game.
Hollerud: Particularly in the last couple of weeks, your transition core have seemed to have a lot of opportunities to take the ball to the opposing net on a rush. During these plays, what determines whether you take the shot yourself or curl back and wait for the forwards off of the bench?
Earl: I guess it’s just reading the situation. I think being a transition player and starting off playing defense, if you have the opportunity to push the ball up and you have an odd-number situation, that’s when a coach wants you to push it. Outside of that, if you realize that they have defensemen back in the zone and the numbers aren’t there that’s when you pull back and let the O guys do their stuff.
Hollerud: For the casual fans watching you play, what are the telltale signs that you are playing at the top of your game?
Earl: I think when I am putting a lot of pressure on the opposing offense, similar to hockey and basketball. I want to be the player who is able to stick with his guy, pick up the loose balls and be aggressive with hitting, pushing in transition and clearing the ball. Those kinds of things are ways to see if someone is playing well or not. Our defensive style, similar to what you would see in basketball, is very aggressive. Causing turnovers and causing chaos for them and forcing them to throw the ball away– those are good signs that a defenseman or transition player is doing his job and playing well.
Hollerud: The defensive corps has been up and down this year, with some tough games and then some games where you have been absolutely dominant. What is your diagnosis of the defensive side of the ball this season?
Earl: It’s been kind of a roller-coaster ride with our defense but for the most part we’ve been consistent. A few slip-ups have been caused because of communication, such as when we are down a couple of goals and we try to take some chances on the defensive side – which ends up causing more goals on our end.
We’re a young team, especially offensively, and when you get toward the ends of games that mean a lot, young teams tend to struggle. Defensively, just knowing when we can be aggressive and need to be aggressive is key; when we sit back and do not play our system is when we have been inconsistent.
Hollerud: You have been on a couple of playoff teams with the Swarm that have not only made it to the postseason but won a couple games there, how close is this roster from experiencing that kind of success?
Earl: I think we are really close– we’ve had a lot of one-goal, two-goal losses that could have easily gone the other way if we haven’t had the mental breakdowns. It’s messing up on the little details that have cost us the really close games that we needed to win. We are right there, and next year we’ll be back with an extra year of experience for both our new guys and our veteran guys. Next year you will see a similar team, but a more composed and confident team in the way we run our offense and defense.
Hollerud: Being out of playoff contention, how are you guys planning on getting yourselves up and motivated for your last couple games?
Earl: We talked about it at the end of the Buffalo game, the overall theme was that these last two games are for our pride as players and as an organization, to show that we are going to fight to the end whether we make the playoffs or not. I think all of the guys are on the same page with that and every one of our players and our coaching staff want to finish the season strong for our organization, our fans and the people who support us every game, home and away.
We’re all competitive athletes, we want to win every game, doesn’t matter if it’s for a playoff spot or not. With that in mind we won’t have a problem getting up for these last couple of games, hopefully finishing the season with a couple wins.