It’s no secret the Minnesota Swarm were dissatisfied with their regular-season performance. Leading goal scorer and captain Aaron Wilson made that quite clear.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” said Wilson, who tallied a career-high 89 points this season (40g, 49a). “It’s not the record we wanted and it’s not the record we deserved. We expected to be above .500.”
The final stretch was especially heartbreaking for Minnesota, losing six in a row, four of which by one goal and three of them in overtime. Last Saturday’s overtime loss to Orlando left the team in disbelief after a controversial Titans goal was reviewed and upheld.
“That shouldn’t have been a goal. His foot was in the crease,” Wilson said. “I thought we played really well against Orlando and we should have won that game. We really haven’t been getting any bounces.”
The Swarm have had to stomach tough breaks all season long. That’s difficult for anyone to swallow, even a veteran like Wilson.
“It’s still pretty tough, I’ve got to admit,” he said, in his eighth NLL season. “I want to win – that’s why I play this game.”
After the 13-12 overtime loss against Rochester two weekends ago, Head Coach Mike Lines stressed the importance of Minnesota finding a better second half. Any playoff success will hinge on the team’s ability to play a full 60 minutes, and for Wilson, the time is now. Minnesota failed to make the playoffs last season, so the opportunity will not be taken for granted under the captain’s watch.
“As you get older, you kind of start thinking about how many more chances you’re going to get,” Wilson said. “It’s not that I think that will be anytime soon for me, but as a young guy, you can take it for granted sometimes. I know. I’ve been there. That’s why I try to tell the guys to take advantage of this when you can ."
When Wilson speaks, people tend to listen. He’s been around the block a few times and has some hardware to show for it.
The Kitchener, Ontario native won the Champion’s Cup in 2005 with the Toronto Rock and has captured two Mann Cup Championships in 2008 and 2009 with the Brampton Excelsiors of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Major Series.
He brings a wealth of playoff and locker-room experience with a history of healthy statistics, including 261 goals and 220 assists totaling 481 points spanning 123 games in eight NLL seasons. He’s also tallied 18 points (6g, 12a) in five playoff games.
The Swarm will need Wilson’s presence, on and off the turf, if they want to survive in playoff lacrosse.
“The intensity just picks up. The game becomes faster and every mistake is more costly,” he said. “Every goal is bigger.”
Goals are synonymous with Wilson. Take a look at the books.
The 29-year-old broke the Swarm’s single-season goals record during the third quarter in Boston three weekends ago with his 34th goal of the season. Last Saturday against Orlando, he reached the 40-goal plateau, finishing second in the NLL goals race only behind Washington’s Lewis Ratcliff. The two snipers will face off this Saturday at Comcast Arena at Everett for a 9:30 p.m. CST showdown in the NLL’s first round of playoff action.
Minnesota is 1-1 against the West’s top-ranked Stealth this season but head into the playoffs with a six-game losing streak under their belts.
“Now that we’re here, we’ve got to look at the positives,” he said.
Those positives include contending in every game, developing team chemistry and a couple of career years from Swarm forwards. Wilson, Callum Crawford and Ryan Benesch all posted personal bests and finished in the top 10 of the NLL points race. No other NLL team boasts three players in the top 10.
Tell that to Wilson.
“Doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “Obviously the three of us have had great years when it comes to stats, but the bottom line is that we haven’t got the wins. We’re here to win. That’s why we play this game.”
Minnesota’s regular season may have been a disappointment, but the slate has been wiped clean. The real season begins Saturday night in Washington.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Wilson said. “Three wins. It takes three to win the championship now.”
Fans can watch the game LIVE at 9:30 p.m. CST Saturday night on mnswarm.com with Swarm Vision and can also join the Swarm’s gameday blog powered by CoveritLive for additional insights on the action. Fans not near a computer during the game can text “SWARM TURF” to 91944 to receive halftime and final score updates.
Tag(s): News Center