The Philadelphia Wings like where they are.
They are second in the East Division of the National Lacrosse League with a 5-3 record, with two of their remaining 10 games against first-place New England.
The Wings’ 12-6 season-opening loss to Georgia is the only time they’ve been out of a game. Their other losses were each by one goal, while they’ve dominated in their wins.
All team goals are within reach. Head coach Paul Day preaches a game-by-game approach, and the team hopes that mindset will lead to a playoff berth.
“I think we’re a lot like Philadelphia,” Day said last month. “We play hard, we play fast.”
Continuity has been an important factor this season. Key players including Brett Hickey, Kevin Crowley, Trevor Baptiste, and Zach Higgins returned this year. A veteran squad that finished 4-14 last season and was outscored by 28 goals now is second in the league with a goal differential of plus-20.
“Last year was a disappointment for us, but we put in a lot of principles and foundations that we’re building on this year,” Hickey said.
Hickey and Crowley have been the offensive leaders. Hickey is seventh in the league with 17 goals, and Crowley has 15. Crowley also is a dangerous passer, ranking sixth in the league with 42 points.
Crowley said that Hickey has been "unreal lately, shooting the lights out. I played with him in 2015. He had 51 goals that year, and it was just pass the ball to Hickey, and it looks like it’s turning into that this year, too.”
The defense is led by Higgins in goal. He has erased defensive mistakes, ranking third in the league with 335 saves. Baptiste and the defenders have done a solid job of forcing tough shots, but when they get beat, they have Higgins guarding the net.
“He’s been a lifesaver for us, and he lets us play a little more loose,” Baptiste said.
But there is still a lot to work on. The Wings are aiming to consistently put together complete performances. They struggled in the fourth quarter against Georgia and New York and went scoreless in the fourth and overtime periods against New England.
Back-to-back road games against Buffalo and New England this weekend will impact the Wings’ playoff position.