By Kyle Bennett
The National Lacrosse League is BACK in South Philly. For the first time since March 7, 2020, the Philadelphia Wings will host a lacrosse game at the Wells Fargo Center as they host the newest expansion franchise in the NLL, Panther City Lacrosse Club.
The Wings made a ton of moves during the elongated offseason to improve their roster under reigning GM/Head Coach of the Year Paul Day. Corey Small, Ben McIntosh, John Ranagan, Alex Crepinsek, Brock Sorensen (PUP-List), and Angus Goodleaf are amongst the new veterans on this roster that is built to win an NLL title.
The Wings will see some familiar friends in this matchup as former Assistant Coach Tracey Kelusky, now the Head Coach for Panther City, makes his return to Philadelphia along with Liam Byrnes and Liam Patten, two former members of this Wings squad under Paul Day.
The home floor advantage that Philadelphia has at the Wells Fargo Center is one of the best in the league and should help play a part in this matchup against the NLL's newest team. With Brock Sorensen out for this game, I'm looking for the original defensive core for Philadelphia, Anthony Joaquim, Ryan Wagner, and Steph Charbonneau, to take another step forward as a unit in front of goalie Zach Higgins. The Wings offense speaks for itself and as Ben McIntosh told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, he expects a ring on his finger at the end of the season.
For Panther City, look for Connor Kelly to continue his box lacrosse development in yet another new city for the former Maryland star. Kelly has played for San Diego, New York, and now Panther City in his young NLL career.
The battle at the stripe will be one that's key for both teams as Trevor Baptiste will take face offs against Jeremy Thompson. These two were teammates for a bit in the Premier Lacrosse League with Atlas LC and Thompson is one of the best transition players the NLL has ever seen. Baptiste will look to continue proving why a star face off athlete is critical for all roster in the NLL and will look to keep setting new precedents for the position.
A team with title aspirations and a brand new franchise. The NLL is back and we're set for an electric season in the National Lacrosse League.