BUILDING THE ‘D’: SWANS DEFENSE TAKING SHAPE

BUILDING THE ‘D’: SWANS DEFENSE TAKING SHAPE

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Austen Kugler (#9) lowers the boom, with Benjamin Walker in pursuit of the fumble, July 8 vs Ft. Lauderdale. PHOTO; Katherine Matson

While the results may not yet be apparent on the ladder, the progress of the St. Pete Swans’ defensive development may yet tell the tale of the 2017 campaign.

Last season, St. Petersburg relied on an explosive offense that

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St. Petersburg 2016 ROY Austen Kugler applies the tackle in Ft. Lauderdale, July 8. PHOTO: Katherine Matson.

has yet to find its form in 2017, forcing the backliners to step up.

So far, the group has responded, as the Swans have tightened up over the past month, yielding less than 60 points in their last four matches.

With new recruits Jeremy Tartt joining with vets Kenneth Scheidt and Benjamin Walker; improved tackling from 2016 ROY Austen Kugler and others, the defense has given St. Pete chances to stay close to opponents in three consecutive road matches.

Although the backline sorely misses the presence of defensive stalwart Jason Kofender (shoulder), and is also hampered with Jake Keglor (neck) also shaking off imjury, there are signs the defense can carry the club until the yips on offense have passed.

Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale, the Swans fell behind by 14 points just moments into the game, as the Squids’ came out with pressure and controlled general play from the start.

From there, though, the defense was able to regain its bearings, limiting the hosts to just 25 points the rest of the way before a late flurry turned back St. Pete’s nascent comeback attempt.

With Interim Coach Matt Elliott making adjustments that saw Walker move to ruck, the St. Petersburg defensive effort gelled just a bit late on the day, but shows encouraging signs.

Should the club find a way to put the pieces together as the offense finds its legs, credit will go to a tenacious, hard-working defense that’s been holding down the fort to this point.

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