When you get drafted by a team that already has Lyle and Miles Thompson, Shayne Jackson, Randy Staats, Jesse King, Kiel Matisz and Johnny Powless, it's going to be tough to crack the offensive unit.
That's the situation former Silver Creek lacrosse star Zed Williams was thrown in when he was selected fourth overall by the reigning National Lacrosse League champion Georgia Swarm in September. He responded the only way he could -- by adapting to a new role.
Williams has been pushed primarily to the back door despite spending most of his box career as a forward and his field career as an attackman. He's a defenseman for the 3-3 Swarm, who play the Bandits Saturday night on the back end of a two-game weekend for the Bandits. Buffalo faces New England on the road Friday at 7:30 p.m. before returning home to battle Georgia on Saturday at the same time.
"It's an adjustment, but I can handle it," Williams said. "I can never stop learning. I'm getting better every game. ... I'm more than capable of playing defense at this level, but it's a matter of getting reps."
He said the biggest adjustment was the mental facets of the game, learning where to be and at what time. He struggled at the start with pick-and-roll plays, a staple in indoor lacrosse, but has improved as the season has gone along. He's suited up in all six of the Swarm's games this season.
The Georgia staff obviously thought highly of the three-time first-team All-Western New Yorker, selecting Williams higher in the draft than many projected he'd go. The team saw from his time with the University of Virginia and the Native Sons Senior B team that he had the diverse skill set to compliment an already stacked roster.
“We really looked at trying to get some players that can bring versatility,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau told the Gwinnett Daily Post following the draft. “Zed is a guy who scores goals but can also play out the back door and on faceoff. We really like the versatility that he can bring, a guy that we think can step in and compete for a roster spot right off the bat.”
He has gotten some runs on offense, getting a look once or twice a game. He's eighth on the team in goals with three, scoring his first on Dec. 23 against the Colorado Mammoth, and also has two assists. If he can nail down his job on the defensive end, he provides unique transition abilities with the offensive skills he possesses.
"It's one more asset I can add to my game," Williams said. "I can just keep getting better as an overall player. ... I feel like I can do anything the team asks me to and I can do it at a good level."
Saturday night Williams will play his first game in Buffalo, as the Swarm visit a Bandits team coming off two straight victories.
"My family gets to come up," Williams said. "I'm mostly excited about that, to play for them."
The Georgia matchup is the second game in a crucial weekend for the Bandits, who look to return to the playoffs after finishing last in the league last season. Buffalo sits in third in the East Division, the final playoff spot, as the team enters Week 10 of the season. However, that can change quickly with the Black Wolves sitting a half game ahead of Buffalo and Georgia a half game behind the Bandits.