PREVIEW ~ Machine Face Rochester In Club’s First Playoff Appearance

By a show of hands, who would categorize Friday as the most shortcoming point in the week?

I hope you raised your hand.

I mean, come on. Trying to complete projects that were started on Monday or Tuesday and wishing to forget sleepy, hair-brained mistakes made on Wednesday, Friday inevitably turns into a psychological, weekend-anticipating world to the point where one almost has to click the heels of his ruby-red slippers together three times to return to reality. On ESPN, “Sportscenter” airs its “Not Top 10” plays of the week, commemorating the mishaps committed by sports professionals, while on the “Tonight Show”, Friday night is a time when Jimmy Fallon “catches up on some personal stuff: checks his inbox, returns some emails, and writes ‘Thank You Notes'” in a weekly, late night segment. Friday is a day not focused on today; a day of reflection on its predecessor’s shortcomings.

Coach Bear Davis Photo courtesy of Andy Long

Coach Bear Davis
Photo courtesy of Andy Long

The Ohio Machine have had two very bad Fridays in their haunted past, or, for illustration’s sake, endings to consecutive 2-12, last-place seasons in Major League Lacrosse. Stuck in a sloshy slump that one doesn’t just hop out of, the Machine were seemingly stuck in the slums of the MLL.

Though, instead of sleeping in their miserable slumber, the Machine used its “weekend”, or the 2013-2014 offseason, for something new: preparation.

Through smart, hard-working moves on the field and in the front office, the club worked its way into 2014 a new-looking team, acquiring major contributors such as midfielder Kyle Harrison and rookie Peter Baum, among other key pieces to a new squad. That, paired with a “never settle”, “oiled-up” mentality, put the Machine in a new spot mentally to prepare them to accomplish multiple feats that have been achieved by the team in 2014, including a club-best 8 wins in the regular season, multiple single-game scoring records, and individual scoring records.

So, it might really matter how one’s Friday and weekend is spent.

For the first time in club history, the Machine will get to spend this literal Friday preparing for the biggest game the club has ever seen: The Major League Lacrosse playoff semifinal against the Rochester Rattlers, a matchup which naturally rids the club of its old label of “short-comers”.

The Machine are now a force to be reckoned with.

Riding a five game winning streak that granted the team its 4th place, final playoff spot a week ago, the Machine are easily the hottest team in the MLL. The club boasts the top scoring offense in the league, headlined by Marcus Holman with the league lead in goals, and, as well, hosts a defense that has vastly improved even upon woes discovered earlier this year. On the winning streak, the defense has allowed a less-than-impressive 75 goals, yet has stepped up in crucial situations to propel the team to victory.

In a grand compilation of the various achievements accomplished by the club this season, the club’s first playoff appearance could not come against a more favorable opponent. The Machine have defeated Rochester two times already in 2014 and can go for the trifecta on Saturday when the two teams take the field.

Alexander pumps his stick in celebration after the score.  Photo by Spenser Hickey - DelawareO.

Alexander pumps his stick in celebration after the score. Photo by Spenser Hickey – DelawareO.

In the teams two meetings, the Machine outscored the Rattlers with a combined 35-28 goal count. Marcus Holman has proved to be a Rattler-killer for the Machine, scoring 11 of the teams total 35 goals. Watch for Holman, who scored 4 goals last week against Florida and leads the league in goals, to make a large impact in Saturday’s matchup. As well, watch for Steele Stanwick, the attackman for the Machine who usually plays behind the net as a “feeder” to other scorers such as Holman, to make a big scoring impact if Rochester pays too much attention to weapons like Holman. Stanwick scored 4 goals and added 2 assists in the teams’ last matchup.

For Rochester, Midfielder Dave Lawson led the charge in the teams’ last matchup, scoring four goals and adding an assist to lead the club. On Saturday, watch for players such as Dana Wilbur, defensiveman for the Machine, to neutralize at least one of the big three offensive contributors, Justin Turri, Jordan Wolf, and Lawson for Rochester in Ohio’s attempt to hold the Rattlers back. In the teams’ last meeting, Wolf, who unexpectedly scored 4 goals and added an assist in the teams’ first meeting, was held to only one goal in the second match just a few weeks ago. Offensive adjustments for Rochester may be the most interesting storyline coming into Saturday’s game, where the first-placed club in Major League Lacrosse will attempt to shake off the uprising Machine.

The game will be played at Rochester in a new MLL playoff twist. This year, semifinal matchups will be played at the higher-ranking opponent’s home turf. This year, fourth-seeded Ohio has a 2-4 record on the road.

So, conclusively, many interesting things will be happening today and this weekend, headlined by the biggest game in Ohio Machine history.

I know I won’t be napping.

Ohio Machine Locks Up the Outlaws: Third Win in a Row

Midfielder Kyle Harrison cradles the ball on his way to drilling the final goal for the Machine

Midfielder Kyle Harrison cradles the ball on his way to drilling the final goal for the Machine. Photo by Spenser Hickey – DelawareO

Saturday, June 26th the Ohio Machine took on the Denver Outlaws, and boy was it an intense game. The first quarter started off pretty sketchy. Eric O’Brien, number 10, from the Machine was up against Anthony Kelly, number 47, from the Outlaws. The first faceoff is always the most dramatic, it sets to tone for the game. Kelly from Outlaws had won the faceoff which soon lead to Chris Bocklet from the Outlaws to score the first goal. Within only a few seconds the Outlaws had managed to score.

 A minute later, Jeremy Sieverts from the Outlaws scored causing the score to be Machine 0 and Outlaws 2. Just as the Outlaws made their third goal, the game started to get interesting. With the score being Machine 0 and Outlaws 3 it starts to pour down along with lightning and a sounds of thunder in the distance.

 The first quarter isn’t even over and the game is delayed. The patient fans waited out the rain and the game continued at 6:02 right on the dot. The time that the Machine was given was the perfect opportunity to pull together as a team.

As the last six minutes of the first quarter tick away, the machine starts to make a comeback. Logan Schuss makes the first goal for the Machine setting the score 1-3. After Schuss’s first goal, the Machine made three more after that bringing the score to 4-3.

 The first quarter ended with the Outlaws making a score in the last six seconds. Which brought the score to a tie, 4-4.

 The start of the second quarter was a lot like the first. O’Brien and Kelly started off the quarter with an intense faceoff. In the end Outlaws won the faceoff which helped the team score causing the score to be 4-5. Outlaws winning by one. Back and forward each team started getting goals.

 With six minutes left in the quarter, Machine player Chad Wiedmaier was given a penalty for holding and had to sit out for a minute. The score is Machine 9 and Outlaws 10. In less than two minutes the Outlaws score two more goals leaving the second quarter with the Outlaws winning, 9-12.

 The second quarter was the Outlaws quarter, but the Machine owned the third quarter.

Machine Midfielder Dominique Alexander fires the Machine's 12th goal. Photo by Spenser Hickey - DelawareO

Machine Midfielder Dominique Alexander fires the Machine’s 12th goal. Photo by Spenser Hickey – DelawareO

 The third quarter started off exactly like the first and second did, the Outlaws won the faceoffs and scored the first goal of the quarter. The Outlaws then scored another goal which caused some drama on the field. The Machine challenged the Outlaws which left the final decision to the refs. After waiting for two minutes, the refs decided to give the Outlaws the point.

 The score is 9-14. Outlaws are winning. The machine is down my five. During the quarter the Machine made a great comback and scored a total of seven goals while the Outlaws scored five goals this quarter.

 At the end of the quarter the score was Machine 16 and Outlaws 17. This is the point in the game where it gets really intense. There’s one quarter left in the game and a lot can happen in just one quarter. The crowd gets anxious and excited and that’s when the players feed off of the crowd.

 “It’s always nice to get extra energy from the crowd.” said head coach Bear Davis.

 This crowd was really getting into the game. They chanted the player’s names, chanted on the defense and even booed some of the calls the refs made. This really gets the players going, it helps them amp up and get into the zone.

 “We love the crowd,” said O’Brien. “It rained and everyone could have left. But they stuck around. A big thanks to all of the Delaware fans.”

Click here to see more Machine Game Day Photos.

 The fourth quarter started out like the other quarters. Outlaws won the faceoff and scored the first goal. Only a few minutes into the game number 91 from the Outlaws, Dillon Roy, is on the ground. The penalty is given to Machine player number 10, Eric O’Brien for crosscheck.

 After the penalty, the machine scores two more goals brings the score to 18-18. Both teams score back and forward. First the Outlaws score, then the Machine then the Outlaws then the machine. In the last twenty seconds, the Machine and Outlaws are tied. 22-22.

 The tie means overtime.

 This is the second game in a row where the Machine goes into overtime. The crowd is on their feet, screaming and chanting for the Machine. “Defense. Defense.” The crowd chants, almost shaking the stadium.

A flag is thrown, one of many in a tightly fought game. Photo by Spenser Hickey - DelawareO

A flag is thrown, one of many in a tightly fought game. Photo by Spenser Hickey – DelawareO

 “Offense stepped it up and so did defense,” said O’Brien. “Our number two in overtime.”

 There’s a twist of events. The machine wins the faceoff, all thanks to Midfield player number 36, Bobby Dattilo. It’s an intense few minutes, first the Machine has the ball and then Outlaws take it and try to shoot. The crowd continues to chant, “Defense! Defense!”.

 The clock reads 8:15 when Kyle Harrison, number 18 for the Ohio Machine scores the winning goal. The final score is 23-22. The Machine have won their third game in a row.

 “I think we’re unbeatable right now.” said O’Brien.

 This game was not only intense but was also the highest scoring game of the season for the Machine players.

 “It was just a crazy game.” said team captain, Steele Stanwick. After missing the past two games, Stanwick was happy to be back and playing with his team. This was Stanwick’s game. He scored three goals and had several assists. “This is our first time beating the Outlaws, Stanwick says. “I’ve been here since year one and to see this kind of transition is amazing.”

The Machine will be playing against the Rochester Rattlers on August 2nd for their last away game of the season. Best of luck to the Machine players! Oil up!

Hungry Machine Topple Rochester

Photo Andy Long.

Photo Andy Long.

“It’ll be interesting explosive either way!”

What an understatement!

Going into this week’s match versus Rochester and throughout a week of practice, questions lingered in the balance as to what exactly was going wrong with a team that had one of the highest goals scored/goals allowed ratio in the MLL, meanwhile sitting with four losses on the year. This, people believed, was the team that could break the Machine’s status quo of mediocrity, and increased pressure went on the players this week to deliver. Answering those calls of fans and coaches for more professional playing and maturation, the Ohio Machine steamrolled the visiting Rochester Rattlers by a score of 18-13 in front of 2,221 eager onlookers at Selby Stadium on Saturday night.

Echoing his battle cry all season, Coach Bear Davis needed the team to be “hungry” for a win. “We had to play faster. We had to play scrappier. We had to play a bit more hungry, and the guys knew that.”

Photo Andy Long.

Photo Andy Long.

And hungry they were. Marcus Hollman and Peter Baum tallied five goals for the Machine, while mainstay offensive force Logan Schuss added four goals to make for an offensive explosion. On the night, the Machine scored 18 goals, the most scored in club history, against a defense in Rochester that allowed just seven goals a week before and a goalie (John Galloway) that is scheduled to play for Team USA. In fact, the Machine shattered the previous record of 16 goals which was tied just the game before against Boston. Along with this record, the Machine offense broke the stereotype created themselves that they are nothing special. Scoring 18 goals on 34 shots on goal (and 15 shots off goal), creating a solid (total) 31% shot percentage, the Machine offense showed that they are a force to be reckoned with in the MLL.

As well, the club showed extreme patience and finesse on the teams’ 3 power plays, chugging out a 67% conversion percentage while scoring in two of the opportunities, and also picked up 28 ground balls on the night.

Photo Andy Long.

Photo Andy Long.

“Offensively speaking, we’re playing unselfish. You know, there’s only one ball out there. There’s six guys and one ball. So, you’ve got to move the rock out there, and we’re shooting the ball well. So we’re trying to keep it rolling here,” exclaimed attackman Marcus Hollman after the win.
Though, the offense wasn’t the only aspect of the Machine’s game that stood out. The Machine defense showed extreme and rather unseen maturation, tenacity, and speed in the match, allowing a meager 4 goals to Rochester in the second half. Meanwhile, goalie Brian Phipps was awarded the win, making 16 saves off of 39 shots on goal. The decision to start Phipps over previously-starting Scott Rodgers and face-off man Eric O’Brien, who had a 41% (13-32) completion percentage on face-offs, was a rather simple one for coach Davis.

“Phipps had a good second half last week, so we thought we’d give him the nod to start this week. And O’Brien has had good stats overall, so we went with him.”
Although With a rather lackluster first half, in which the team allowed 9 goals and almost unanimous domination by Rochester, the Machine looked to turn it around in the second half. Many players made a big impact in the second half, like Marcus Hollman, who added all five of his goals in the last two quarters, or the defense, who guarded the middle of the field noticeably with more control and handled themselves like a well-oiled machine starting after halftime. Though, more than anyone, O’Brien played a big role in the team’s turnaround at lacrosse’s “line of scrimmage” — the face off.

Photo Andy Long.

Photo Andy Long.

Starting off slowly, his lack of face off wins allowed for the tip of the iceberg in the first half. Rochester, getting most of the initial possessions, were able to control the speed of the game and time of possession, something that really hurt the Machine defense. The methodical style of the Rattlers offense dissected the Machine defense, making them look slow and susceptible to easy domination. Right in front of the goalie circle, the middle of the field was openly penetrated by Rochester, and the mix of zone and man-to-man defensive looks didn’t seem to help the Machine. In turn, the offense was burdened by this domino effect, being very hasty and uncharacteristically unwise in passing choices and shot selection. The Machine were able to hold their own through the first half, but they had their backs in the corner going into halftime.

But then everything changed. The Machine came out with fire in their bellies, and Kyle Harrison started the brigade with a goal 50 seconds in, coming off of a face off win by Eric O’Brien.

Noticeably more scrappy and faster, the Machine’s second half effort started with O’Brien. Most of his face off wins came as a product of diving for balls, getting scrappy, and leaving it all on the field. With that came smart play, and with smart play came unity and comfortability, which were the ingredients the Machine took en route to accomplishing the biggest third quarter in club history, scoring seven goals. The tide changed drastically, and the Machine and O’Brien were achieving what they set out to do — win.

Photo Andy Long.

Photo Andy Long.

“I’ve got to figure out my first quarters. Obviously I made everyone sweat and really struggle,” O’Brien explained. “But, like coach said, I really left my brain at home in the second through fourth quarters and really just had fun and played lacrosse. You know, this is a big one for our team.”
Rochester rookie Jordan Wolf made a big dent in his MLL premier, leading his team with five goals. Additionally, Team USA goalie John Galloway earned the loss in front of the net, knotting 16 saves on 34 shots on goal. John Ortolani and the Rattlers won the overall face off battle against the Machine, earning 20 out of 34 attempts to his name.

The Machine will look to hold onto its momentum heading into next week’s pivotal matchup against the Boston Cannons. With the win this week against Rochester, the Machine now sits even with Boston with a 3-4 record, with Boston holding the coveted 4th place because of the tiebreaker win at Selby Stadium just a week ago. A Machine win would bolster them into playoff position and give the team the ability to control their own destiny headed toward the end of the season. Boston holds a 4-0 series lead against the Machine.

“It’s going to be a little redemption for us. We come out with these big wins by four or five goals, and then we don’t necessarily carry it into the next week. So, we really have to focus Sunday through Friday here, and then go into Boston focused, and really remember what happened here today in the second half and bring that out in the first half against Boston and get up by a couple goals. You can’t start out slow. That was a real crappy first half, and in this league its hard to come back, but tonight we were fortunate enough to come back and win big.”

The Machine @ Boston will be broadcasted live from Harvard Stadium in Boston on the MLL Network at 8 p.m. next Saturday, June 21st.

Ohio Machine Announces 2014 Roster, Names Captains

Bice, Harrison, Phipps and Stanwick Named Captains

The Ohio Machine (Machine), Ohio’s professional lacrosse team in Major League Lacrosse (MLL), announced today its 2014 regular season roster ahead of the team’s first game against Charlotte on Saturday, April 26.

The 2014 roster consists of three goalies, nine defenders, 16 midfielders and five attackmen. Additionally, defenseman Greg Bice, midfielder Kyle Harrison, attackman Steele Stanwick and goalie Brian Phipps were named team captains for 2014.

“Our captains for 2014 are a good mix of veterans and young guys that all share the same vision of where this team needs to be,” Head Coach Bear Davis said. “Bice and Harrison have seen success and failures at the highest levels so our young guys will learn a lot from them. It is also great to have leaders like Steele and Phipps. They have both led teams as players and are now leading teams as coaches at the collegiate level.”

“It’s an honor to be named a captain of this team,” Phipps said. “We have a great group of talented guys that are ready to form a new identity in the league. Our team has developed a great relationship off the field and is excited to get the season started this week.”

“I’m really humbled and honored to be named a captain on a team full of amazing leaders,” Stanwick said. “I know everyone is looking forward to the season with this great group of guys.”

The Machine welcomes back 23 players from the 2013 roster including leading scorer Logan Schuss and standout rookie Marcus Holman. Additionally, the 2014 roster includes seven former Buckeye lacrosse players with defensemen Greg Bice and Matt Cafarelli, midfielders Dominique Alexander and Kevin Mack, attackman Logan Schuss, face-off specialist Eric O’Brien and goalkeeper Stefan Schroder.

“I am honored to be a named captain of the 2014 Machine team,” Bice said. “We have a great group of guys and I expect big things out of this team.”

The Machine added nine new players to its roster, including former Tewaaraton Award winners Peter Baum and Kyle Harrison. Baum was drafted first overall by the Machine in 2013 and participated on the LXMPRO Tour last season. Harrison, who was named to Team USA for the 2014 World Championships, also played on the LXMPRO Tour. The Machine also added former MLL All-Stars in Matt Dolente, Brian Farrell and Bill McGlone.

“I am humbled that my teammates have given me the honor of serving as one the captains for the Machine in 2014,” Harrison said. “Our team came together really well over training camp and we are looking forward to taking this team to the next level on the field this season.”

The Machine opens up its season on Saturday, April 26 when the team visits the Charlotte Hounds. The Machine’s home opener is on Saturday, May 17, against the New York Lizards. The “OSU Sports Medicine Night” Home Opener will include an OSU seat cushion and 2014 poster giveaway, as well as a post-game fireworks show. Tickets start at $12 for General Admission and $18 for Sideline Reserved.

Full season, half season, flex plan and single game tickets for the Machine’s 2014 season are now on sale. Season tickets to the Machine’s 2014 season range from General Admission at $92 to a Field Level Box at $2,400 and include seven regular season home games plus a 2014 MLL playoff game. Information on 2014 Machine tickets can be found at www.theohiomachine.com/tickets.

ACTIVE ROSTER

NUMBER. NAME, POSITION, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, COLLEGE, YEAR PRO

23 Dominique Alexander M 6-2 215 Ohio State 1
 15 Peter Baum M 6-1 185 Colgate 0
 3 Jake Bernhardt M 6-0 190 Maryland 1
 44 Greg Bice D 6-3 215 Ohio State 10
 32 Chase Carraro M 5-8 170 Denver 1
 21 Jim Connolly A 5-11 175 Massachusetts 3
 40 Kevin Cooper M 6-4 190 Maryland 1
 36 Bobby Dattilo M 5-7 175 Hobart 2
 19 Matt Dolente M 5-7 165 Johns Hopkins 3
 24 Greg Downing M 6-1 195 Fairfield 7
 37 Brian Farrell D 6-5 240 Maryland 3
 18 Kyle Harrison M 6-0 194 Johns Hopkins 6
 1 Marcus Holman A 5-11 185 North Carolina 1
 25 Jordan Houtby M 6-3 180 Detroit-Mercy 0
 35 Erik Krum A 5-10 190 Salisbury 0 7
7 Chris Lightner D 6-2 205 Johns Hopkins 1
 88 Connor Martin M 6-1 180 Chapman 4
 46 Kiel Matisz M 6-5 215 Robert Morris 2
 33 Bill McGlone M 6-2 210 Maryland 8
 10 Eric O’Brien M 6-3 220 Ohio State 3
 30 Brian Phipps G 5-9 185 Maryland 3
 42 Scott Rodgers G 6-4 250 Notre Dame 4
 8 Max Schmidt D 6-4 230 Maryland 2
 9 Stefan Schroder G 6-1 180 Ohio State 3
 20 Logan Schuss A 6-0 210 Ohio State 1
 6 Steele Stanwick A 5-10 190 Virginia 2
 55 Chad Wiedmaier D 6-1 200 Princeton 2
 91 Dana Wilber D 6-0 190 Drexel 2
 
PRACTICE SQUAD:
 
NUMBER. NAME, POSITION, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, COLLEGE, YEAR PRO
 
41 Matt Cafarelli D 6-5 220 Ohio State 2
 27 James Delaney A 5-8 175 Seton Hill 0
4 Kevin Mack M 5-10 175 Ohio State 1
 48 Matt Silvia D 6-1 195 Bellarmine 2
 
 
 
PUP LIST:
 
NUMBER. NAME, POSITION, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, COLLEGE, YEAR PRO
 
 28 Marshall Burkhart M 6-1 200 Johns Hopkins 2
 7 Ryan Nizolek D 6-2 217 Virginia 3
 
 
Source: Machine Press Release.