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.
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.
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.