Players, coaches, and staff, all laid out a challenge to Machine fans coming into Saturday’s game, and they accepted. Fans packed Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio Saturday night for the final home matchup between their Ohio Machine and the visiting Florida Launch. The ecstatic crowd knew exactly what was on the line; win and in to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
If you’re not going to be at the @MachineMLL game today, just admit that you hate sports. And fun. And probably freedom & puppies, too.
— John Algie (@AlgieJohn) August 9, 2014
The Ohio Machine punched their ticket to the 2014 Major League Lacrosse playoffs with a 14-10 victory over the Launch to close out the regular season.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Machine were riding a four-game winning streak including two tough overtime wins at home against the Charlotte Hounds and the Denver Outlaws, and sweeps of both the defending MLL champion Chesapeake Bayhawks and the previously unbeaten at home Rochester Rattlers. The fans were out in full force to help keep this streak alive.
Although the Launch had been knocked out of playoff contention with the Machine’s win over the Rattlers the week prior, they could still play the role of the spoiler in the final game of the season.
Florida came out firing as attackman Kieran McArdle started the night off with the first goal of the game. The Machine claimed the quarter as attackman Marcus Holman added two goals to capitalize on Roman Lao-Gosney three minute non-releasable personal foul for an illegal stick. Rounding out the quarter were goals from midfielders Dominique Alexander and Peter Baum to give the Machine a 4-1 advantage at the end of one.
Florida struck first to open the second as David Earl tailed one before defenseman Steven Waldeck added one of his own from just under 2-point range for the Machine. Florida came charging back with a goal from Casey Powell as Ohio headed into a man-down situation. The Machine were able to hold off the Launch powerplay and responded with goals from both attackman Steele Stanwick and Holman making it 7-3 in favor of Ohio. With a minute left Steven Brooks and Stanwick traded goals to make it 8-4 Ohio going into the half.
At half, fans enjoyed the events of Fan Appreciation Day and were reenergized to start the second half.
The Launch claimed the third quarter as they opened with a three-goal run as McArdle and Brooks both tailed their second followed by a goal from defenseman Joe Meuer to bring Florida within one. Toward the end of the quarter Stanwick was able to snap the Machine drought to bring the Ohio lead to 9-7 before the final 15 minutes.
The Machine struck first to open up the fourth with a goal from Holman giving him six on the day. Florida answered back with a goal from McArdle on three-man advantage powerplay. Scoring came again for the Machine with back-to-back goals from midfielders Kyle Harrison and Dan Groot to bring the lead to 12-8. Florida was able to score two more goals before time expired but Ohio help on with Baum scoring the final goal before Holman ran out the clock ending the game at 14-10. Fans were on their feet for those final seconds as Holman launched the ball into the air when the final whistle blew.
The energy in the stadium between both the players and the fans was nothing short of electrifying as the post-game fireworks lit up the night sky. Fans made their way down towards the field to congratulate the team and get autographs from their favorite players. Coach Bear Davis enjoyed a victorious ice water bath from a few of the players as he soaked in the historic moment.
Strong goalie play from both teams as Brian Phipps ended the game with eight saves for the Machine while only allowing 10 goals. Launch goalie Adam Fullerton ended with 17 saves on 31 shots on goal.
At the face-off ‘x’, Bobby Dattilo led the Machine going eight-of-14and picking up six groundballs.
The scoring charge for the Machine was led by Holman with four goals which earned him the goal-scoring title for the 2014 MLL season. Following was Stanwick with three and Baum with two from the midfield and a team leading four assists.
The Florida scoring charge was led by McArdle with three goals and Brooks with two. McArdle broke the MLL rookie scoring record with his goal to open the game and ended the season with a total of 34 goals and 15 assists for 49 total points.
The first round of the 2014 playoffs are slated to begin today, Saturday, August 16.
The playoffs consist of two semifinal games before the championship game in Kennesaw, GA on August 23 at 7 p.m.
The Machine will travel to Rochester for the second time in three weeks for their playoff game beginning at 3 p.m. The Machine will look to get their third victory over the Rattlers this season.
The second semifinal matchup between the Denver Outlaws and New York Lizards will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Peter Barton Stadium at the University of Denver.
Be sure to catch all of this week’s action on CBS Sports Network. Whether watching at home, or making the trip to New York, be sure to help cheer the Machine on and get them to Atlanta!