Saturday night in Delaware, Ohio (about 30 mi. north of Columbus) the Ohio Machine hosted the Florida Launch for the final, and potentially most important, game of the season.
The crowd rolled in thick for Fan Appreciation Night, the final home game of the year, and the spectators likely left feeling that they got exactly what they paid for. Sure there were fireworks after the game, but the real display was put on by the high powered Machine offense.
Florida’s Kieran McArdle was the first to tally a goal on Saturday night but not long after, Roman Lao-Gosney earned a 3-min non-releasable penalty for his illegal stick, something we don’t see often in the MLL. Marcus Holman capitalized on the opportunity with 2 goals for the Machine during the man-up situation giving Ohio their first lead of the ballgame. Dominique Alexander and Peter Baum both also found the back of the net to push Ohio to a 4-1 lead heading in to the 2nd quarter.
David Earl, Steven Brooks and Casey Powell all scored for the Launch in the 2nd but the Machine had plenty of response. Steven Waldeck earned a debatable 1 pointer with Steele Stanwick following with 2 of his own and 1 from Marcus Holman securing his hat trick for the game.
Once again the Launch were the first to score, opening the 3rd quarter on a 3 goal run from McArdle, Brooks and former Buckeye Joe Meuer. An effort from Steele Stanwick finally ended the near 15-minute scoring lull putting Ohio up 9-7 heading in the the final quarter of play.
Marcus Holman found his 4th goal of the game at the beginning of the 4th quarter which officially earned Marcus the goal-scoring title for the 2014 MLL regular season tallying 37 goals in 2014, two goals ahead of teammate Peter Baum and only one ahead of Denver’s Eric Law.
Somehow the Launch managed to get a 3 man advantage in the quarter which McArdle was able to pull Florida back within 2 goals. Kyle Harrison wasn’t digging it and decided to tally one for himself before co-middie Dan Groot punched in back to back goals giving Ohio a more comfortable 12-8 lead about halfway through the final quarter of play.
In the 4th while picking up a routine end line ball, Peter Baum stepped on a different ball off the field and his legs quickly gave out sending Peter to the turf. The crowd was nearly silent and even I had trouble watching the replays as I was sure this wasn’t going to be a shake it off moment. Well, Iron Man was able to shake off the tumble and was right back in the game on the next play much to the crowd’s relief.
The two squads both tallied a few more goals each but it was not nearly enough from Florida to slow the barreling train that is the Ohio Machine. The Machine did the best they could to #OilUp and earn their first trip to the MLL post-season in franchise history.
14-10 read the scoreboard after the final whistle as Marcus Holman sent the ball up in to the dark Ohio skies, the Machine were victors and officially clinched the coveted playoff spot many have only been dreaming of.
According to Ohio State men’s lacrosse coach Nick Myers, the matchup between the Machine and Launch featured the most OSU players in a single game in MLL history as six former Buckeyes took the field. The Machine dressed four Buckeyes in Alexander, face-off man Eric O’Brien, attackman Logan Schuss and defenseman Greg Bice. The Florida roster featured two former OSU players in Meuer and attackman Mario Ventiquattro, who previously played for the Machine.
Considering the team only won 4 games in the first two seasons combined, the fact that they are heading to the playoffs with only 3 other teams says a lot about the Machine front office and the decisions made to revamp the team for 2014. Kyle Harrison and Peter Baum brought exactly what Ohio needed to stop being little brother and to quickly gain the respect as the most dynamic offense in Major League Lacrosse.
The team is riding a 5 game winning streak in to the playoffs and you can be sure that the momentum has not be weakened.
Next Saturday the Machine head to Rochester to take on the Rattlers and a chance to head to the coveted Championship Game in Kennesaw, Georgia! Although Rochester is currently in the MLL’s top spot, the Machine completed the regular season sweep on Rochester winning at home 18-13 and 17-15 in New York! The men have found a way to remain victorious of the Ratz, let’s see if they can hold tight for one more game!
The 2014 MLL Playoffs are set for Saturday, August 16′s two semifinal games. The following Saturday the 2014 MLL Championship Game is set for 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.
Ohio plays Rochester at 3 pm on Saturday while the other matchup will feature the Denver Outlaws vs. the New York Lizards at 5:30.
It’s also worth noting that the Launch’s Kieran McArdle broke the MLL rookie scoring record in the game and he finished the season with 34 goals and 15 assists.
Let’s have a look back at the game, shall we?