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GAME PREVIEW: Machine at Hounds

March 19, 2016
Game Details
Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Stadium: American Legion Memorial Stadium
Face-off: 7 p.m. (EST)
Series: Charlotte leads 4-0
TV: SportsTime Ohio (8 p.m.)
Live: ESPN3
Twitter: @MachineMLL, @MachineGameDay

The Ohio Machine kicks off the 2014 Major League Lacrosse season this Saturday when the team travels to Charlotte to face the Hounds. Face-off is set for 7 p.m. For the Machine, an off season full of roster additions has the team buzzing heading into its first game of the season.

“Overall we achieved all of the things we wanted to do in the offseason and that was to get more balance at all positions,” Head Coach Bear Davis said. “We addressed those issues and you could see that in training camp.”

The Machine returns 23 players from last season’s team, including Greg Bice, Marcus Holman, Brian Phipps, Logan Schuss and Steele Stanwick. Last season, a core group of rookies and second year players carried the load offensively for the team. Schuss led the team in scoring as a rookie. Holman finished fourth on the team in scoring his rookie season, while Stanwick led the team in assists for a second consecutive year.

“It’s hard to sometimes judge a team when you are putting the ball in the hands of such young guys like we did last year,” Davis said. “Last season we relied on a big group of rookies and to see the strides that guys like Marcus Holman, Jake Bernhardt and Dominique Alexander made, it was a pleasant surprise to see how confidently they played in camp.”

In addition to the returning players, the Machine added nine new players to its roster, including former Tewaaraton Award winners Peter Baum and Kyle Harrison.

“We’re a little different in our matchups this year,” Davis said of the new look roster. “We’re walking into gun fights this year with guns instead of knives.”

After holding training camp in Columbus the first two weekends of the month, the Machine is eager to hit the field for the first time this season. The team starts the season with three straight road games before returning to Ohio for its home opener on May 17 against the New York Lizards.

“Our guys are ready,” Davis said. “We talked about going into the first couple weeks just staying focused on what we need to do as a team. We feel great about the continuity we’ve developed and we have something to prove this year.”

The game against Charlotte marks the first full season for the Machine with Davis at the helm, after taking over the team nine games into the 2013 campaign. Under Davis, the Machine’s offense took off as the team increased its goals, goals per game, assists, points and power play percentage from the first eight games of last season. But after finishing strong down the stretch last season, the team is focused on starting hot in 2014.

“We’re going to approach this game like it’s the championship, every game needs to be like that,” Davis explained. “I really don’t see any other way to approach a game. We are going to take our guys and put them in the best position to win. Early games can come back to haunt you later in the season so you need to come out firing ready to go.”