The Ohio Machine clinched a berth in the 2014 Major League Lacrosse playoffs with its 14-10 win against the Florida Launch Saturday night at Selby Stadium.
Ohio (8-6) used a five-game winning streak to end the regular season to clinch its first-ever playoff appearance. The run included two hard-fought overtime wins at Selby Stadium and a 17-15 road win against the Rochester Rattlers, who had previously been undefeated at home.
The Machine will take on the Rattlers one more time next weekend in Rochester in the first round of the playoffs.
The winning streak was polished off with Ohio’s win against Florida, which came with Machine attackman Marcus Holman clinching the 2014 MLL goal-scoring title.
“It feels great. We set our goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs and we’re here now,” Holman said after the win. “But I don’t think anybody in this organization is satisfied. We want to get a win next week in Rochester.”
Even though the Machine clinched the fourth and final playoff spot, Head Coach Bear Davis said his team couldn’t care less about seeding or playoff matchups. He said Ohio is ready to make a statement over the next two weeks.
“I think we want to kick the door down and say, ‘hey, here we are, we’re going to be a player in this,’ Davis said. “I don’t think the seed matters in our mind, we just want to go in and play.”
Florida attackman Kieran McArdle opened the scoring Saturday night before Launch midfielder Roman Lao-Gosney received a three minute non-releasable personal foul for an illegal stick. Machine attackman Marcus Holman responded with two goals on the ensuing powerplay to give Ohio the lead. Midfielders Dominique Alexander and Peter Baum added a goal each to give Ohio a 4-1 lead to end the quarter.
The Launch’ David Earl opened the scoring in the second quarter, but Ohio defenseman Steven Waldeck added a goal of his with his leading foot barely touching the 2-point arc. After a Florida goal from Casey Powell, the Machine killed a penalty and attackman Steele Stanwick and Holman each added goals to give the Machine a 7-3 lead. Florida’s Steven Brooks and Stanwick each scored in the final minute to make it 8-4 in favor of Ohio at the half.
The Launch opened the third quarter three-goal run when McArdle and Brooks each added their second before Florida defenseman Joe Meuer brought his team within one. Stanwick ended the Machine’s nearly 15-minute scoring drought to give Ohio a 9-7 lead heading into the final quarter.
Holman scored his fourth of the game to open the final quarter, giving him the goal-scoring title for the 2014 MLL season. McArdle brought Florida back within two on a three-man advantage for the Launch. Machine midfielders Kyle Harrison and Dan Groot added back-to-back goals to give Ohio a 12-8 lead with less than seven minutes to play.
The Machine and Launch traded two goals each as the clock ticked down, but Ohio did more than enough to come out with the four-goal victory and a trip to the playoffs.
“Our players and coaching staff have all worked so hard this year to get to where we are today,” Machine President & General Manager John Algie said. “Our fans have been great, sticking with us the entire time. Now we’re ready to head to the playoffs and try to get two more wins and bring a championship back to Ohio.”
Holman led the team with four goals while Stanwick added three and midfielder Peter Baum finished with two. Baum also led the team with four assists on the night.
Machine goalie Brian Phipps tallied eight saves, but only allowed 10 goals form the Launch, and made six of his eight saves in a key fourth-quarter stand. Face-off man Bobby Dattilo led the team by going eight-of-14 at the midfield X and picked up six groundballs.
McArdle’s three goals and Brooks’ pair of tallies led the Launch. Goalie Adam Fullerton had 17 saves on 31 shots on goal for Florida in the loss.
McArdle broke the MLL rookie scoring record with his first-quarter goal and finished the game with four total points. His final season numbers were 34 goals and 15 assists for a total of 49 points.
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.
The 2014 MLL Playoffs are scheduled to begin Saturday, August 16 with two semifinal games. The first semifinal will start at 3 p.m. with the second facing off at 5:30 p.m. The 2014 MLL Championship Game is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.
The other semifinal matchup will be between the Denver Outlaws and New York Lizards.