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Two Dragons: the Machine's Dynamic Face-Off Duo

March 19, 2016
While the typical lacrosse team employs just one face-off specialist, the Ohio Machine has gone with two in 2014, and it’s paid off.

Both Bobby Dattilo and Eric O’Brien rank in the top 10 in Major League Lacrosse in face-off percentage this season, and it has helped drive the Machine to a 7-6 record and onto the brink of the playoffs. Dattilo currently sits at third in the league with a .532 face-off percentage while O’Brien is ninth at .483.

O’Brien is the most prolific face-off man in Machine history, totaling 336 wins on 762 attempts. Dattilo is the most efficient FO-GO in club history with his .532 percentage in his first season with the Machine.

The duo combined for the club’s best-ever day at the midfield X July 26 when Ohio beat the Denver Outlaws 23-22 at Selby Stadium. Dattilo and O’Brien combined to go 31-of-46 on face-offs, which set the club record for both wins and attempts in a game. The .674 win percentage is also a club record. Dattilo went 19-of-25 on his own for a .760 percentage, which is the second-best individual performance for a Machine player.

While they have meshed will together on the field this season, Dattilo and O’Brien took very different paths to the Machine.

O’Brien, a 6-foot, 3-inch 220 pound physical presence, is a Columbus native who picked up 11 varsity letters in golf, hockey and lacrosse while at St. Charles Preparatory School. He went on to play four seasons at the Ohio State University where he led the Buckeyes in face-off wins from 2005-07. O’Brien went on to play in one game for the San Francisco Dragons in 2007, totaling six wins on 12 face-offs and two ground balls.

For the next four seasons, O’Brien was out of Major League Lacrosse. The Machine gave him a chance back in the league by taking him in the 16th round of the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft, and he has been a near constant at face-off for Ohio ever since.

Dattilo hails from Derry, N.H., where he attended the Pinkerton Academy before moving on to play lacrosse at Hobart. He was named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list as a senior before going 162-of-250 to lead the team. Dattilo added on one goal and four assists in 2012 before the Rochester Rattlers selected him 25th overall in the MLL Collegiate Draft.

The 5-foot, 6-inch Dattilo went 28-of-53 on face-offs as a rookie and added one assist, but made just one appearance for the Rattlers in his second season. The Machine made him the 41st overall pick in the 2014 MLL Supplemental Draft, but he started the season down the pecking order behind O’Brien and Matt Dolente.

Dattilo finally got his chance ­against Boston on June 6 and went 12-of-21 at the X. Since then, he has been a key contributor to Ohio’s playoff run with his face-offs while also chipping in with four goals. Dattilo even set the club record for ground balls in a game with 12 in Ohio’s July 26 win against Denver.

The two dragons and the Machine returns to Selby Stadium for Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday, August 9 when the team takes on the Florida Launch at 7 p.m. Click  HERE for more information about Fan Appreciation Night.

Help the Machine oil up for the playoffs and get your tickets now! To purchase your tickets, click  HERE or call 614-754-1973.