Heading into the 2012 Major League Lacrosse Expansion Draft the Ohio Machine already had a core group of players, but with 10 picks in the draft the team continued to build upon an already impressive inaugural season roster.
The team’s first draft pick was former Denver Outlaws attackman Connor Martin (3rd overall). While with the Outlaws, Martin scored 17 points (13G 4A) over a span of just seven games, averaging 2.4 points per game.
Martin made an immediate impact with the Machine scoring a career high 23 goals and seven assists despite changing from attack to midfield during the year. “He had an impressive year and it was great to see him excel,” said Ohio Machine rookie attackman Steele Stanwick. “He’s very athletic and it was fun to see him settle down and come into his own.”
The Machine also drafted another player that had an outstanding 2012 season with the Machine – former Boston Cannons attackman Jim Connolly. Connolly had only played two games with the Cannons, but Machine Head Coach Ted Garber knew he was getting a dynamic player to pair with Connor Martin. “I coached Jimmy and Connor in the MLL combine and they were two of the best players on the field,” said Garber.
Connolly had a breakout season with the Machine, leading the team with 27 goals and six power-play goals. Connolly was not only an offensive catalyst, but was also a consistent scorer. Connolly recorded a point in every game he played in and finished the year with a 13-game point streak.
Connolly is hoping to carry his point streak deep into next season with help from fellow attackman Stanwick. “Jimmy is one of those guys who always wants the ball,” said Stanwick. “We clicked more and more as the season went on and I’m excited to build more chemistry with him next season.”
With the team’s sixth pick, goalie Brian Phipps (17th overall) was selected and marked the addition of the team’s second goalie. In 2011, Phipps had an outstanding year with the Chesapeake Bayhawks where he was named a 2011 MLL All-star. Along with goalie Stefan Schroder, Phipps helped anchor the team’s defense. His best game of the season came against the Hamilton Nationals on July 13th where he had an 18-save performance, resulting in a win and Phipps being named Bud Light Player of the Game.
The team’s next three picks were defenseman Brett Hughes (19th overall), midfielder Matt Casey (21st overall) and defenseman Max Schmidt (23rd overall). This trio combined to play in 36 games for the Machine. For Hughes, the 2012 season was his first full season since 2008 and his last in the MLL. Hughes, who ended the season with 10 groundballs, proved to be a key presence on and off the field with his dynamic personality and leadership skills.
Casey also brought a veteran presence to the team and was a solid contributor to the offense. Casey scored the team’s first ever goal and finished the season with 10 goals, one two-point goal and two assists.
Unlike Hughes and Casey, Schmidt had never played an MLL game before joining the Machine. Schmidt began the year in a rotation, but finished the year as an undisputed starter and leader of the defense. “In the beginning he was alternating with another defenseman, but he stayed positive,” said Garber. “He ended up taking advantage of a good opportunity and blended into the defense.”
Along with the team’s initial transactions and the expansion draft, the team had begun the groundwork for a successful 2012 season but still had several holes heading into one of the team’s defining moments, the 2012 MLL Rookie Draft.
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