Ohio Machine Machine losing streak comes to an end

Seven games in a row. That’s how many losses the Ohio Machine (3-8) had racked up since winning their second game of the 2018 season at home against the Dallas Rattlers on May 12.

They were 2-1 at that point and looking good for making another run at the playoffs in defense of their Major League Lacrosse championship last year, especially when they came out and spanked the New York Lizards in their season opener, 25-14, which saw attackman Marcus Holman set a single-game scoring record of 11 goals.

Instead, the Machine sputtered and broke down, dropping a franchise record seven straight games.

But after much tweaking and twisting of the lineups, trading marquee players and activating others from player pools, the Sheens got off the schneid on Saturday night when they bested the Florida Launch (4-7) on the road, 13-11.

One of those tweaks to the lineup was replacing season-long goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr with backup Scotty Rodgers.

Rodgers snagged 17 saves against 27 shots and earned the Coca-Cola Player of the Game.

Machine coach Bear Davis was not at all surprised at Rodgers’ play in the cage.

“Scotty has been an MLL starter,” Davis said according to a quote from the team’s official website. “He’s an All-Star game MVP in this league (and) we have full faith he can come in and get the job done. He did a great job for us tonight.”

Another twist was adding two second-year guys in midfielder Frank Brown and attacker Shawn Evans to the lineup earlier in the week. After being drafted by the (formerly) Rochester Rattlers in the 2017 MLL draft, Brown signed with the Georgia Swarm of the National Lacrosse League, playing in six games. Evans was drafted by the Chesapeake Bayhawks also in last year’s MLL draft, playing in four games. He was then dealt to the Denver Outlaws and played in three games this season. The Machine then picked them up in an effort to shore up the absences of all-stars Tom Schreiber and Marcus Holman, who are playing in the Federation of International World Lacrosse Championships from July 12-21.

Brown immediately came into Saturday night’s game and made his presence felt scoring the first goal of the game 32 seconds in. Two minutes later, he assisted on Ohio’s second goal when he fed attackman Davey Emala to give the Sheens a 2-1 lead.

The Launch would answer back with two goals in the next minute to take a 3-2 lead. But by the end of the first quarter, the Machine answered back with three straight goals to hold a 5-3 edge.

The second quarter would play back into Florida’s favor as midfielder Connor Buczek and all-star attackman Dylan Molloy each scored their second goals of the game to even it up, 5-5.

Five minutes in, though, Brown struck again on an assist from rookie attacker Justin Guterding to give Ohio the lead once again. Brown then hooked up with Emala a second time in the game to push the Sheens’ lead to 7-5 with under four minutes to go in the half.

The scoring wasn’t over, however, as Florida midfielder Nick Mariano ripped the nets for his first goal of the game and Molloy notched a hat trick with 15 seconds left to tie it, 7-7, at the half.

The two teams traded off goals in the third quarter which ended with defenseman Steven Waldeck’s two-point goal to give Ohio a 10-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

From there, the Machine invaded the Launch’s cage with two consecutive goals from Emala and Guterding, both on assists from midfielder Peter Baum. That extended their lead to 12-9 with under 10 minutes to play.

Florida answered back 40 seconds later when midfielder Steven Brooks ripped the back of the Rodgers’ net to pull the Launch to within two, 12-10.

But Frank Brown struck again with less than eight minutes to go for a hat trick and gave Ohio a 13-10 lead and the Machine were able to play staunch defense for the remainder of the final stanza, only allowing Florida one last goal with less than two minutes left.

“The kid is special,” Davis said of Brown. “I think that you look at a guy that big and you don’t necessarily know what he’s going to do speed-wise. But he’s got a great first step and he’s incredibly poised. He came in here as an MLL rookie but he’s been playing against the big boys, playing in the NLL Championship Series and I think that has some value, for sure. He brought that to the table tonight, which was huge for us.”

Brown tied Florida’s Molloy for a game-high five points on three goals and two assists.

Molloy finished with four goals and one assist.

The Machine’s next game is at Fortress Obetz on Saturday, July 21 in their only game this season against the Atlanta Blaze (4-6).

Ball drops at 6 p.m.

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