Machine sweep Boston, clinch home field advantage
In only what can be described as thrilling, the Ohio Machine won their last regular season game beating the Boston Cannons, 17-16, in a donnybrook on Saturday night in Selby Stadium to clinch home field advantage for the first round of the 2015 Major League Lacrosse playoffs.
“It felt like I just ran a couple of miles,” said Machine head coach Bear Davis after the game.
The win also completed a sweep of Boston (8-6) on the season, put the Machine (9-5) in sole possession of second place in the MLL standings and gave them their second playoff appearance for the second year in a row, the second time in the team’s short four-year history.
“I tell you what, this team has shown so much character this year,” said Davis. “We’ve had a couple of one-goal losses and I’m not a firm believer that you can learn a ton from a loss but you do figure out some things like the grind (of the season) and at the 14th game of the season, if you don’t know what you’re doing then we don’t deserve to win.”
But he said he knew his guys were capable of gutting it out and getting the win.
“They’re all pretty high IQ guys, they’re smart. I’m proud of these guys tonight.”
Machine attackman Steele Stanwick knew it was a big game coming in and they had to play well to get home field advantage.
“We wanted to hit the playoffs playing well,” he said. “This is a great Boston team and we wanted a home game (for the first round of the playoffs) and we just kept fighting.”
With only two minutes left to play in the game, the Machine found themselves down 16-15 and badly in need of a goal to keep their home field hopes alive.
And they got it from midfielder Tom Schreiber as he threw in a rocket that ripped the back of the net, his fourth goal of the night, and tied it up 16-16.
And just 35 seconds later they got the game clincher from Stanwick, who laced it in from just outside the goalie box on a laser beam pass from rookie attackman Jimmy Bitter.
Stanwick led all Machine players on the night with a season-high eight points on a season-high four goals and tied his season-high with four assists.
He tied Boston attackman John Glesener in overall points for the game who also had eight on five goals (two two-pointers) and one assist.
Not to be outdone, Ohio’s Marcus Holman – who leads the team in goals scored and second in MLL with 39 – finished second overall in points with five on three goals and two assists.
Schreiber – who leads all Machine players in points on the year with 60 – finished the game with four, all being goals.
The game started off quickly two minutes in with Holman flipping in the game’s first goal, his 37th on the year.
Boston’s leading goal scorer, attackman David Emala, would answer back almost two minutes later to tie it up 1-1.
Ohio’s Peter Baum, who finished with four points on two goals and two assists, then put them back on top, 2-1, as he slashed his way from behind the net and zipped in a sidearm shot a few feet from in front of the goal.
Nearly two minutes later, Boston’s Glesener was able to find the back of the net with his first two-point goal of the match and gave the Cannons the lead, 3-2.
Then Stanwick stuck in his first of the night just 20 seconds later and knotted it up, 3-3.
Ohio would end the first quarter with the lead, 5-3, as midfielder Jake Bernhardt and Bitter both scored.
The second quarter was ablaze with action that saw Stanwick dish out three of his four assists and Holman getting two more goals for his sixth hat trick of the year as both teams went tit-for-tat with Boston outscoring Ohio, 6-4, and the two teams went into the locker room locked up, 9-9.
The two teams kept up the frenetic pace to start the third, as Glesener gave the Cannons the lead, 10-9, two-and-a-half minutes in.
Schreiber then scored his first of the night to tie it up on an assist from Baum.
The two would hook up again with 4:07 to play in the quarter to give Ohio a 12-11 lead.
The lead would be short-lived as Cannons attackman Will Manny put the game even 23 seconds later and the third quarter would end at 12-12.
Bitter and Stanwick got the fourth quarter rolling, both scoring goals in a span of 15 seconds, to give the Machine the edge, 14-12.
But Boston would answer back on Glesener’s second two-pointer of the night and would then take the lead, 15-14, on midfielder Kevin Buchanan’s first goal of the game.
Schreiber then completed his fourth hat trick on the year off of an assist from Kyle Harrison, tying it up once again.
The Cannons’ Buchanan jumped Boston ahead 23 seconds later, 16-15, with only half of the quarter left to play.
Then came Schreiber and Stanwick to save the day and put the Machine ahead for good.
Stanwick said part of his success on the night was heeding the coaching staff’s advice to take more control.
“The coaches keep telling me I got to keep calling my own number and be a little bit more of a scoring threat instead of just passing,” he said.
“I’ve been trying to do it and things just kind of opened up and teammates found me. It was a great team effort and I couldn’t be happier with the team.”
Putting up another great effort was the rookie Bitter.
In just the seventh game of his professional career since joining the team in week 7, the third round draftee out of the University of North Carolina ended the night with his fifth hat trick of the year, scoring four points on three goals and one assist.
Goalie Brian Phipps shagged 15 saves against 29 shots-on-goal and defenseman Brian Karalunas led the team with four groundballs.
The Machine will square off against Rochester on Saturday, Aug. 1 in Selby Stadium with the start time TBD.