Rattlers dismiss Machine in first round of playoffs
For the second year in a row, the Rochester Rattlers beat the Ohio Machine in the first round of the Major League Lacrosse playoffs.
Last year Rochester bested Ohio, 15-11. This time around the Rattlers used an 11-4 run to advance to the championship game and won, 12-8.
“We didn’t do a lot of things well,” said head coach Bear Davis.
“But they earned it and did a lot of things defensively to stop us and we didn’t overcome that. Hats off to them.”
The eight goals scored by the Machine tied their lowest goal total of the season, the first time being the first game of the year against the New York Lizards.
Machine attackman Marcus Holman also took his hat off to Rattlers goalie John Galloway, who allowed the second-lowest goal total all season, snaring 15 saves against only 21 shots.
“We really couldn’t get in a rhythm, offensively, because of that,” said Holman.
The 21 shots on goal also matched the lowest SOG total of the season for the Machine, which also came in the first game against New York.
He also gave credit to the Rattlers defense getting their sticks up and disrupting the flow of Ohio’s offense.
Holman also said the team just didn’t have it as far as what they normally do on offense.
“I don’t know what it was,” he said. “I don’t know if guys were nervous because it was a home playoff game or what.”
Rochester head coach Tim Soudan said a fire was ignited when the refs called them offside after releasing possession of the ball when attackman Jordan Wolf was called for a pushing foul.
“It was a big wake-up call,” said Soudan. “Everyone (on Rochester) got all twitterpated and it kind of settled us down.”
At that point, the game was tied 1-1 after Rochester attackman Mark Matthews dropped in the game’s opening goal which was answered a minute later by Holman.
Three minutes later came the foul on Wolf and after he dropped the ball to give Ohio the possession, an offside penalty was called on the Rattlers, which threw them out of sync.
The Machine raced down the field and caught Rochester out of position which midfielder Tom Schreiber used to score his second two-point of the year and put Ohio up, 3-1.
Then Holman scored his second goal of the first quarter at the 7:49 mark to push the Machine’s lead to 4-1.
Then came another Rattler penalty on defenseman John LoCascio for pushing with under four minutes to play in the quarter that ignited the run.
“Defensively, (we) started playing at a different speed and it woke everybody up and we needed it,” said Soudan.
Rattlers midfielder Kyle Denhoff would spark the scoring the team needed to go on a 4-0 run after snagging a pass over the middle and firing one into the back of the net.
Machine attackman Jake Bernhardt sent the two teams into the locker room at the half tied at 5 when he netted the team’s only goal of the second quarter.
From there, Rochester’s defense locked down and outscored Ohio 7-3 in the second half which included scoring five of the first six goals in the third quarter and didn’t allow the Machine to score at all in the fourth.
Soudan said he thought his team played well offensively, too, especially since All-Star Jordan Wolf was held without a goal, the first time all season.
“We got a lot more things in (offensively) where we can use Jordan and the focus isn’t just on him,” he said. “And I think we proved that today that we’re dangerous all over the offensive field.”
Rochester attackman Kevin Rice led all players with four points on three goals and one assist.
Three different Rattlers scored three points, including midfielder Jordan McIntosh who was coming off of an eight point game last weekend in a loss to Florida.
Holman and Schreiber led the Machine with three points apiece, Holman on his eighth hat trick of the year and Schreiber on one goal, a two-pointer, and one assist.
Faceoff specialist Greg Puskuldjian outdid Rochester’s faceoff guy Mike Poppleton, winning 15 out of 23.
He also led all players with nine groundballs.
As for defenseman Brian Karalunas, despite the heartbreaking loss, he had nothing but praise for his teammates.
“This was my first year here and I had more fun playing lacrosse than I’ve had in years,” he said.
“It’s not even close.”
And even though they weren’t able to secure a championship game berth, Karalunas said that’s only something that will make the team hungrier for next year.
“You always want them (championships) but we’ll back ready for next year,” he said.
Rochester will be returning to the championship game to play against New York on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. for the Steinfeld Cup, which is the namesake of former body builder, actor and creator of MLL, Jake Steinfeld, that is given to the MLL championship game winner.