In the Major League Lacrosse playoffs, one off day spells the end of your season.
That same backs-against-the-wall feeling has already been with the Ohio Machine for a few weeks heading into its Saturday clash with the Rochester Rattlers.
“Our backs have been against the wall for a while here,” Machine head coach Bear Davis said.
That attitude has led to a five-game winning streak for the Machine as it looks to make a statement in its first playoff appearance in club history. Ohio and Rochester will be facing-off for the third time this season at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Rochester, N.Y.
The Rattlers finished first in the league after going 10-4 with a 6-1 record at home. The Machine finished fourth in MLL with an 8-6 record, but has the best recent track record of any team heading into the postseason. Ohio is also the only team that managed to beat the Rattlers in Rochester this season, winning 17-15 on August 2.
Davis said his team has achieved a lot of things that would typically be considered very difficult, like winning five straight games, beating Rochester twice and winning at Sahlen’s Stadium. He said his team is more focused on the next task than the past, which has led to its success in recent weeks.
“Maybe that’s just because we have focused on the process of the task at hand,” Davis said. “Maybe we’ve talked less about how hard this stuff is to do and just go out and perform.”
A big reason for that success was due to the Machine’s record-setting offense, which finished first in MLL with 200 goals this season. Rochester and the second place Denver Outlaws tied for second with 188 goals each.
On top of the best overall offense, the Machine finished the year boasting the top individual goal scorer in attackman Marcus Holman, who put 37 shots into the back of the net, as well as two 50-point scorers in Holman and midfielder Peter Baum. In all, the Machine had four players score 27 or more goals, making it the first team to hit that mark since two did it in 2004.
Davis said the best way to keep that offensive success going into the playoffs is to start on the defensive side.
“Our defense has just got to make enough stops,” Davis said. “We’ve just told them, give the ball back to our offense, that’s your job, just give it to them one more time and give them the opportunity to score goals.”
Even though the offense is more revered, the Machine defense will head into the playoffs on a hot streak, led by Dana Wilber, who was named the Warrior Defensive Player of the Week after Ohio’s regular season finale against Florida — a game it won, 14-10.
“He’s not really a guy that makes the same mistake twice, he prides himself on that,” Davis said of Wilber. “He’s not a real vocal guy, he’s not overly flashy, he just gets the job done.”
With Wilber in charge, that defense will be tasked with stopping a Rochester team that scored a total of 28 goals in two matchups against the Machine this season. The Rattlers’ defense, on the other hand, will have to look to slow down an attack that scored 35 total goals against them.
After the two team’s semifinal matchup, the winner will face the victor of the other semifinal game between the Denver Outlaws and New York Lizards.
The MLL Championship game is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. The game will take place at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.