By Natalie Johnson | 5/10/14 10:30 PM
It went down to the wire, but the Florida Launch were able to secure their second victory of the year, defeating the Ohio Machine 10-9 in an extremely close game Saturday night. The Launch moves to 2-1 on the season, while the Machine are now 1-2.
The Machine continued their trend of slow starts this season, as the opening minutes seemed to be all Florida. The Launch opened scoring with a long goal from Garrett Thul less than 3 minutes in. Casey Powell started what would be a huge night for him with a goal off a Kevin Cunningham assist, and Kevin Crowley added another goal for the Launch less than a minute later. After a second goal from Powell, the Launch had a 4-0 lead and seemed to be unstoppable.
However, the Machine scored two quick goals at the end of the first quarter, and the action started to shift in Ohio’s favor. Despite losing goalkeeper Scott Rodgers early in the second quarter to a leg injury, the Machine wouldn’t allow another goal in the first half. Experienced backup Brian Phipps proved resilient in the net, and after a goal from Logan Schuss, Kiel Matisz was able to tie the game at 4 with his first score of the year.
Everyone was anxious to see what the top pick in the 2014 MLL Draft, Tom Schreiber, could do in his first game with the Machine. We found out near the end of the second quarter, as Schreiber scored off a pass from Kyle Harrison for the first goal of his professional career. Florida had trouble with turnovers and finding quality shots in the second quarter, and Ohio took a 5-4 lead into halftime.
While the first half was all about scoring runs and shifts in momentum, the second half was a much more balanced affair. Logan Schuss netted his second goal of the night to make it six unanswered goals for Ohio, but the Launch were able to tie the game at 6 with a goal from Powell and a particularly impressive ground ball play from Kevin Crowley. After a stop by Phipps, Crowley was able to snatch up a loose ball near the goal and score, despite being surrounded by three Machine defenders.
After the 6-6 tie, neither team was able to take a definitive lead in the game, swapping goals until the final horn. One of those crucial scores came from Kieran McArdle, the Launch’s top draft pick in 2014 who was making his MLL debut. Finally, with 2 minutes remaining, Powell recorded his fifth goal of the night, which made the score 10-9, and would turn out to be the final point of the game.
Ohio had a chance to send the game into overtime, winning the final faceoff and getting several opportunities to score in the final seconds. However, Brett Queener finished off a strong night in the goal with 13 saves by preserving the win for the Launch.
Florida goes on the road for the first time next week, visiting the defending MLL champion Chesapeake Bayhawks on Saturday, May 17 at 7:00 PM ET. That game will be aired live on MLL’s official YouTube channel. Meanwhile, you can watch the Machine’s home opener vs. the New York Lizards on Saturday, May 17 at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN3.