Machine got a little rowdy this weekend in Denver, taking 5th in the Pro-Elite challenge, which featured 14 of the 2014 nationals field. Machine's pool included payback opportunities against Furious George and Temper, as well as the tournament's #1 seed Revolver.
Machine started strong against Furious, holding on O and rattling off two breaks for the early 3-0 lead. Furious settled down and traded to 5-3 before a Machine hold and a big break gave half to the boys from Chicago 7-3. The second half featured a lot of altitude turnovers for Furious, with their hucks sailing just out of reach. Machine's D line slammed with door with four straight breaks and zero turnovers to win the game 13-5.
Machine's D line was still fired up at the start of the second game against Pittsburgh's Temper, breaking again after an O hold. Temper stopped the bleeding and traded several O points with Machine until two straight breaks gave Machine a 7-3 halftime lead. In this game, however, the D line was unable to find pressure in the second half, and the O line gave up its first break. Machine held on for a 13-10 win.
Against Revolver, Machine knew they would face much higher pressure defense. After trading early, the pressure paid off for Revolver, who broke twice to take a 3-5 lead that extended to a 5-7 deficit for Machine at the half. Unable to generate pressure on the Revolver O, Machine survived on offensive grit until a turfed swing and huge Kevin Kelly sky D were both efficiently cashed in for breaks to tie the game 11-11. For the first time in the game, the sidelines got loud to spur on the comeback, but Revolver held on O and broke quickly on D to take the game 13-11.
Bracket time! Machine matched up with Truck Stop, who had two DGP losses to go with their win against Boost Mobile. The annual match-up with Truck Stop carries extra weight, as the winner is awarded Walden Nelson for the rest of the weekend. As before, Machine's D line broke after an O hold and carried that lead to half, up 7-5. The altitude and the heat wore on both teams, who more or less coasted to the finish after another Machine break to start the second half. Machine's O line led the way in this one, finishing a perfect 11 for 11 possessions en route to a 13-10 win. It's worth noting that Truck Stop was playing with a depleted roster, missing several of there top players for various reasons.
After a team dinner and a rowdy battle with some Colorado rapids, Machine rested up for a Sunday quarterfinal matchup against Johnny Bravo.
On Sunday morning, Bravo and Machine traded early breaks before two in a row by Bravo put Machine down 4-7 at half. Machine ramped up the defensive pressure in the second half breaking twice to start the half to bring them within one, 6-7. Long points with lots of turns took this game to the wire, and after trading breaks, Machine fell after scoring at the hard cap, 11-12.
Down but not out, the squad headed to the 5th place bracket against an efficient Rhino offense. Machine built a big second half lead on strong conversions of break opportunities, but allowed it to lapse, giving back two breaks and making it a little more interesting down the stretch. The O line figured it out and notched a patient score to close the game 13-11.
In the final game of the weekend, Machine faced Doublewide in a Five-als rematch of 2013 nationals. That back and forth game ended in the Texans' favor, but this one was all Machine, with a gritty defense forcing a Gibson-less Doublewide into multiple turnovers and breaks. A 15 yard gaining layout D from Walden Nelson and a thunderous goalline catch block from Mike Schwenk capped a 13-7 win for 5th.
Overall a great weekend for the big dogs from Chicago, who showed that they could roll with the some of the top teams even while not playing at the top of their game for stretches. Lots of work to do in the two weeks before the Pro Flight Finale, Machine's final regular season tournament.
Full USAU Tournament Results: http://play.usaultimate.org/events/TCT-Pro-Elite-Challenge/schedule/mens/club-men/