Chicago Machine qualified for Nationals this past weekend at the Great Lakes Regional tournament in Westchester, OH, but had some bumpy moments along the way.
The Men's division of the Great Lakes Region had two bids to Nationals on the line, as 16 teams fought to secure their spot at the top. The tournament was played in a bracket format, with Machine coming in as the overall number 2 seed behind Michigan's High Five.
Machine's made quick work of their first opponent, Spin-Itch, with a 15-1 rout. The quick game allowed plenty of rest prior to playing another Chicago based team, Haymaker, in quarterfinals. Haymaker was able to break early to make things interesting, but after going back and forth until the score was 3-3, Machine locked down and increased their pressure en route to a 15-3 run away victory.
The final round on Saturday pitted Machine in a semifinal match-up with Cleveland's Smokestack. Machine struggled early and throughout the game to create flow on offense, and Smokestack took advantage by taking confident shots on offense, often finding receivers in stride. As the wind picked up, both teams gave the disc away with unforced errors, but Machine would separate down the stretch to cap the day with a 15-11 victory.
On Sunday, both Machine and High Five got to sleep in, with the Finals game commencing at 1:00pm in the afternoon. The two teams would trade early, despite some long points for the Machine offense. Still, the Chicago O was able punch in scores, and the D would get on the books first with an early break. The momentum would be short lived, as the latter part of the first half would see High Five break twice to take half. After scoring on O to start the second half, High Five would rattle off another break, as Machine looked out of sync on offense, and struggled to make ground against the stout High Five defense. This would play out on repeat with High Five running away with a 15-8 drubbing.
Machine was able to bounce back in the backdoor game, playing another familiar foe in Chicago's Black Market. Machine got out to an early lead, and kept Black Market an arms length away for the whole first half. Black Market turned up the D in the second half, breaking two consecutive times to make things interesting, before Machine righted the ship and converted down the stretch to punch their ticket to Nationals with a 15-8 victory.
Disappointed with their struggles on the weekend, there was not much celebrating in the Machine post-tourney huddle. The team knows it must correct its course in the final 3 weeks leading into Nationals in Frisco, Texas, but the promise of a fresh slate has everyone looking forward with confident anticipation.
Machine is happy to be joined in Frisco by the Chicago Women's team, Nemesis, who won their divisions single bid, as well as The UPA, a Chicago based Mixed team that took the single bid in the Mixed division. 'The UPA' is a team in its first year, featuring several former players from Machine and Nemesis.
Photos/ Video Courtesy of Vince Fergus