With a stout squad of 19, Machine trekked to Rhode Island to celebrate a nation's birth day with its first ever US Open, and first ever US Open win. Over four days, Machine played teams from across the Americas, finishing with a 6-1 record, a check for $2,000, and a long list of things to work on for the future.
The holiday weekend started out early on Friday with a game against Ki.e, a Colombian team with many players fresh off a Quarterfinals appearance at WUGC in London. Ki.e jumped out to an early lead before Machine ratcheted up the defensive intensity and started forcing the cutters to go deep. Taking half 8-5, Machine created significant pressure in the second half, forcing many "coverage sacks" en route to a 15-6 win. Michael Pardo gave an extremely brief salute in Spanish, and Machine prepared for their next contest against a similarly short-handed team in Florida United.
Machine went up early on Florida, capitalizing on throwaways and drops. Jeremy Langdon was a matchup headache throughout, and was bolstered by an athletic handler-driven offense. Machine was up as much as 12-8 before a Florida run brought the score to 12-11 in a game to 13 .The D line was called in and rolled up the field to the goal line before a handblock gave Florida United an opportunity to tie the game going downwind. Neal Phelps had other ideas, and his first pass Callahan sealed the win for Machine 13-11.
Machine decompressed with a trip to the beach, and hit the sack early prepare for three games against three strong teams.
First up on Saturday was Sockeye, along with the return of Team USA gold medalists Goose Helton and Brett Matzuka. The game was hotly contested from the start, with Machine struggling to pressure the Seattle offense and athletic Sockeye defenders making things difficult for the Machine O. In fact, Machine failed to produce a turnover on Sockeye's offense until the D broke to tie the game 7-7 before Sockeye took half 7-8. In the second half, Machine's d brought the pressure, forcing multiple turnovers and tying the game at 9 all. On the ensuing point, Machine had numerous chances to take the lead, but the Sockeye O held strong, giving their defense a whack. The Seattle D made the most of their opportunities and broke four times in a row to bring the score to 9-14 in favor of Sockeye. The teams traded out for a 10-15 loss for Machine.
More work remained, and Machine bounced back against General Strike, a speedy team from Winnipeg. General Strike was unable to go deep effectively, and Machine played with a chip on their shoulder, taking half 8-2. The second half saw more of the same, but the offense sputtered, allowing its first break of the game on the way to a 15-7 final.
Standing at 3-1, Machine was giving the opportunity to play into the semifinals, but only if they could beat long time rival Madison Club, also at 3-1, having beaten Sockeye and lost to Florida United. A win sends Machine to the semis, a loss to the 5th place bracket. Machine started intense, breaking on the first point, and several more times in the first half with tight marks and pressure on handlers. A stacked D line at 7-5 forced four turnovers but couldn't find the endzone. The O held quickly to take half 8-5. The O held again out of half and the D broke for a 10-5 lead. Despite multiple chances for the Madison D, the Machine O held all of their opportunities and were unbroken through the game. The teams traded until Machine broke for a 14-8 win and a spot in the late semifinal against Boston Ironside.
The hometown fans were out in force for Ironside, and Machine gave them reason to get pumped with two turnovers to start and two quick breaks for Ironside. Down 2-0, the D line came in on offense and hucked from Sheehan to Pardo to get on the board. Worse yet, Boston added another break for a 5-2 lead. The O got back in control with a hold and the D broke on three of the next five points sparked by a D from Von Alanguilan on a crossfield throw. At 7-7 Machine broke again to take half back on serve 8-7 on a highlight grab by Alanguilan from Brett Matzuka, one of his game-high 6 assists. An Ironside miscommunication out of half gave Machine a short field and a 9-7 lead. The pressure from Ironside increased, but the Machine O held strong, surrendering no breaks in the second half. An Ironside turn at 14-12 gave Machine a chance to break and, after a timeout, Andrew Sheehan found Walden Nelson upline for the goal and the win, 15-12.
Another day of waiting found Machine in the late final with a rematch against Sockeye. A swirling wind swept across the field causing unpredictable disc action, but Machine won the flip and chose to receive going upwind. Systematic unders and uplines led to a short away shot from Pawel Janas to Cullen Geppert for the early hold. Machine broke downwind to take a quick 2-0 lead. All game, both teams were plagued by drops and misthrows in the wind, with Sockeye making just a few more short field mistakes than Machine. A big upwind hammer from Goose to Von gave Machine the half, and a poach D from Alanguilan on the first D point out of half brought the lead to 9-5. Sockeye would turn up the defensive pressure later in the half, but only notch one break and a Matzuka backhand found Bob Liu for the game winner, 15-12.
Shorthanded teams and strange conditions abounded in this early season tournament, and Machine was able to come out on top. Not satisfied with this result or the weak conversion rates on O and D, Machine will be hitting pods and practices hard in preparation for Colorado Cup at the end of July. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook until then!