Machine took their show on a West Coast Tour for the long weekend, and turned up in style with a 3-3 record and a second place overall finish at the USAU Pro Championships. Machine will be gearing up for Regionals in three weeks with some intense practices and team time in preparation for our biggest test of the year.
Machine's weekend started early on a cloudless Pacific Northwest morning against defending national finalist Revolver from San Francisco. The squad from the Bay came out sloppy to start, making mistakes against Machine's junk and 1v1 looks alike. Machine rode their strong defensive conversion rate to a 8-5 halftime lead. Revolver looked intent on coming back, but a layout block from Von on an under in the first point out of half led to another Machine break for a 9-5 lead. Machine tacked on another two breaks for a 13-7 lead before Revolver flexed its muscles with three straight breaks to make it 13-11. Machine's O got back on the board, and traded the game out for a 15-12 win.
Next up was Denver's Johnny Bravo, against whom Machine couldn't generate much pressure in a 10-15 loss. Execution mistakes early gave Bravo a 4-1 lead to start, and they would carry that advantage to a 5-8 halftime bulge. Machine couldn't close the gap, and managed only three turnovers on Bravo's O line, who relentless broke the mark and challenged deep. Though Machine's offense stabilized in the second half, the damage was done and the team dropped their second game 10-15.
For the last game of the day, Machine faced the ostensibly second team from the Bay Area, Oakland Guerrilla. Machine looked tired in their cutting lanes and on defense, and gave up an early break for a 3-4 deficit. Oakland spread the field well and raced Machine's out cuts well. Machine equalized, the only break conversion out of 7 tries in the first half, but Oakland broke for half, 6-8. Machine's D line came out in the second half with fury, breaking twice to tie the game, and just missed a connection for the third. Machine would eventually take the lead, but low cutting action and high-stall mistakes gave Guerrilla all the chances they needed, and an invert sealed a 13-15 win for the Bay.
After games on Saturday, leadership from Machine participated in Gender Equity discussion amongst Men's team representatives, while the rest of the Rowdy Boys refueled with chocolate milk-based placebos and a dip in the beautiful Skagit River, leading into an early bed time in preparation for top-ranked Seattle Sockeye in the quarterfinals the next day.
Sockeye's speed on offense would be a major weapon in this game, and Machine focused on slowing them down with multiple looks on D. Sockeye obliged by giving break opportunities in under- and overthrown discs. Machine's D line looked composed on the turn, capitalizing on Seattle mistakes and taking half 8-5. As the previous day against Revolver, Seattle pushed back and tied the game at 10-10 after some big plays by their D line. Machine put the D in for a hold, and found Walden Nelson on a little dog sky over a poaching defender. After Sockeye's run, Machine found one of their own, breaking three times in a row for a 14-10 lead. After a Sockeye hold, Pawel Janas found Michael Pardo deep for the 15-11 win.
This strong win set up a pool play rematch with Johnny Bravo, who easily dispatched SoCal Condors in the previous round. This matchup found the Machine D generating much more pressure and blocks, and the D line showing confidence on the turn. Machine's deep game was connecting, and they took an 8-6 lead into the half. Bravo ratcheted up their own defensive efforts, and chipped away at the Machine lead in a back and forth second half, eventually breaking to tie the game at 14 in a game to 15. Machine's experience in games to 1 this weekend gave them an edge here, and after he turned an initial deep throw to Pardo on a Jimmy Mickle block, Cullen Geppert got a ground-shaking layout block on an under, and Janas threw a short away shot to Travis Carpenter for the 15-14 win.
Machine caught some shade while watching the Molly Brown/Brute Squad semifinal, then got a great meal together in a part time sauna, hitting the sack early again for a 3pm final. Waking early, the crew followed Seattle native, Julian Childs-Walker into the mountains for some beautiful scenery, and then headed to the stadium for their rematch against Revolver.
Building on their focus from the previous rounds, Machine locked in to committed defense and multiple looks for the Revolver O line. They would need it after a first point break for Revolver, and finally got it on a layout in the zone from Alanguilan, which tied the game at 4. The teams would engage in a gritty trade battle, with Revolver notching one more break to half 7-8. Machine struggled to create pressure in the second half as Revolver's offense settled in, and some execution errors from the Machine O line led to Revolver pulling away, eventually sealing the game with a break, 10-15.
Big ups to all our fans, as we're going into the thick of our preparation, getting ready for an intense regional competition in three weeks. Until, then enjoy a few Twitter video clips from this past weekend, and look out for a tournament highlight video in the next few weeks.