Our strength comes not from abstractly doing something that will make the team win, but that we become strong when we knit ourselves together in the systems that we've worked on. This was Machine's mantra heading into the US Open.
Flash forward to Blaine, MN. After brief lightning delay to start the day, Machine kicked the tournament off with a spirited game versus Raleigh's Ring of Fire. An early break put Machine in a hole, but improved spacing and timing downfield quickly righted the ship. Both teams would trade, as Machine’s D-line was able to get the occasional turn, but struggled to convert goals. That would change, as a strong start to the second half would put Chicago back in front. Unfortunately, errors began to pile up, and Ring was able to make a run to close the game out 14-12.
In round 2, Machine returned to one of Experiment 29’s most grizzly crime scenes. Wondering, ‘What Would Michael Schwenk do?’ the Rowdy Boys came out fast and loose jumping on international opponent, Fire of London, 6-0. Some impressive upwind skies led to London scores during the second half, but Machine jogged away with this one 15-3.
In the final round of the day, Machine took a walloping from the hometown heroes, Sub Zero. Machine O struggled with Subs physicality on D, and were plagued with execution errors. The D was slow to implement adjustments, and Sub’s systematic offense continued to keep Chicago chasing. It was never in doubt, Sub ran away with it 15-9.
The taste of frustration was quickly replaced with that of barbecue, as Machine headed to Minnesota native Ross Barker’s home for an evening of grilling, joking, and uni-cycling.
Day 2 was expected to feature heavy storms from start to finish, but Mother Gaia smiled upon the US Open, holding back the lightning so games could go on unimpeached. Unfortunately, Machine lost cutter Alex Evangelides for the weekend to an ankle injury in the lead-up to the game. One of three Japanese teams in attendance, Loquitos proved to be formidable foe in round 1. Machine’s offensive timing began to improve, as new pieces started finding their rhythm. The defense on the other hand, looked a step slow, with Loquitos placing sharp edged hucks perfectly for receivers in stride early and often. Finding success going upwind, Machine’s d-line O was able to eventually capitalize on enough turns to close things out 15-11.
Next up, Machine took on Denver’s Johnny Bravo. This game featured only a single turn by the O-line, as quick disc movement made all the difference. Bravo stayed close early, as the D line found ways to generate turns, but consistently gave the disc back after stagnating on the turn. Enough shots eventually lead to scores, and the clean offensive performance facilitated a 15-10 victory. The win came with another injury, as Kevin Kelly was knocked out for the weekend with a shoulder injury.
The final game of the day was the most frustrating of the weekend in many ways. After failing to close out a late lead over Truck Stop in Colorado at PEC, Machine would once again get knocked off their foundation, allowing a series of consecutive breaks late in the game to fall 11-14 to the boys from DC.
With an early end to the day, Machine split into two camps in order to simultaneously cheer on the Chicago boys YCC team being coached by Machine head coach Andy Neilen, and cheer on the women of Chicago Nemesis as they battled Texas’s Showdown in an action packed game. The two factions reunited at the semi-final fields to check-in at the Gum Ball, a social event promoting girls and women’s ultimate with raffles, dinner, and one-to-one player interaction. Machine was excited to donate some swag to the raffle, and promote Gum as official GUM Ambassadors.
In the final day of the tournament, Machine would once again play Bravo, this time in the consolation bracket. Both teams came out firing, focused, and ready to compete, despite the lower stakes. A back and forth game, each team found themselves giving up the disc, but battling to get it back and hold on O. A late D by Sam Kanner led to a short field upwind break, and was enough to turn the tide as Machine won 13-11.
With the official slate of games over, Machine took the field one additional time, to play Japan’s buzz bullets in a non-regulation game. Both teams have history with each other, and were not going to pass up the opportunity to get a game in before heading home. Machine’s offense looked crisp from start to finish, and routinely found big receivers for deep scores. Buzz made it tough on the defense, with incredibly quick disc movement running defenders into the ground. A late weekend second wind to the D-lines legs led to an impressive performance, and enough pressure to cause the Buzz offense to falter. Improved conversion rates stretched the lead early, and Machine ran away with this very fun scrimmage 11-7.
Overall, lots of frustration, lots of out of sync movement, lots of room for growth for the Rowdy Boys. Fortunately, the boys won’t have to wait long before they have another chance to improve again, with the Elite Select Challenge less than two weeks away.