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Florida Launch Fall to Ohio Machine in First Playoff Appearance

via the Launch web site/Mercedes Espina – pictures via MLL  
Author’s Note:  The breakout season for the Florida Launch came to an end last night in an 18-13 loss to Ohio in a game that showed both the best of what the team accomplished with the simultaneous issues that cropped up at times during the season.  First, a shout out to all those that attended the Launch watch party at Brass Tap, which was filled up with Launch fans on an August Saturday night and those fans were certainly into the game!  Thanks to the Launch management and operations for their foresight and planning to make this a fun night for all! The game itself had all the hallmarks of a possible memorable night for the Launch fans.  A slow start was answered in style, as the team overcame two early Machine goals to claw its’ way back to a 3-2 deficit after one.  Another early spurt in the second was also answered as the team fought back and actually took the lead late in the second before a trading of goals late left the game tied at 7 at the half. The teams went back and forth in the third until the last minute of the quarter, where the old season long bugaboo of late goals against hurt badly, particularly Ohio star Peter Baum’s 2-pointer with seconds to go gave the Machine a 15-11 lead going into the fourth, deflating the team’s efforts for the first 44 minutes of the game.  Ohio played a mature fourth quarter, keeping the Launch mostly at bay with the goal spread and the Launch were not able to mount a late comeback to make the game close at anytime in the last stanza. Really, what we saw last night was how an experienced playoff team was able to finish a game versus a young team getting their first glimpse of an MLL playoff game.  When you look at the game itself it was an excellent example of how some little things could add up to some big things.  A few sloppy plays here and there, combined with a faceoff possession deficit and finally Ohio being able to get the defense running around a little in the fourth to score a few key goals when a defensive stop was paramount. Regardless of the outcome, the future looks bright for the team and for the fans.  One thing that I have not fully checked on is the possible player movement possibility in the off season.  If I am not mistaken, Tucker Durkin is eligible for player movement, and with his coaching career up North we have to see if he would prefer playing closer to that career location.  Tucker’s importance to the team can not be overstated and if he moves on the Launch will need to address the position.  Although the other defensemen who asserted themselves as rookies certainly showed well they always had the luxury of having what is possibly the best one on one defender in the world to play alongside.  it’s something to watch for this offseason. The Launch set an attendance record for a single home game against Atlanta and it will now be incumbent on the local lacrosse fans to turn out in even greater numbers next season to help the team take it to the next step, making the Finals and winning the MLL championship.  I was on the fence about whether to attend the MLL finals in Dallas . . . certainly if the team had won last night it was a definite yes but I wasn’t likely going after a loss. That decision has been changed.  I’m likely going to Dallas for the Finals and look forward to writing about the experience for the readers here!  After all, there are a number of Florida connections on both Denver and Ohio. Thanks again to the team for the great season they gave us and to the Launch front office for all the support!
  The Launch close out their historic season with an 18-13 loss to the Ohio Machine in the Major League Lacrosse Semifinals. In their first ever playoff appearance, the Launch showed a renewed team energy that has been in the making throughout the regular season. After losing to the Machine earlier this season, the Launch developed considerably since their last meeting, staying close to Ohio throughout the game. Kieran McArdle (4G) and Dylan Molloy (4G, 1A) played critical roles for the Launch offense tonight, with both attackman tallying four points against the Machine. Connor Buczek (2G, 4A), the Launch’s points-leader in the game, was a key player as he scored to tie the game on two separate occasions. Faceoff specialist Will Gural came up big for the Launch at the X, going 17 for 32 on faceoffs and collecting 10 ground balls. The Launch finish the season with an 8-7 record.