Machine Struggles for Chemistry Against NexGen

by | July 30, 2012, 2:55pm 0

Machine successfully pressured NexGen in the air. Photo courtesy of Don Rummelhart.

The Chicago Ultimate community almost packed the stands at Lane Tech High School last Thursday to watch a young Machine team face off with an even younger NexGen. Something was missing though, and it wasn’t only the city’s namesake wind. There seemed to be a huge showing of raw talent from Machine, especially on the defensive side of the disc, but overall the team appeared to lack chemistry. This isn’t too surprising, considering Machine had only played one try-out tournament before challenging NexGen, which they attended with a split squad.

“We played poorly and not up to our ability,” said Craig Poeppelman, one of Machine’s four captains. “This was our first game playing together with many new players. I expect we will have these fixed soon and perform much better at ECC in two weeks.”

Things were rocky off of the first pull for Chicago Machine. Two miscalculated throws lead to two early breaks for NexGen, including a massive break-side, backhand huck from Tommy Li, freshly returned after missing the Madison Club game, to Camden Allison-Hall.

Nick Lance lays out for a huge D. Photo courtesy of Don Rummelhart.

After a timeout, Machine was able to trade points with NexGen, bringing the score up to 4-2 NexGen. Machine ran the majority of their offense through veterans Dane Olson (handler) and the Alleycats’ John Helton (cutter).

Throughout the entire game, Machine was able to challenge many of the deep looks intended for to Tyler DeGirolamo and Colin Camp. NexGen took what was given to them and began abusing the defense with in-cuts and up-lines. Nick Lance and Alex Thorne frequently swung the disc in the handler movement, and Dylan Freechild saw a number of touches as well. NexGen took half at 8-3 and came out with the same mentality in the second half; they opened with a wide open up-line from Lance to Freechild, who unloaded a cross field hammer to DeGirolamo in the endzone.

Machine struggled again in the second half to maintain possession of the disc. Miscommunications led to mistimed dumps and a few overthrows. The issue seemed to stem from chemistry and not talent. Although Machine’s vert stack was able to create opportunities downfield, discs tended to float too far or too long or cutters turned to clear early.

“We just needed to stop turning the disc over every 3 throws,” said Poeppelman, describing the adjustments Machine was trying to make during the game.

Photo courtesy of Don Rummelhart.

If anything, Machine’s outlook on the rest of the season is optimistic, despite having a young team, only seven players departed since their ninth place finish at nationals last year – Machine’s best finish in team’s eleven-year history. They managed to pick up a few big-name recruits as well, including Michael Liu who has spent time with Polar Bears and CLX, Stephan Mance of Sub Zero, and Cullen Geppert of Madison Club, and George Hughs-Strange of Truck Stop.

The final score may have been disappointing for Machine, but the intensity skyrocketed towards the end of the game. Dane Olson fired a crowd-pleasing hammer from half-field that was snagged by Joel Koehneman for one of Machine’s final points. NexGen ratcheted up their defense as well. At 13-5, Camp caught some hangtime on the endzone line as he layed out in front of Machine’s Neil Phelps. On the other side of the field, Machine’s Andy Neilsen picked up the disc on their endzone line after a NexGen turn, but DeGirolamo was able to get a hand on the disc, and Freechild put a quick hammer up to Jacob Janin. NexGen would go on to win 15-6.

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