Photo of lacrosse player

Dominique Alexander says his role is to force turnovers and get the ball to the offense as quickly as possible. (Photo courtesy of the Ohio Machine)

Defensive midfielder Dominique Alexander says the Ohio Machine is made up of many parts. How well those parts fit together has lifted the Delaware-based professional lacrosse team into the Major League Lacrosse playoffs for the second time in the club’s history.
  “The coaches have done a good job of letting everyone know what their role is. We’re just playing at a high level and we’re just going out, executing and putting some wins together,” said Alexander, whose team was 8-5 overall after defeating New York Lizards 14-9 on July 18 and before hosting the Boston Cannons on July 25. “We’re a really tight knit group. Every guy is a competitor.
  “We don’t like to lose. The coaches have put us in the right position to be successful and allowing us to play to our strengths.”
  At first, Alexander appeared to be a square flywheel in the team’s machinery. Alexander played on the attack and in the midfield in high school and was ranked seventh in program history in assists (48) and 10th in points (95) while playing as a midfielder for Ohio State from 2010-2013.
  When he was drafted 33rd overall by the Machine in the 2013 MLL draft, Alexander learned he was going to be playing more of a defensive role. He wasn’t surprised. All he had to do was look at the team’s roster. The Machine’s offense consists of three Tewaaraton Trophy winners with Peter Baum (2012) and Kyle Harrison (2005) in the midfield and Steele Stanwick (2011) on the attack. Additionally, the team has two Tewaaraton finalists in midfielder Tom Schreiber (2013) and attacker Marcus Holman (2012 and 2013).
  “We’re pretty good at that end,” Alexander said with a laugh. “As soon as I was drafted, they told me (I’d be playing defense). It didn’t really matter to me. I’ll play wherever they need me to play. You either embrace change or you don’t play. I choose to embrace that role and play to the best of my ability.
  “My role is to play defense, get the ball to the attack as fast as possible and push the transition.  I know it helps the team. The team has my back whenever I make a mistake and that allows me to play hard and play fast.”
  Last year Alexander earned the team’s Oil Can Award after scooping up 31 ground balls and scoring seven points as a wing on face offs. Alexander’s numbers took a slight dip to two assists and nine ground balls through the first 11 games this season after the Machine picked up Brian Karalunas in a trade and inserted the former Boston Cannon midfielder to the wing spot on face offs.
  However Machine coach Bear Davis credits Alexander as being “a big part of who we are as a program.”
  “Niq is one of the most prolific d-mids in the league,” Davis added. “His athletic ability is unmatched. His high energy on and off the field is contagious.”
  Alexander attributes his work ethic to his parents Charles, a correctional officer who never missed a day of work in 20 years, and Valerie Alexander, a postal officer supervisor.
  “Working hard prepares you for life,” he said.” There were definitely some hard learned lessons (growing up) but I definitely appreciate it now.”
  Work ethic is a skill set that will carry a player in the MLL. Lacrosse players are unlike players in nearly every other professional sport. Most of the players have other jobs and nearly never practice together until the day before a contest.
  Alexander, who will start working as a gym teacher and an assistant coach with the freshman football and boys lacrosse teams at Olentangy High School this fall, said it’s a player’s individual responsibility to get themselves ready for games.
  “(Lacrosse is) unique in the fact that you have to find your own time to work out. I definitely have a beneficial schedule during the summer,” he said. “I live near the Ohio State campus and being an alumnus, they allow me to come back and work out with some of the strength and conditioning coaches. It makes my job a lot easier. I coach lacrosse during the week so I always have a stick in my hand.
  “It all goes back to knowing your roles. When you are away from your team, you are working on what your role is, whether it is shooting the ball or getting reps in the weight room or working on your conditioning. So by the time you get there on Friday before a game, you are just fine tuning things. You’re not trying to play catch-up.”