Guy playing lacrosse

Kyle Harrison is looking to add a Steinfeld Cup to his trophy case.

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Machine

There’s a void in Kyle Harrison’s trophy case. The Ohio Machine midfielder has won championships at every level.

Every level but one.

In high school, Harrison led Friends of Baltimore to two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships. In college, he helped Johns Hopkins University win its eighth national title with a 9-8 win over Duke in the 2005 championship.

However, there’s a dust ring reserved for the Steinfield Cup, the trophy awarded for the Major Lacrosse League championship. Harrison has come close, guiding the Denver Outlaws to the 2009 championship game before losing to Toronto Nationals 9-8 in the finals. The past two seasons, the Machine has fallen in the semifinals, losing to Rochester Rattlers 12-8 last year and 15-11 in 2014.

“You can’t look at it that way or you will drive yourself insane,” said Harrison, whose team is 6-4 overall after losing to the Rattlers 16-13 on June. 25. “(But at the same time) the ultimate team goal is to win a championship.

“We have a great group of guys and we care about one thing. We’re not trying to break any stat records or personal goals. Everyone’s goal is to win the championship. If you’re in a team sport, what else is there to accomplish? We’re laser focused on trying to accomplish that.”

Ten games into the season, the Machine is working on shoring up their position for making the playoffs. With two straight losses, Ohio dropped to fourth place behind front-running New York Lizards (6-2 overall), the Rattlers (5-3), and the Charlotte Hounds (5-3) as of June 27. The top four teams make the playoffs.

The past two years, the Machine has been holding its breath onwhether it would make the playoffs.

“Over the last two years, we’ve been in a position where we had to win out just make the postseason,” said Harrison who had two goals in the loss to the Rattlers. “We’re not in yet by any stretch of the imagination but our backs aren’t against the wall.

“In the past, it was always in the back of your head on every play, ‘Oh gosh I can’t screw up. We have to win this game or we’re out.’ We put ourselves in a better position than we have been in the past but I don’t think it has changed our mentality or how hard we work.”
Harrison is trying to get back into the flow of things after missing three games after tearing his hamstring in a 14-7 win over Boston on May 21. He was scheduled to return on June 18, the day before Father’s Day. That return date was somehow fitting for Harrison, whose father Miles greatly influenced his playing career.

“Once I could walk and move, I got a stick and started playing,” said Harrison, who was a three-time All-American, won the McLaughlin Award as the nation’s top midfielder in 2004 and 2005 and captured the Tewaaraton Trophy as the national collegiate player of the year in 2005.

Miles Harrison was somewhat of a lacrosse pioneer. In 1970, he was a part of the first lacrosse team at a traditional African-American college, Morgan State.

Kyle said he’s glad he didn’t have to endure some of the racial oppression his father went through.

“It’s funny. It’s not that I didn’t think a lot about (what his dad went through) when I was growing up. But as you get older, you realize the magnitude of it,” Harrison said. “As I got older, I remember the stories my dad told me about what he and his teammates went through and what a crazy time it was in our country.

“If you talk to any black athletes at the time, you’ll hear the same stories – things being thrown at them or words being said as they walkedout into the field. I am lucky. Whether it is playing in the MLL or in the world games, I have never had a negative racial experience happen to me.”

“It gives me a sense of pride and I wanted to carry that on. Hopefully I am showing a lot of other black kids across the country that this sport is an option for them.”

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