June 11, 2010

MLL Week 5 Preview: Machine’s Karma Kicks In

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Brett Garber's buzzer-beating deuce last week exalted the Machine, which a third of the way through its road show needs just one more win to set a franchise record.

The erstwhile Chicago Machine has found quite a niche on the road.

The Machine, no longer in Chicago after Major League Lacrosse could not come to terms on an ownership agreement for the franchise there, is 3-1 in its season-long road show. Tied for first place with Chesapeake and Denver, the Machine is also just one win shy of its single-season record.

Success in these situations is hardly unprecedented. The former Philadelphia Barrage went 7-5 and qualified for the MLL playoffs in 2008 despite logging over 18,000 miles in travel.

But still, the Machine? After an 0-12 inaugural campaign in 2006, the team went 3-9 for three consecutive seasons -- even with more concentrated talent after the MLL contracted to six teams in 2009.

The newfound good karma found its way into Brett Garber’s stick last week. Garber’s two-point goal at the buzzer lifted the Machine to a 14-13 win last Saturday in Toronto.

It continued on American Eagle Flight 4513 carrying U.S. national team players Kevin Leveille, Mike Leveille, Matt Striebel and DJ Driscoll -- the MLL Defensive Player of the Week. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its two engines had to be shut down due to a leak, but Team USA’s four Machine players landed safely in Elmira, N.Y.

What’s more, the Machine stocked up in the collegiate draft, nabbing Duke’s Ned Crotty -- the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy winner and another Team USA standout -- with the No. 1 overall selection. Its other selections: Martin Cahill (Delaware), Diogo Godoi (Massachusetts), Justin Pennington (Rutgers), Ari Sussman (Dartmouth), Joe Marra (Fairfield) and Casey Grugan (Cabrini).

On Saturday, the Machine heads to Albany -- another test market for the MLL -- for a game against the struggling Long Island Lizards. It will be a homecoming for the Leveille brothers, who hail from Delmar, just outside Albany.

Does this underscore the rise of lacrosse in the Albany area? The University at Albany men’s lacrosse team has faltered a bit in the last few seasons, but New York’s capital region continues to produce top talent.

The local lacrosse community is also abuzz over Great Danes coach Scott Marr, who is reported to be a candidate for the opening at Maryland.

The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com.


Denver (3-1) at Boston (2-2) – Saturday 3 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Outlaws have won three straight since their season-opening loss to the Cannons, with a nationally televised rematch on tap. Denver tried to shore up its defense in the draft, selecting Ken Clausen (Virginia) and Dillon Roy (Denver), as well as faceoff specialist Andrew Hennesey (Bryant). Currently, Will Dalton is taking the majority of draws in the absence of injured Shane Walterhoeffer.

Denver’s offense is rolling behind Brendan Mundorf, Matt Brown and Max Seibald. Boston answers with Matt Poskay (league-leading 16 goals), Ryan Boyle and Paul Rabil, who returns to action after his ejection last week for throwing a punch at Chesapeake’s Michael Evans (his former teammate at Johns Hopkins). Add first-round draft pick and hometown boy Max Quinzani (Duke) to that mix. It’ll be interesting to see how Quinzani’s off-ball abilities supplement Boyle’s vision.

Chesapeake (3-1) at Toronto (0-4) – Saturday 7 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

Cody Jamieson can’t dress soon enough for the Nationals, whose anemic offense has done nothing to help an inconsistent defense. The former Syracuse standout will likely make his debut, as will NCAA tournament hero Scott Rodgers, who’s likely to split time with Brett Queener between the pipes. The duo hopes to do a better job containing the Bayhawks, who put up 25 goals on the departed Doc Schneider and Queener in a May 22 loss.

Alex Smith also crushed Stephen Hoar on faceoffs that game (34-of-39), as the Nats were without Geoff Snider. Look for a more hotly contested affair there, as Smith’s and Snider’s first dance of 2010 will serve as a prelude to the world championships, where they’ll play for Team USA and Team Canada, respectively.

Long Island (1-3) vs. Machine (3-1) (in Albany, N.Y.) – Saturday 8 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

Is a goalie controversy afoot for the Machine? Mike Gabel has been a stalwart for the franchise, but his 13.20 goals against average and .441 save percentage does not necessarily inspire confidence. Bud Petit, the former Virginia goalie who had success in Boston, has fared better with an 11.33 goals against average and .564 save percentage, but he’s logged just 90 minutes compared to Gabel’s 150. The Machine also landed Doc Schneider in a draft-day deal with Toronto and added rookie goalkeeper Joe Marra (Fairfield) late in the draft.

Long Island must be happy to see an opponent other than Denver. The Lizards have lost to the Outlaws twice already this season. Last week’s 15-10 loss moved Long Island to 0-7 all-time against Denver. The Lizards have managed an MLL-low 38 goals. The most notable no-show: Zack Greer. After an injury hampered his rookie campaign, he has just three goals in four games. Long Island will look to ride its more consistent defense, with Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco drawing the Leveille brothers.

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