8/6/10 8:31 AM
By: Dan Kopf
Last week Chicago set out to become the first team in franchise history to advance to Championship Weekend. The Machine only trailed the Chesapeake Bayhawks by two at the beginning of the second half but soon found themselves down by 11 goals after surrendering ten goals in the third quarter. The Machine’s third quarter collapse resulted in a 20-12 victory for Chesapeake as well as the fourth and final spot in Championship weekend.
This week the Machine now find themselves eliminated from the playoffs as they travel to Denver to face the playoff bound Outlaws. Despite the disappointing performance in last week’s game, Machine Defenseman D.J. Driscoll knows his teammates will still come out determined to win. “It definitely comes down to pride. We want to increase our win total,” Driscoll said. “We’ve already beaten Denver once. We just want to show them that we deserve to be here too and that there’s no real quit in our team.”
Even though the Machine find themselves out of playoff contention their season has been filled with franchise firsts. On Saturday the team will look to earn a franchise record fifth win. A fifth win would help turn around the losing culture that has plagued the franchise over the last couple of years. At the beginning of the season Driscoll’s biggest goal was to instill winning ways to the perennial losing franchise. “My biggest goal was to get that monkey off our back. I didn’t want us to be the doormat of our league anymore,” Driscoll said.
Drsicoll’s winning mentality carried over through the first part of the season when the Machine opened up with a blistering 3-1 start. A week five overtime loss to the Long Island Lizards sent the Machine on a downward spiral. Despite losing their last three games the Machine did have several bright spots over that span.
Perhaps the brightest was the play of star rookie Ned Crotty. After being picked by the team with the number one pick in the MLL draft, Crotty made an immediate impact on the field. Crotty leads all rookies in assists (12) and points (20), while also dazzling the competition with his countless highlight reel plays. The Leveille brothers also continued their high level of play. Mike leads the team in points with 34 while Kevin was right behind him with 33.
The group’s mixture of veterans and youth was one of the reasons the team felt that this was the year for them to win the Championship. “When we got together in the preseason, I remember (Chris) Rotelli saying that all he wanted to do was win a championship,” Driscoll said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen. We had some key injuries but all and all it was a step in the right direction.”
The Machine will continue to take that step towards next year when they face Denver at 3 p.m. EST at INVESCO field. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.com.
2010 Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend presented by Warrior
August 21-22, Annapolis, MD
For information and tickets go to www.majorleaguelacrosse.com