Chicago Machine’s Coach B.J. O’Hara knows how to win. In 2008 O’Hara led the Rochester Rattlers to the franchise’s first Major League Lacrosse Championship. In his first season as the head coach of the Chicago Machine O’Hara already has the franchise, which won three games last year, on the right track. Last Saturday the Machine won their first game of the season by defeating the defending MLL Champions, the Toronto Nationals, 16-9.
The Machine were led by the Levielle brothers who each tallied two goals and one assist on the day. Attackman Kevin Levielle cites O’Hara’s experience as a key reason for the Machine’s victory. “[Coach O’Hara] has a ton of experience in the league, having coached Rochester, he’s really good with the guys, he knows how much to coach everyone and knows when to let us play,” Leveille said. “He’s also really good at making adjustments on the fly.”
The Machine will need to make adjustments on the fly this Saturday as they face reigning league MVP Paul Rabil and the Boston Cannons. Last week the Cannons defeated the Denver Outlaws by a score of 16-13. The Cannons move to 1-0 on the season despite not having Rabil, who was finishing up the NLL season with the Washington Stealth.
Along with Rabil, the Machine will also have to focus on Midfielder Matt Poskay who tallied four goals and one assist against the Outlaws. Chicago will look to Defenseman Steve Whittenberg to control Rabil and Poskay. Wittenberg had an outstanding performance last week against the Nationals leading scorer John Grant Jr.
Defensemen Greg Bice and Joe Smith also contribute to a defense which allowed Toronto only 14 shots on goal. Chicago will also look to their Goalies Bud Petit and Mike Gabel to continue their strong efforts in the cage. Combined the goalies only allowed eight goals while recording seven saves.
On the offensive end the Machine will look to continue to spread out the ball. Last week eight different players contributed a goal for Chicago. Levielle believes that Chicago’s depth allows them to open up the offense.
“We have a lot of great midfielders who can really get up and down the field,” Levielle said. “We’ve also thrown in some more of our defensive guys and we all came into camp in good shape. Having that going for us definitely allowed us to attack from different places especially from midfield with a lot of different guys contributing.”
The Machine will have to contend with Cannons Goalie Kip Turner who recorded 14 saves on 26 shots against Denver. Leveille also believes that a large key to the game revolves around the faceoff.
“We did well against the faceoff against Toronto so hopefully we can continue to do that,” Leveille said. “Obviously Chris Eck is one of the better faceoff guys in the league and in the world. But I think Anthony Kelly can definitely do well against him and we also have Doug Shannahan to take some of the draws as well.”
Chicago hopes to rebound from last year when they lost three games to the Cannons by a combined score of 55-35. Leveille believes this time will be different, “I think it’s going to be a battle and I think it’s going to be an up and down game, and a high scoring game. We plan to come out with a W for sure.”