Kevin Leveille has been along for the ride with the Chicago Machine since its inaugural season in 2006. It’s been a long and bumpy process for the Machine beginning with their inaugural season when they didn’t win a game. The only thing constant about the Machine is their 3-9 record the past three seasons and their place at the bottom of the MLL Standings.
The Machine has changed some things up this year in hopes of a new, bright future. The Chicago-based team is playing an all-travel schedule which leaves them without fan base at all of their games. Leveille doesn’t believe it will be negative as the majority of the Machine’s players live relatively far from Chicago, and says it speaks volumes as to the type of players they have. In fact, Leveille is excited to be on the road saying, “it’s kind of fun always being the underdog. We get to see some nice places and play in some new markets.”
The Machine “home” opener was a good start, they defeated the 16-9 defending MLL Champion Toronto Nationals 16-9 in Cary, North Carolina. Leveille contributed two goals and an assist to the victory; he currently has 261 points in 72 career games. Leveille believes the improvement from last season stems from training camp. “Last year our training camp wasn’t as effective so we had to get to know each other throughout the season,” said Leveille. “This year, it’s a lot of the same core back so we started a lot farther ahead.”
Leading the training camp was the Machine’s new head coach, B. J. O’Hara. No stranger to Major League Lacrosse, O’Hara is credited for the success of this year’s training camp. “The setup in training camp was really perfect for what we needed,” Leveille said. The team is happy with Coach O’Hara, Leveille adds, “He knows how far to coach everybody and when to let us play.”
Training camp allowed the players to know each other’s tendencies in strengths. According to Leveille, “that’s the hardest thing to get going in this league because everyone lives in different areas and everyone has different day jobs.” The Machine was able to pick up from last year without adding too many new faces. Leveille feels the longer the team plays together, the better they’ll get; he says, “The tighter you can be as a team, the more it pays off.”
The Machine’s defense must have hit it off in training camp as they only allowed the Toronto offense to just 14 shots on goal last weekend. “We’re really stacked down there at defense,” said Leveille. “We have pretty much the same defense back from last year and they’re really in sync more than anybody.” The strength of the defense allowed the offensive line to play fresh and “attack from a whole lot of different places, especially in the midfield with a lot of guys contributing.” Leveille continued, “We have a lot of great midfielders who really get up and down the field.”
As far as getting ready for Boston, Leveille is excited but thinks Boston will be one of the tougher teams this year. He said, “They play great defense, have a new refreshed attack and Paul Rabil.” The Machine will be sure to keep an eye on Rabil during his first game of the season, but overall they’re focusing on themselves and addressing the weaknesses they showed in week one.
“I think it’s going to be a battle; I think it’s going to be an up and down game; I think it’s going to be a high scoring game,” said Leveille. “We plan to come out with a W for sure.”
If the Chicago Machine win, it will be the first 2-0 start in franchise history.
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