Chicago Machine vs. San Francisco Dragons
May 18, 2008
The Game Story:
Mike Gabel stopped 18 of the 27 shots he faced Sunday, but none was more important than save number 19, the one that preserved Chicago’s 10-9 season-opening win against San Francisco. The Dragons’ Liam Banks made a strong inside roll dodge, but the Machine netminder, who was named Bud Light Player of the Game for his effort, closed the door on a tying bid with 32 seconds remaining in regulation.

Despite his heroics, however, Gabel was quick to credit the defensive unit in front of him for his success.

“This is the best defense I have played with in my years of college and professional lacrosse,” he said. “They allowed me to make the saves I had to make.”

While Gabel and the defensive corps of Robert Smith, Steve Whittenberg, Paul Stansik and Jake Deane shut down the Dragons offense, Kevin Leveille sparked the Machine offense with three goals. For Leveille, the effort extended his MLL-record point scoring streak to 36 games, a mark that dates back to the 2004 campaign. Even the Chicago attackman, however, attributed credit for the win to the men on the other side of the field.

“The offense did well, but the defense did a great job,” he said. “They kept us in it the whole way.”

The Dragons put together several runs, including a four-goal barrage in the third quarter, but the Machine defense never let them out of sight. San Francisco built an 8-6 advantage on four unanswered goals to open the second half, but after Matt Dasinger scored for the Machine with 2:39 left in the third, the home team reeled off three more early in the final frame to secure the win.

“Today’s victory was a great success for the franchise and a strong start to the season,” said John Combs after his debut as Chicago’s head coach. “The fans and the children were great support and it’s great to help bring and develop the sport of lacrosse to Illinois.”