The Chicago Machine opened its 2008 season with a franchise first win on Sunday at Toyota Park in front of 1860 fans. A grind it out offense and a rigid defense preserved the win, especially with Mike Gabelís key save with about 18 seconds left in the game to stuff a roll from the right side by San Franciscoís Liam Banks. Gabel had 19 saves in the game, and was acrobatic in turning away Dragon shots. The pipes helped Gabelís cause as well as twice the Dragon offense hit the pipes instead of the net.
Chicago established an early rhythm in the game with Pat Heim getting the best of Matt Valone with an overhand shot from the left side at 13:58 and then Kevin Leveille beat Vallone with a dump from Eric Pittard on the right side at 8:35 to go up 2-0. Chicago moved the ball around well and pushed in to the goal from the wings in the early periods. Chicago newcomers Mat Dasinger, Brian Clayton, Greg Rommel and Robert Smith all saw action, with Smith contributing well on defense garnering 4 ground balls and Dasinger notching a goal and Rommel getting an assist.
San Francisco tied the game 2-2 at the end of the first quarter and the Machine regained the lead in the second quarter with four goals to the Dragons 2 and went into the half ahead 6-4. Unfortunately the Chicago defense lapsed in the third quarter and let the Dragons back in the game and into the lead with four goals to lead 8-7. Mat Cassalia rolled in from the top to the right side at 8:09 and beat Gabel for San Franís 5th goal and then Jake Byrne was fed by Eric Martin on a similar cut across the goal at 5:54 to tie the game at 6. Greg Gurenlian then hurried straight to the crease through the center unmolested to put the Dragons up 7-6 at 5:29 with a right side overhand shot. Then, Tim booth followed suite, also with a run straight up the center at Gabel to make it 8-6. Chicago got back on track with Matt Dasingerís solo first time goal as a member of Chicago with 2:39 left in the quarter to narrow the lead to 8-7.
Jake Deane rallied Chicago by taking the ball straight from the face with his longstick and crashing through the hole to beat Vallone with a right handers at 14:44 to tie it at 8-8. Brad Heritage and Leveille scored for Chicago to give the Machine a 10-8 lead with 9:58 to go in the game. Tim Booth then nailed the net for the second time to narrow the lead to 10-8 at 7:54. The Machine defense held the Dragons at bay giving them only looks from the outside and taking away the backside rolls. One breakdown occurred in the last minute when San Francisco stripped the ball and moved on the Chicago net with a minute to play. Banks took a pass on the right side and pushed, then dropped back and then went inside on his defender, seeking to hit inside the far pipe. Gabel stepped in front of the shot, anticipating the far poke instead of the near side, and snapped a clear pass at the 0:24 mark which the Machine rode out to take their first ever season-opening MLL win.
One laudatory note to the game, was that the owners are honoring Illinois high school teams at each game. For this game, the high school team based in the city were honored, and these teams included Mather, Lane Tech, Northside Prep, Taft, St. Ignatius and IHSLA newcomer, Harlan.
|Kevin Leveille||(3, 0)|
|Eric Pittard||(1, 1)|
|Brad Heritage||(2, 0)|
|Pat Heim||(2, 0)|
|Matthew Dasinger||(1, 0)|
|Doug Shanahan||(0, 1)|
|Greg Rommel||(0, 1)|
|Jeff Bigas||(0, 1)|
|Jake Deane||(1, 0)|
|Mike Gabel||19 (0.679)|