Week 12 Preview: Outlaws vs. Machine

8/3/10 2:12 PM

Week 12 Preview: Outlaws vs. Machine

By Heather Crowley, Natalie Adrian, and Liz Alley, Major League Lacrosse

In the final regular season game of 2010, both the Denver Outlaws and the Chicago Machine look to end the regular season with a win. The Outlaws and the Machine are tied in their season series matchups, each having won one game a piece. The first meeting between the two teams on June 25 remained even throughout the game until Chicago ran away in the fourth quarter and won 18-14.  Denver responded with a comeback win against the Machine in the second matchup of the season on July 24, outscoring the Machine 15-11.

The Outlaws, who will make their fifth-straight playoff appearance this season as the No. 2 seed, enter the game attempting to rebound from a 16-5 loss to the Boston Cannons on July 31. Denver’s five goals was the lowest output in the five-year history of the franchise. For the Outlaws, the final game of the season is an important chance to play together as a team and help get back in sync before the Championship Weekend.

“It’s an opportunity to bounce back from playing our worst game of the season and to get better,” Denver head coach Brian Reese said. “The season series doesn’t mean as much as playing better lacrosse going into the playoffs.”

This weekend’s matchups for both Boston and Denver, serve as an opportunity to rest some of their top players, especially those who saw action in the 2010 FIL World Championships before the playoffs in Annapolis, Md.

“I think it’s important that we go into playoffs playing good lacrosse,” Reese said. “We didn’t do that last week so we need to work on things this week.”

The keys to notching an eighth victory for the Outlaws will be goalie Jesse Schwartzman and rookie midfielder Andrew Hennessey. Schwartzman, who has a .524 save percentage this season, will look for redemption after giving up 13 goals to the Cannons. After becoming the team’s primary faceoff specialist, Hennessey is 67-for-145 and has proven that he can play at the professional level. In his previous matchup against Chesapeake ace Alex Smith, Hennessey went 14-for-26 in a 12-10 Outlaws victory.

Chicago is looking to end its season on a high note, after being eliminated by the Chesapeake Bayhawks last week. The Machine will be without their second highest scorer Kevin Leveille, who has 24 goals and nine assists on the season.  The last time Leveille played against the Outlaws he scored four goals and had one assist.

Despite the fact that the final game holds little importance for both the Outlaws and Machine in the standings, it is crucial for Denver to set a positive tone before heading into the playoffs or the Outlaws could have an early exit in the playoffs.

“All I know is, we are going to have to play two very good teams if we want to win a championship,” Reese said. “Long Island is the hottest team in the league right now and we will have to be playing our best lacrosse no matter who we play.”

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