6/3/10 3:19 PM
Toronto Week Four Preview
After yet another loss, the Nationals are now 0-3 and in need of a spark similar to the one that made them Major League Lacrosse champions last season. Toronto fell to 0-3 after a 15-12 loss at the hands of the Denver Outlaws, who are tied for first in the league with a 2-1 record. Last week players and coaches reiterated that it was simply too early to be worried about their season, but after their third straight loss the tides may be starting to shift for the Nationals.
Toronto lost to Denver in Week 3 despite a breakout five point effort from midfielder Brett Bucktooth. Bucktooth had four goals on the day, one of which was a two pointer. The Nationals did not play particularly poorly, they just needed to make a few more plays, but Toronto seems to be on the right path.
“To win in this league you need to improve each week. We did not do that from Week 1 to Week 2, but did improve from Week 2 to Week 3,” said Toronto head coach Dave Huntley. “We will start winning and keep winning once we get consistent improvement from week to week.”
While the defense has been solid for Toronto, aside from a 25 goal outpouring by Chesapeake in Week 2, the offense has been a different story. Toronto is currently ranked last in shots, shots on goal, faceoffs won, faceoff percentage, groundballs, and goals scored. The Nationals are looking up at the rest of the league in just about every major offensive category, which is not a great recipe for success. Toronto also has only one player in the league’s top 22 in points scored this season- John Grant Jr. is tied for seventh in the MLL with 11 points.
“We have to get on track before we get back on track. We played two good games wrapped around a poor one,” Huntley said.
They still have nine games remaining in the season, but Toronto must keep in mind that no team in MLL history has ever started 0-3 and gone on to win the title. Never mind 0-4, but the Nationals are not a team worried about history seeing as 2010 is only their second season in the league.
Toronto will look to get back on track this Saturday when the Chicago Machine come to town. Chicago is a dangerous team, fresh off a 17-14 win over the previously white hot Chesapeake Bayhawks. Chicago is now tied for first place in the MLL with Chesapeake, Boston and Denver, all with records of 2-1.
The key to slowing down the Machine will be limiting the ever-dangerous Leveille brothers. Kevin Leveille is the latest MLL Offensive Player of the Week after notching five points in the win over the Bayhawks last weekend. Kevin hardly wasted any time, scoring his first goal just 11 seconds into the contest. Mike Leveille is no slouch either, totaling a goal and an assist in the victory last week. Kevin is a scorer in the truest sense of the word; he has scored at least 27 goals in each of his six seasons in the league, four of those years reaching 35 goals.
“We did a pretty good job on Kevin and Mike the first time out, but let’s face it they are still going to put up points,” Huntley said. “We need to do a better job on the lesser known guys this week.”
Toronto will have to limit the Machine’s dynamic scoring options, while also trying to climb out of its own offensive woes thus far. The Nats are also looking for a little revenge this weekend after dropping their season opener to Chicago by the score of 16-9.
“The key last week was to compete. We did and came up a little bit short because we made some poor decisions,” Huntley said. “This week we need to continue to compete and be a little smarter.”
The Nationals will be looking for their first win of the season this Saturday June 5 when they host the Chicago Machine. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at Lamport Stadium in Toronto, ONTARIO.