Being down 5-1 in the Suffolk County Class A finals didn’t scare the Patriots — it fueled them.
According to senior Eddie Munoz, Ward Melville coaches say lacrosse is a game of runs, and all the team needed was a run to get back in it.
So Ward Melville’s Zach Hobbes scored twice in a four-run spurt across the end of the first half and beginning of the second, and Munoz capped it off with an unassisted goal to tie the game, en route to a 9-8 win for Ward Melville over Smithtown East May 31.
“Down 5-1 is tough to come back from, but we made our run at the right time,” Munoz said. “And we didn’t stop.”
After senior Mike Marino scored off an assist from senior Mike Latini for Smithtown East, Munoz was quick to help tie it up again, when he scored his hat trick goal off a pass from Hobbes. Senior Dominic Pryor scored next off a feed from classmate Andrew Lockhart, but Smithtown East senior Connor DeSimone tied it up for
DeSimone was held off the scoreboard besides one assist, thanks to Ward Melville senior Andrew McKenna, who was tasked with guarding one of Long Island’s leading goal scorers.
“I know he’s a very good player, but I’ve [gone up against] a lot of good players,” McKenna said. “He’s one of Long Island’s best, but knowing I have a great defense around me and a great goalkeeper behind me in Perry Cassidy made me all the more confident.”
Watching his defenseman lean in to help with a dodge on the next play, Munoz said he decided to step into it, hoping Pryor would find him with a pass. With little time to think, Munoz decided to send the ball to senior Noah Kepes, who finished his shot to put Ward Melville back on top, 8-7.
“When Dom passed the ball, I knew I was a little far out, so I took one glance at the crease in my windup, I saw Noah there and I couldn’t not pass it to him,” Munoz said. “It was a great catch, a great handle and a great finish.”
Senior Jack Purdy tacked on an empty netter for what the Patriots thought would be an insurance goal, but Smithtown East’s Dominic Pizzulli found the netting with 22.1 seconds left, and Ward Melville’s defense was able to hold the Bulls off after senior Brian Herber’s faceoff win.
“We were resilient,” McKenna said. “Down 5-1 we still went out there and competed, gave 100 percent on every play and played good, hard, smart lacrosse.”
He said it’s been a dream ever since he was a kid to make it to this point in his senior year with his longtime Patriots surrounding him, and they agreed.
“We needed to get back here,” Munoz said. “I couldn’t let us lose today. This is a dream come true.”