Tags Posts tagged with "Connor Grippe"

Connor Grippe

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Owen McAvoy gets checked while trying to create an open lane during Ward Melville's semifinal win over Lakeland-Panas. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville is used to playing defense — it’s the name of the Patriots’ game.

But the boys’ lacrosse team became fatigued as Victor High School’s faceoff specialist T.D. Ierlan won 13 of 16 draws to give the undefeated Blue Devils a huge advantage in time of possession, and ultimately lead them to a comeback win in the New York State Class A final, 7-5, Saturday afternoon at Middletown High School.

Dylan Pallonetti drives to the crease during Ward Melville's semifinal win over Lakeland-Panas. Photo by Bill Landon
Dylan Pallonetti drives to the crease during Ward Melville’s semifinal win over Lakeland-Panas. Photo by Bill Landon

“It sucks when you know you’re in the good old days yet it still flies by,” senior midfielder and attack Owen McAvoy lamented on Twitter following the loss. “I’ll never forget this team.”

With 5:35 left in the first quarter, Ward Melville freshman attack Dylan Pallonetti put his team on the board, followed by junior attack Dominic Pryor, who found the back of the net from the left side of the cage, to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead after 12 minutes.

Senior attack and midfielder Connor Grippe bounced in a good goal before Victor scored unassisted with its first goal of the game for a 3-1 halftime advantage over a team that averaged 16 goals per game up to that point.

Victor proved why it is undefeated though, and scored three unanswered goals before Grippe moved the ball to the middle and stretched the netting unassisted, to knot the game at four goals apiece with 5:08 left in the third.

The teams remained in a stalemate until the fourth, when junior attack Eddie Munoz rocketed a shot between the pipes from up top to give the Patriots a 5-4 advantage, but again, the Blue Devils proved what they are really made of.

The Patriots went over eight minutes without an offensive touch, and tried four different guys at faceoff, but couldn’t get the ball. The Blue Devils rallied back with three more unanswered scores for the win.

“And just like that, my high school sports days are over,” senior defender John Day posted on Twitter. “It’s been real, Melville.”

Chirs Grillo fires at the cage for the score in Ward Melville's semifinal win over Lakeland-Panas. Photo by Bill Landon
Chirs Grillo fires at the cage for the score in Ward Melville’s semifinal win over Lakeland-Panas. Photo by Bill Landon

Victor, which was the Class B state champion last year with a win over Manhasset, proved that moving up a class could not bring the team down, as the Blue Devils are currently riding a 44-game winning steak into next season.

Maryann Holsberg took to Twitter to voice her opinion of Ward Melville this season.

“[Ward Melville lacrosse], [Connor Grippe], you played with heart and made the Patriots family proud,” she wrote.

Senior defender Sean Thornton also lamented about the fact that the Patriots’ defensive unit will be split up next year.

“I don’t wanna believe that I just had my last high school lacrosse game today,” he wrote. “Love you boys.”

Despite the loss, and the many losses Ward Melville may realize next year without its 16 seniors it will have to replace following graduation this June, some of those current seniors are confident in the team’s ability to get back to the state finals next season.

“Thank you for the memories,” senior attack Chris Grillo wrote. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other group of guys. Take it down next year boys.”

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D.J. Kellerman said the Syosset fans kept him entertained all night.

“I don’t even want to repeat it,” he said of what his opponent’s fans were shouting to him while between the pipes. “Everyone was frustrated with me and my defense, our offense and our faceoff guy — we just dominated.”

The Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse team held Syosset to its lowest amount of goals in two years, outscoring the team 9-5 for the Patriots’ 17th Class A Long Island championship title on June 4 at Hofstra University.

Kellerman made 11 saves and the defense was smothering, silencing fans quickly as Ward Melville jumped out to a 4-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

“I was dialed in,” Kellerman said. “We pride ourselves on our defense. We elevate our play from each other and that’s why this unit is successful.”

Both teams came out with intensity, but with Ward Melville’s leveled offense, four different players were able to score while Kellerman made three saves before Sysosset got on the board. Kellerman made his final save of the first half with 8.2 seconds left during a man-down situation.

“We wanted to jump out early on them,” said junior midfielder Eddie Munoz, who earned a hat trick. “We got the momentum going and then, when they made defensive stops, it got us a little juiced up and motivated to put some more goals in. Every time they get a little bit of life, you’ve got to take it right back and my teammates found me the open looks.”

Kellerman made another big-time save with seconds left in the third stanza, and Munoz followed it up with scoring seconds into the fourth, off an assist from senior attack and midfielder Connor Grippe.

“This is the greatest day of my life right now — I said that on Wednesday when we won counties, but this is 10 times better,” said Grippe, who finished with two goals and two assists. “Each game I come in with an open mind, not thinking about it being my last game, but thinking ‘on to the next one.’”

He too thought his team’s defense, with help from players like Kellerman, John Day, Andrew McKenna and Sean Thornton, were key in the game plan to take the title home.

“These guys lock out every single opponent,” he said, also noting the correlation between the defense and offense’s success. “Once the defense makes the stops, it gets us going and it’s a recipe for success.”

What head coach Jay Negus said is the reason for his Patriots’ triumph, on top of the team’s defensive coach and the boys executing his game plan, is the Patriots’ progress.

“The effort, the heart and the accepting of all of the things we throw at them on a daily basis to rise them to the level they need to be at — to see their growth from the first day of practice to now — they really are peaking at the right time,” he said. “I told the guys we need to absorb [Syosset’s] energy because this is a game of momentum and we need to dig in and then counter attack, and we did a good job of doing that today.”

But as Negus said, and the boys know, it’s back to work until the team takes on Lakeland-Panas in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. on June 8 at Hofstra University.

But Munoz just wanted to bask in the moment a little longer.

“Last year a lot of people said we had a better team, but I feel like this year it’s been more of a team effort, and it feels really good to come back here,” Munoz said. “This is where we belong, and we’re going to be here for a while.”

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Patriots have now won 24 county titles in 38 appearances

By Bill Landon

The bitter taste of last year’s devastating loss in the Suffolk County championship game to Smithtown West was replaced with the sweet taste of victory Wednesday night, after the Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse team lit up the scoreboard early and often on the way to a 13-5 win over Connetquot for the Class A crown.

Senior attack Chris Grillo scored his hat trick goal less than a minute into the second quarter, to put his team out front 5-0. Senior midfielder Connor Grippe and junior midfielder Dominic Pryor each tallied a goal. Grippe followed up Grillo with an unassisted goal for a 6-0 advantage, before Connetquot put its first point on the board with 7:16 remaining in the first half.

“After that devastating loss last year, we worked our tails off during the off season because we knew we didn’t have the super star talent that we had in years past,” Grippe said. “We don’t have one go-to guy, we have six, and Chris Grillo had an outstanding game. Five goals — that’s what we needed.”

With just over two minutes left before the break, Grillo struck again, and junior attack Andrew Lockhart split the pipes to take an 8-1 advantage into the third.

“We lost to them earlier in the season in overtime,” Grillo said. “We came out flat on offense in that game, defensively we played okay, but we beat ourselves [that day]. We had a lot of injuries and [we battled] the flu in that game, so to come back at full strength was just huge.”

Ward Melville’s defensive unit controlled the Connetquot attackers as they struggled to find an open lane, and had few shots on goal.

Four minutes in, Connetquot scores its second goal of the game, but a minute later the Patriots rattled off three unanswered goals, capped off by Grillo’s fifth goal of the game, to stretch the lead to 11-2.

Connetquot found the net once more, but Ward Melville junior Eddie Munoz stretched the net to edge ahead 12-3 to begin the final 12 minutes of play. The midfielder said he was confident in his team’s ability to take it home this year, despite the Patriots’ season getting off to a rocky start.

“I knew our team had championship potential and I knew we had it in us,” he said. Emphasizing the total team potential to go far. “Today everyone played well, not just one guy. Our defense held together to the end and our offense was shooting to the back of the net making [Connetquot’s] goalie earn every save, which weren’t too many.”

The Patriots let up two late goals in the game, like the team did against Walt Whitman in the semifinals, but Ward Melville was still able to take home its 24th county title in 38 appearances.

“We lost a lot in the beginning of the season — we didn’t have an identity — but now we’re starting to peak and our identity is starting to poke through,” Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus said. “I have to take my hat off to both my assistant coaches, they did a great job preparing defensively — that’s been our strength all year, and our offense came to play today. And I’ll tell you, we can be really dangerous when that happens.”

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Patriots defeat Walt Whitman in semifinals, 9-3, to make it back to final round

The game may not have started off the way they wanted, but it sure did end like it.

The No. 4 Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse team turned a no-score first-quarter Wednesday into a 4-1 halftime lead, and held No. 8 Walt Whitman scoreless until the final seconds of the game, earning a trip back to the Suffolk County Class AA finals with a 9-3 win.

“We’re really excited,” junior midfielder Dominic Pryor said. “We worked so hard for this all season and we can’t wait for counties.”

After the first, senior attack and midfielder Connor Grippe said his team knew it needed to figure out a way to turn things around.

“The first quarter we didn’t play Ward Melville lacrosse,” he said. “Our coaches keep preaching to us to play a full four quarters and we really came back and put it all together. We were hitting our shots, we were moving the ball, our defense played outstanding, our goalie D.J. Kellerman played a hell of a game and we won the faceoffs.”

Grippe said the coaches made some adjustments to the Patriots’ pre-existing zone plays, which helped them get some open shots and inside looks.

Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus credits his assistant coaches Chris Murphy and Chris Muscarella for the turnaround.

“The defense has been outstanding, the faceoffs have been outstanding — and it’s because of them and the kids buying into what they’re talking about,” he said. “Our offense did a nice job once they started clicking to relieve some of that pressure, but I’m so appreciative of the two assistant coaches I have because they really, on the defensive end of the field, do an outstanding job.”

Junior goalkeeper Kellerman made two saves in the first, and tipped another shot upward to open the second. At the 8:18 mark the Patriots’ opponent finally found the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead.

The Patriots’ intensity was there in the first, but it didn’t match that of the Wildcats. On top of that, dropped passes in the offensive zone and turnovers all over the field deflated the team. But that all changed in the second quarter.

The Patriots pride themselves on their defense, and the boys held it down on that end of the field following the first goal.

At the 4:35 mark, the offense repaid the defense for its hard work, when Grippe fired a shot from 10 yards out to tie the game. He then assisted freshman attack Dylan Pallonetti on his shot from the same position, but on the opposite side of the cage.

“Once we got one, we rallied from there,” Pallonetti said. “I feel like we did a great job riding and clearing. Our defense did great. They stripped the ball a lot, got the ball in the offensive zone and then we did our job.”

At the 1:51 mark, Pryor snagged a rebound off a save in mid-air and buried the ball for a 3-1 lead.

“As soon as we figured out their defense, we started putting in goals and that’s really when we started rolling and knew what we needed to do the rest of the game,” he said.

Junior attack Andrew Lockhart forced a turnover and, on a fast break, fed the ball to Pallonetti in front of the net for what proved to be the game-winner to end the scoring for the first half.

Grippe added two more assists on the night, Pryor scored his second goal and Lockart, Eddie Munoz, Chris Grillo and Zach Hobbes each added a goal. With 33 seconds left, Walt Whitman managed to score back-to-back goals but ran out of time to make a comeback.

“Last year we unfortunately lost in the counties in double overtime, so anything for us to get back to that position is great, and hopefully we’ll come out on top,” Grippe said.

Ward Melville is back in a familiar position, but this time faces a new opponent. Smithtown East topped the Patriots last season, but since the Bulls fell to Connetquot in overtime in the their semifinal game on Wednesday, Ward Melville will instead be facing that team, to whom they lost twice in overtime the last two seasons.

“I definitely think we will have to adjust,” Grippe said. “It’s a revenge game for us. We’re always fired up to play them, they’re a big rival and it should be a good game.”

He said their faceoff player is arguably one of the best in the county, so his team will need to game plan to stop him and limit transitions.

Negus said his team will be prepared for its June 1 matchup at Stony Brook University at 8 p.m. against what will be an athletic, strong opponent.

“We can’t take them lightly, and we’ll be ready,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of depth, but we’re watching them on film and we’ll continue to look for their tendencies. We have some tricks up our sleeve. As a No. 4 seed a lot of people were looking past us and when we execute on both sides of the ball we can be a very dangerous team.”