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Lacrosse

Players and professionals work with children with special needs

Ryan was instrumental in facilitating an inclusive lacrosse clinic in Centereach. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

By Leah Chiappino

Sensory Solutions of Long Island, along with Middle Country Boys Lacrosse located in Port Jeff Station, sponsored their first All Inclusive Lacrosse Clinic, a program that pairs special needs children with an experienced player, July 30. The event was what the organization hopes to be the first of many, and is meant to not only teach lacrosse skills, but to build friendship and camaraderie. 

In a statement, the Inclusive Lacrosse League said their mission was to create an inclusive environment “that grows friendships as well as encourages the acceptance of all children. We are hoping to build the foundation where children with disabilities can increase their confidence and social skills through lacrosse, as well as create lifelong memories and positive experiences for all involved.”

With more than fifty children and fifty volunteers, the field at James D. McNaughton Memorial Park in Centereach was split up into stations, one to teach ground ball, another to teach passing and two to teach shooting. Volunteers consisted of high school lacrosse players, coaches, professional players and even some younger kids that play regularly. 

Jeff Reh, a two-time all-American Division I champion at Adelphi University and special education teacher, is president of the program. Having coached lacrosse, he partnered with Regina Giambone, one of four owners of Sensory Solutions, along with Michael Gargiulo, Larry Ryan, and Michelle Boschto, to launch the clinic. He has ideas to expand the program, which include possibly starting a league, or taking the children to Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League games. He says the group received such a positive response, they had to cut down the capacity of participants. 

“Once we know what to expect and how to run things, this will grow and grow,” he said 

There are plans to start fundraising to help expand the program, for which the equipment was donated by Maverik Lacrosse. 

The coach says the work is worth it because of the impact it will have on building relationships for the special needs population. 

“The kids are going to really enjoy getting out of the house and meeting somebody,” he said. “Lacrosse is second. It’s really about the music and hanging out with their friends. They really just want to be part of something.”

Troy Reh, Jeff’s nephew and a player for the Chaos, a Premier Lacrosse League team, volunteered for the event. 

“I’m excited to see their smiles on their faces, and how happy they are to be out here,“ he said.  

Justin Reh, Troy’s twin and New York Lizards lacrosse team player, added, “These kids don’t get to do this every day and for us in our family to be able to give back is very special to us.”

Whitney Wolanski, a parent of one special needs child participating in the program, as well as another child who is volunteering, praised Giambone for her efforts. 

Lacrosse players and professionals help young people with special needs. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

“Regina is amazing, and I can’t say enough nice things about her,” she said. “My son would never get to experience this otherwise. It’s an incredible opportunity for not just the special needs population but for children who don’t have special needs, because if they’re not part of a JV team or varsity team, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to play either.”

Sensory Solutions of Long Island offers not only occupational, physical and speech therapy for the special needs population but also social groups, Zumba classes, art and music. 

“It allows kids to have an outlet in a fun, safe space that is not overwhelming for them,” Gargiulo said. 

Giambone added that the lacrosse clinic will help build bridges for the special needs community. 

“It’s going to help integrate the community because a lot of these kids cannot play sports competitively, and this gives them an opportunity to connect with professional players and the varsity lacrosse team,” she said. “We want to teach awareness and empathy, and at the same time give the kids a good experience.”

Ryan explained that the clinic could begin a wider impact in order to help integrate the special needs population. 

“I hope that those without special needs learn to interact with those who do have special needs and gain a little more understanding so when they see a classmate that’s struggling, they’re going to be more apt to help.”

The Northport Tigers, the Division I No. 3 seed, went to the halftime break protecting a one goal lead, but the Ward Melville Patriots, the No. 2 seed, sparked to life in the 3rd quarter scoring four goals to take the lead for good in the Class A semifinal round winning 11-8 at home May 23.

Junior Jack Gillen led the way for the Patriots scoring three goals with one assist, seniors Dylan Pallonetti had two assists along with two goals and Brandon Aviles found the cage twice.

Sal Micco, a junior, topped the scoring chart for the Tigers stretching the net four times while senior captains Max Napoli and Liam Caulfield had two goals apiece. Northport concludes their 2019 campaign with a 10-5 record, 11-6 overall.

The Patriots will again advance to the Suffolk County championship round at Farmingdale State College May 29 where they’ll face the No.1 seed Smithtown West. Game time is at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 at the gate or can be purchased online for $8 here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

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It was a back and forth battle between the Shoreham-Wading Wildcats and visiting Sayville in the Div-II class C quarterfinal playoff round May 18 with both tied at four goals each at the half. Junior attack Hayden Lachenmeyer scored the go ahead goal for the Wildcats with a seemingly impossible goal for SWR. She lay on the ground but yet managed to get a shot off for the goal. With just over two minutes left, Shoreham-Wading River netted an insurance goal and from there let the clock upwind for a 9-7 victory.

Senior Isabella Meli topped the scoring chart for the Wildcats with an assist and three goals as her younger sister Gabby Meli had an assist and netted two goals. Senior Nicollette Constant scored as did Lachenmeyer with her out-of-nowhere shot while freshman Catherine Erb along with teammate Amanda Padrazo, a junior, had a goal apiece.

The Wildcats as the No. 4 seed advances to the semifinal round and will face top seeded Mount Sinai on the road May 22. Game time is 4 p.m. with a $10 admission ,or tickets can be purchased online for $7at: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXIWildcats advance to semi-finals with one impossible shot

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By Bill Landon

The Harborfields Tornadoes’ girls lacrosse team had a difficult time against visiting Sayville April 9, losing the game 4-5.

The loss puts Harborfields at 3-4 in league and 4-5 overall. The Tornadoes will host West Islip April 17 with a game time set for 4 p.m.

 

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Port Jeff sophomore attack Daniel Koban, right, celebrates with his older brother Nick after Daniel scored one of his three goals against Babylon April 8. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After going down four goals in the opening quarter, Port Jefferson’s boys lacrosse team shifted gears in the second, scoring three goals and then surging in the third quarter and finding the net four times to take a
one -goal lead. Babylon countered in the final 12 minutes of play to retie the game and then scored the go-ahead goal with four minutes left, defeating the Royals 11-10, April 8.

Sophomore attack Daniel Koban and junior Colton VanOverberghe each scored three goals for Port Jeff, while senior midfielder Jonathan Moshe netted two. Junior Jack Speidell and sophomore Gage Jampol also scored one goal apiece.

The loss drops the Royals to 2-4 in league and 4-4 overall in the Division II standings as they approach the midway point of the season with eight games remaining

The Royals continued their road trip against Deer Park April 10. They will be back on their own home turf April 24 when they host Miller Place. Game time is 10 a.m.

By Bill Landon

The Warriors continued their winning ways defeating Hauppauge, 17-4, at home in a Div II matchup April 2. 

The victory extends Comsewogue’s winning streak to four in a row with a record of 4-0 in league, 4-1 overall. Senior attack T.J. Heyder tallied five assists and two goals, and Sean Kennedy recorded three goals and three assists for the Warriors. Senior Chris Wolfe stretched the net three times and Jake Deacy split the pipes twice.

Hauppauge’s Riley Henselder had one goal along with an assist, and Andrew Sellitto, Dylan Sas and Andrew Maiorini also scored.

Comsewogue hits the road on April 6 against Kings Park while Hauppauge retakes the field hosting Harborfields April 4. Game times are scheduled for 10 a.m and 4:30 p.m. respectively. 

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Port Jeff freshman Kyle Scandale passes to Daniel Koban in a non-league victory against Longwood March 23. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Port Jefferson’s boys lacrosse team trailed the Longwood Lions through three quarters, but the Royals got down to business in the final 12 minutes of play, outscoring their opponent 6-1 to clinch an 11-8 come-from-behind victory in a nonleague matchup March 23.

Junior Aidan Kaminska sat atop the scoring chart for the Royals who split the pipes five times along with an assist. Junior Colton VanOverberghe dished up an assist and stretched the net four times while Jonathan Moshe, a senior, along with sophomore Gage Jampol netted one goal apiece.

The Royals remain 0-1 in league but the road win against the Lions puts them at 2-1 overall. The Royals were back in action March 27 when they hosted West Babylon and lost 15-5.

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By Bill Landon

The Panthers of Miller Place stayed with Sachem East’s girls lacrosse team goal for goal most of the way, but the Flaming Arrows had one more left with three minutes left in the game to edge ahead by one. 

The Panthers were unable to answer, falling 6-5 in a nonleague matchup on the road March 23. 

Juniors Madison Murphy and Lauren Mancini led Miller Place in scoring with two goals each. Senior Ava Burns scored a goal with one assist while sophomore goaltender Chloe Anthony had five saves. 

The loss drops Miller Place to 0-1 in league and 1-2 overall. The Panthers were back in action March 27 when they hosted Comsewogue and lost 18-1.

This post was edited to include correct photos.

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Miller Place senior co-captain Sebastian Cannon drives against a WHB defender March 16. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s boys lacrosse team tried to shake off the early season cobwebs but had their hands full when the Westhampton Hurricanes blew into town for a non-league matchup where the Panthers fell 17-4 at home March 16. 

The goals for Miller Place were few and far between but sophomore Nicholas Belvedere scored one goal along with two assists, freshman Aiden Schook stretched the net twice and senior co-captain Sebastian Cannon split the pipes to round out the scoring. Freshman goalkeeper Kenny Leen recorded 10 saves.

The Panthers were back in action March 19 where they faced Babylon on the road in another non-league contest before league play gets under way today, March 21, at home against Hauppauge. First faceoff for both games are 5 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.

Clockwise from top left, Cannon drives against a WHB defender; Leen with one of his 10 saves; sophomore Matthew LoNigro gets checked; freshman midfielder Anthony Bartalotto gets checked by two WHB players; Cannon drives against a WHB defender; Belvedere passes over the middle; Bartalotto turns the corner.

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Patriots’ high-powered offense dominates West Genesee 15-2 for second straight state title

Ward Melville's boys lacrosse team toppled state rival West Genesee for the Patriots' second straight state title. Photo from Twitter

Ryan Pallonetti wasn’t missing the game this time, and he made his presence known.

The Ward Melville senior scored three goals in the Patriots’ 15-2 win over West Genesee for the school’s second straight state title June 9. He’d missed all last year and half his sophomore season with a knee injury.

“We’re unselfish, move the ball well and take smart shots, always looking for the extra pass to get the easy goal.”

— Matt Grillo

“Ryan’s an incredible player,” said classmate Zach Hobbes of Pallonetti, who scored the first two goals and assisted on the third to get the game going. “It was great seeing him play the way he did today since he didn’t get the opportunity to last year.”

A familiar yet different narrative developed in this season’s finale compared to last. Ward Melville had eked out a 10-9 win against Pittsford after scoring six straight, the final coming in overtime. Matt Grillo scored the final two goals of the game, which was on his birthday, and rose to the occasion once more this time around. The senior (four goals, one assist) went on another scoring run to propel his team this year, finding the net three straight times in the third to help extend Ward Melville’s halftime advantage from eight goals to 12.

The lopsided result in the final was out of the ordinary, although it followed the Patriots’ landslide victory in the state semifinal, an 18-2 win over Niskayuna.

West Genesee has won 15 state championships, the most in New York history, under head coach Mike Messere, the nation’s all-time leader in career victories with 846. Ward Melville, ranked No. 1 in the country by Inside Lacrosse, split six previous championship-game matchups with West Genesee, the last in 2013, a 16-4 victory under former legendary head coach Mike Hoppey. Current head coach Jay Negus won his first last year.

“Ryan’s an incredible player. It was great seeing him play the way he did.”

— Zach Hobbes

“I have to credit my defense for getting me ready for every game,” said Grillo, who ranks sixth in the county in scoring with 70 goals and 16 assists. “Even in practice, it’s the best defense I’ll have to face all year. They played amazing as usual to hold a very good team to just two goals. On the offensive end, jumping out to an early lead is something we’ve tried to consistently do all season. To see us execute like we did on our biggest stage is something really special.”

The Patriots defense made multiple stops to give Ward Melville plenty of opportunities in transition. Hobbes and junior Malachy McAvoy each racked up two goals and four others added goals.

“It took a lot of stress out of the game knowing that we maintained a lead all four quarters,” Hobbes said. “When you build a lead that early in a game it gives the team a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of experience in playoff games. It’s an unreal feeling winning back-to-back championships — it’s something every team works for every season, and we were able to do it twice — especially winning it with my best friends. We’ve worked for this moment.”

“I have to credit my defense for getting me ready for every game. Even in practice, it’s the best defense I’ll have to face all year.”

— Matt Grillo

Grillo credited Ward Melville’s unique bond as helping the boys claim the program’s 10th state title and third in the last six years. The Patriots became just the second school to reach the double-digit title mark. It was Ward Melville’s 15th trip to the finals.

“It really helps with our dynamic,” he said of his bond with his teammates. “We had everyone contributing. We’re unselfish, move the ball well and take smart shots, always looking for the extra pass to get the easy goal.”

Grillo said his younger self dreamed of playing for Ward Melville, recalling standing on the sidelines beaming, hoping he’d one day take the place of the athletes he was watching with eyes wide open.

“I always give it my all in every practice, every game,” Grillo said. “So many great players have come through this program and built it up to what it is now, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing we were able to continue the Ward Melville lacrosse legacy. This has been a ride I’ll never forget.”

The senior added after each success and milestone that he and Hobbes would look at each other and say: “our younger selves would be proud of what we accomplished.”