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Patriots

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The Patriots of Ward Melville edged ahead of Smithtown East from the opening tip-off and never took their foot off the gas to keep the Bulls at bay to ink a 67-54 win at home Dec. 17.  

Ben Haug led the Bulls with six field goals, a triple and four from the line for 19 points, teammates Dominic Galati netted 10 and Niko Skartsiaris banked 8. 

Ward Melville senior Dylan Moore shared the top of the scoring chart with Devin Lynch, both scoring 12 points apiece followed by junior Tyler Jean-Noel who scored 11 with Lorenzo Beaton netting 10 along with 13 rebounds in the Division II contest.

The win lifts the Patriots to 4-1, and the Bulls, suffering their first loss of this early season, drop to 5-1.  

Both teams retake the court with home games Dec. 20, where Smithtown East hosts Newfield at 5:15 p.m. and the Patriots take on Bellport at 4:15 p.m.

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Photo by Phil Amato
Marissa Tonic, Peyton Costello and Elyse Munoz after the win.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, the Ward Melville Patriots girls varsity soccer team made history by defeating the defending New York State Champions, Massapequa High School, to win the Class AA Long Island Championship. This is Ward Melville’s first time winning the Long Island Championship.

Massapequa has won seven out of the last eight years it has been played. Ward Melville will be heading to Cortland on Saturday to play in the state semi-finals against Monroe-Woodbury High School. The winner of that game will play in the state finals on Sunday, also in Cortland.

The community is planning a big send-off for the girls on Friday morning at 7 a.m. in Ward Melville High School’s north parking lot.

When the Patriots of Ward Melville came knocking on Eastport South Manor’s door the Sharks would take the match to five sets in league volleyball action Sept 8.

Ward Melville senior Jaron Popp, a powerhouse at the net, had 37 kills in the contest leading his team to the 3-2 victory — 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 24-26 and 15-11 in the fifth and deciding set.  

Teammate Carlo Fontanini killed 11 along with four blocks, and Keelan Sohl had 38 assists.  

The win lifts the Patriots to 3-0 and hands Eastport South Manor their first loss, dropping the Sharks to 2-1 

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Ward Melville opened their 2022 lacrosse campaign with a home game against West Islip March 22.

Trailing by one goal at the half the Patriots’ sticks spoke loudest the rest of the way cruising to a 9-5 victory in the non-league season opener.

Ava Simonton led the way scoring her hat trick, and Grace Balocca found the net twice. Grace Mulham, Courtney Quinn, MJ Timpanaro and freshman Peyton Phillips all scored. Ward Melville retakes the field Saturday morning at home in another non-league contest against Garden City. Game time is scheduled for 10 a.m.

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With four pins in the match, it was Ward Melville’s Nick Gaffney who led the way for the Patriots with a pin just 16 seconds in. Aidan Toomey did it in 33 seconds, senior Co-Captain Daniel Cassera won his match at the 1:09 mark and Ethan Herschander pinned his opponent 43 seconds into the second period.

With scores like those, the Patriots dominated visiting Hampton Bays, winning 59-14 in a non-league matchup at home Jan. 23. Ward Melville junior Matt Cracchiola, at 126 pounds, notched another win with a 16-0 technical fall who surpassed his 100th career victory earlier in the year and hopes to bring that momentum into the league and county finals. Patriot head coach Garrett Schnettler said Cracchiola will have his work cut out for him as he’ll be competing in the deepest weight classes in the state.

Ward Melville sophomore Christian Lievano, at 99 pounds who in his third year on varsity, is undefeated in Suffolk County this season, and has amassed a career record of 31-3.

The Patriots retake the mat in the Wes Dolon Invitational at Mattituck high school Feb. 1. First bout is 8 a.m.

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

By Andrea Paldy

Family and friends cheered on the more than 600 seniors who graduated in front of the Ward Melville High School clocktower on Sunday.

During the June 24 ceremony, salutatorian Michael Lu reminded his classmates to continue to open themselves to new possibilities.

“As graduates of Ward Melville High School, we can do anything we put our minds to as long as we have an appetite to learn and a willingness to take risks,” he said.

Ethan Li, the class valedictorian, encouraged his classmates to be socially aware and to enact change.

“Talent without humanity is like a violin bow which lacks resin,” he said. “It may produce practically perfect music, but the sound will never inspire.”

Ward Melville principal Alan Baum built on those words in his last commencement speech as principal.

“Change is okay,” he said. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

Baum, who will take on the role of executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources in the district office, had parting words for the class of 2018.

“Don’t let others or naysayers tell you what you can’t do,” he said. “Go out and show them what you can do.”

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Senior duo of Allyson Gaedje, Sam Rrutt one-two in 800-meter run; 4x800 relay places third

Kiera Hughes flies over the hurdles. File photo by Bill Landon

By Desirée Keegan

Kiera Hughes couldn’t contain her excitement as she rushed off the track toward her family and friends. It was a moment she’d worked day and night for — ensuring she could race just one more time.

The Ward Melville senior crossed the 100-meter hurdle finish line in 14.76 seconds for first place at the Suffolk County track and field individual championship/state qualifier June 2 and 3 at Comsewogue High School.

Kiera Hughes shows off her new hardware alongside head coach J.P. Dion following her state-qualifying win. Photo from Kiera Hughes

“Really, I took it even slower than that,” Hughes said. “I just wanted to live another day past the preliminary round. I wanted to do as best I could to make sure that I’d qualify to race in the finals.”

She got that and so much more.

“Running — it was so much fun,” Hughes said. “I felt so fast going over the hurdles, I felt so powerful. I was so determined because I really, really wanted to win. And to cross that finish line and see my name at the top of the leaderboard I was ecstatic. I was beyond happy.”

Head coach J.P. Dion and her teammates were cheering her on as she flew down the track. They were on the sideline to congratulate her with hugs and praise following her finish.

“Kiera Hughes has amazed me all year long,” Dion said. “When the pressure is on her she seems to rise to the top — just an amazing competitor.”

Some of the hurdler’s teammates will be taking the trip with her to the state championship at Cicero-North Syracuse High School June 8 and 9.

Seniors Allyson Gaedje (2:14.82) and Sam Rutt (2:14.93) pulled off a one-two finish in the 800 run and were a part of the 4×800 relay team that finished third.

“We planned on trying to run the race together,” said Rutt, who also came in second (4:38.02) in the 1,500 just a few seconds behind Shoreham-Wading River phenom Katherine Lee. “We do most of our workouts together, so it was relaxing to be by each other’s side in such a big race like that.”

Gaedje didn’t have the state standard in the 800, or time needed during the regular season at a sanctioned qualifying meet, to compete at states, so she needed a higher placement. Because Rutt already did, having to finish in at least second, so she eased off.

Allyson Gaedje races down the track. File photo by Bill Landon

“When you’re running with your teammate, there’s a little extra motivation to push yourself,” Gaedje said. “We’re all more focused this year, and it’s shown making our times — we’ve seen we can and have run some strong times, so we’re confident. We’re running faster than ever.”

Senior Sam Sturgess and sophomore Elizabeth Radke rounded out the relay quartet that crossed the finish line in 9:35.88. The same girls have been competing together the last couple years, placing third in the state this past indoor season and at New Balance Outdoor Nationals last June.

Dion said he’s continuously tried to get his student-athletes to believe in the process, and more importantly, in themselves. Over the years, as Gaedje pointed out, it’s led to results.

“These kids competing this weekend have been the heartbeat of Ward Melville girls track over the past four years,” he said. “This has been a very special group for us.”

And a group of seniors that, although close to graduating, are still anxious to get back on the track.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be able to race as fast as I can, and I’m hoping for a new personal record and to stay up there with all of the other girls that are competing,” Hughes said. “I’m a pretty determined person — I always was to improve myself and push myself. I’m looking to be a role model for the younger girls and race another day.”

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Matt Grillo scores twice, Dylan Pallonetti and Liam Davenport add a goal and an assist each in Patriots' 19th Long Island championship title win

By Bill Landon

The competition to become Class A’s Long Island champion came down to a battle for the ground balls, and as Ward Melville’s defense scooped them up, with it, came the title.

Long-stick midfielder Ethan Larson grabbed five ground balls and long-stick midfielder Pat O’Neill had three in the Patriots’ 8-5 win against Massapequa at Hofstra University June 2. Defenseman Alex Mazzone took hold of two grounders and caused two turnovers. All were crucial given Massapequa (17-2) won 11 of 17 faceoffs.

Being up by just a single goal to start the second half isn’t something the Patriots are used to, minus their one-goal loss to Half Hollows Hills East April 18. Senior Matt Grillo (two goals) said he thought the team was on edge given the unfamiliarity with being in a tight game after halftime, but said one of O’Neill’s possessions gave Ward Melville the spark it needed to ignite a string of scores.

O’Neill grabbed a ground-ball win on the opening faceoff 11 seconds into the second half, darted in on Massapequa goalie Mike Venezia, who shined with 14 saves, made a stick fake and scored. The junior’s goal gave Ward Melville a 3-1 lead.

“That really gave us the energy [we needed], fired us up,” Grillo said.  “We were tired, and the sun was getting the best of us, but we hydrated, we stretched, we just got our legs loose and we came out hot. We just didn’t turn back from there.”

Liam Davenport beat Venezia with a bouncer off a feed from Dylan Pallonetti to give Ward Melville a 4-1 lead with 10:33 left in the third, but Venezia robbed Pallonetti and Grillo from close range that quarter and made a stunner of a save on Grillo early in the fourth to keep the game close.

Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus tipped his hat to Venezia, who held the Patriots to 8-for-40 on shooting.

Ryan Pallonetti, Dylan’s older brother, scored to bring the game to 7-4 with 7:14 left, but again Massapequa had an answer. Venezia initially made the stop on Dylan Pallonetti’s shot, but when he spun his stick to try to trigger a fast break, he inadvertently flicked the ball back into the box.

“To be quite honest we were real sloppy in the first half on both ends,” Negus said. “We were missing some ground balls on the defensive end, but in the second half we made the adjustment. They really attacked the ground balls — I thought our poles did an excellent job then keeping their heads up and working to move in transition. Even the short-stick guys did a great job at picking up the ground balls — they were running all over and on a hot day like this, you can wear another team out. We like to play fast.”

Ward Melville will face Section II’s Niskayuna at Adelphi University in the state semifinals Wednesday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m.

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By Bill Landon

Ward Melville’s boys lacrosse team swallowed a bitter pill April 18 when the Patriots suffered their only loss of the season, 7-6, loss to Half Hollow Hills East. The No. 1-seeded Patriots had their chance to avenge that loss going up against the No. 3 Thunderbirds in the Class A county championship Wednesday, and did so in convincing fashion.

Behind junior Dylan Pallonetti’s five goals, Ward Melville won 14-5 at Islip High School May 30.

“We remembered that feeling when we lost to them — we weren’t going to let that happen again,” Pallonetti said. “We came out with some fire, put some goals in and never really let them take the game away. For now, we’ll practice hard, study Massapequa and keep the train rolling.”

Ward Melville (18-1) will face Massapequa (17-1) in the Long Island championship at 12:30 p.m. June 2 at Hofstra University.

Pallonetti said finding out that Ward Melville moved up to No. 1 in the nation, according to Inside Lacrosse, gave the Patriots a little extra juice.

It gave him some extra motivation, too, scoring a hat trick in the first half to turn a 5-4 first quarter advantage into a 7-4 halftime lead.

Half Hollow Hills East’s Mike Gomez found the back of the cage early in the third to close within two, but it was as close as the Thunderbirds would come the rest of the way. Ward Melville goalkeeper Collin Krieg (5 saves) said even with a nine-goal lead you can never get too comfortable in the game of lacrosse.

“Obviously we came out with more intensity today thinking we [shouldn’t have lost to them] in the first place,” Krieg said. “Yeah, we were ahead by nine, but to be honest you never know — that team can easily put up a bunch of points. I never like to count my chickens before they hatch.”

Having a potent Patriots offense on the other side of the field though didn’t hurt.

Eight different Ward Melville players scored, five finding the cage over a 4:30 span in the first quarter alone for a 5-1 lead before Half Hollow Hills East responded with three straight. Senior Matt Grillo added three on the day and seniors Zach Hobbes and Michael Giaquinto tacked on a goal and an assist apiece.

Ward Melville, which has now outscored opponents 204-75 this season, bring home the school’s third straight county crown and 26th overall in 40 appearances in the title game.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game — they played us hard the first time — but tonight we wanted revenge,” Grillo said. “It’s always nice to get another win, add some more hardware to the Ward Melville legacy.”