By Gene Morris
LILacrosseNews.com, posted 4/11/12
Locked in a tight game with fellow League I power Ward Melville, the Smithtown West Bulls were looking to pad their 8-6 lead early in the fourth quarter and pull out an impressive road victory.
The two players the Bulls usually look to in such a situation – seniors Matt Schultz and James Pannell – had opportunities but could not capitalize.
Schultz had a goal disallowed because of a crease violation and Pannell rung a laser off the crossbar that barely stayed out, keeping Ward Melville in the game.
But rather than panic, the Bulls stepped up on defense and the veteran squad kept its composure, striking for two goals in eight seconds just a minute after Pannell’s near goal, effectively putting the game away. The Bulls added two more late goals to provide the final 12-6 margin.
“We hit a couple of pipes, but they went down the other end and our defense made a play,” Smithtown West head coach Bob Moltisanti said. “(Ryan) Adler made a great save, hit Mathie coming up the field and we get the transition goal out of it.
“You’re going to face adversity – they’re not all going to fall for you, you just have to keep playing and hopefully enough of them will fall at the end and they did today. I’m proud of the kids, they played their tails off; it was awesome.”
Any time Smithtown West (6-0, ranked No. 4 by LILacrosseNews.com) and Ward Melville (4-2, ranked No. 9) get together the game is important. The Bulls ended the Patriots’ 2011 season in the Suffolk County Semi-finals on the same field they played on today. The Smithtown Win puts them in the driver’s seat to secure a higher playoff seed which would situate a return playoff game on the Bulls’ home field.
Schultz led Smithtown West with four goals and Alex Dodge had two goals and an assist while Adler made eight saves. Brendon Hegarty and Jack Bruckner each scored twice for Ward Melville.
“This comes down to getting a home playoff game down the road and where you’re going to be seeded,“ Moltisanti said. “Any time you see Ward Melville, West Islip, Sachem North and those types of teams on the schedule you know the past couple of years that they’ve been on the top of things so we have to circle the games, we have to get them. They’re important games down the road for playoff seedings.”
Ward Melville, which was able to tie the game at six late in the third quarter on a goal by Brendan Hegarty, dropped its first league game of the season, with a daunting road match up with West Islip still looming on April 28.
That isn’t anything that worries Ward Melville head coach Mike Hoppey, though.
“Home field in lacrosse means absolutely nothing,” Hoppey said. “It’s nice to not have to get on the bus but it’s not like the crowd is affecting the game at all. Wherever you play, you play. Hopefully we’ll be in the championship game and it will be at a neutral site.”
It was West Islip and Smithtown West that met in the finals of the 2011 Suffolk County playoffs with the Bulls coming up just short of dethroning the reigning County champion Lions. With a new coach in Moltisanti and a resilient group of seniors the Bulls are looking to take that final step and get over the hump.
“All of the seniors feel the same way – this is their last shot,” Moltisanti said. “They were so close last year and they’re not taking anything for granted anymore. I’m blessed to come in to a situation with a group of seniors that understand the magnitude of what they have in front of them and what they were so close to achieving last year. They’ve done a great job this year and we just have to keep it going.”
Smithtown West 12, Ward Melville 6
Smithtown West 4-1-3-4
Ward Melville 2-2-2-0
Matt Schultz, 4 goals, 1 assist; Alex Dodge, 2 goals, 1 assist; Brian Masi, 2 goals; Ryan Keenan, 1 goal; Christian Zawadski, 1 goal; Kyle Mathie, 1 goal, Pat O’Brien, 1 goal; James Pannell, 2 assists, Craig Madarasz, 1 assist
Ryan Adler: 8 Saves
Brendon Hegarty, 2 goals; Jack Bruckner, 2 goals, Billy Gibbs, 1 goal, 2 assists, Michael Rastivo, 1 goal; John Edmonds, 1 assist
Danny Nemirov: 9 saves