This was the year it was all supposed to be different for Yorktown. The highly touted ‘Huskers were finally going to slay the dragon that had been their nemesis for 30-plus years.
Ward Melville was, by all accounts, supposedly in the midst of a rebuilding phase and simply not the juggernaut of a Long Island program we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.
The Patriots showed today precisely why they have owned this tradition-rich series, and in the process forced the ‘Huskers to reflect on just how good they may or may not be.
Using a suffocating half-field defense, all-out hustle and opportunistic precision on offense, Ward Melville defeated Yorktown, the No. 2 team in this week’s LaxLessons Top 25 regional rankings and No. 6-ranked team in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national poll, 8-6 at Charlie Murphy Field.
With the win, Melville is now 29-7 all-time against Yorktown, including 12 wins in the last 14 meetings. Yorktown has not won since 2001.
“We knew coming in that we matched up well against them,” Melville coach Mike Hoppey said. “Their offense runs through two or three people so we knew if we could limit their big guys to two or three goals instead of what they are accustomed to scoring, we’d have a good shot. I thought we’d need 10 goals to win.”
Hoppey’s assessment was all too familiar. Every team knows that to throw Yorktown out of sorts it all starts with containing all-America middie John Ranagan, who will attend Johns Hopkins next season, and junior stud attackman Kevin Interlicchio (who is also committed to Hopkins). The difference Saturday was Hoppey’s players executed that game plan to perfection.
Close defenders Matt Kunkel, Tyler Brennan and Zach Zannone frustrated Interlicchio, who finished with a quiet two goals, including the 100th of his career, with a variety of looks, including straight shutoffs and doubles.
“Our defense was impeccable,” said Patriots senior attackman Cody Ferraro, who scored three goals, including two late in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. “We are a lot less of a finesse team than we’ve been in the past. We show a lot more toughness and willingness to pound the ground to get a win.”
Ferraro, who will play for Army next season, said a one-goal loss to Garden City earlier in the season really hit home. Since then, Melville (4-2) has outscored its opponents 33-8 during a three-game winning streak.
“After Garden City we came to the realization that some things would have to change if we were to play with the good teams,” Ferraro said. “Yorktown is a very good team. They have a lot of talent, but we have a ton of hard workers. We will do whatever it takes to win.”
Melville went up 2-0 in the first quarter, but then Yorktown (5-1) ripped off three straight goals to start the second, the last coming on a Ranagan lefty man-up crank from 15 yards out that seemed destined to get the vaunted ‘Husker offense going.
But those moments were scarce today.
Melville responded with unassisted goals from Will Mazzone and Nick Giampaolo and carried a one-goal edge into the intermission.
The Patriots dominated possession over the first 24 minutes, mostly because they owned faceoffs, got nearly every ground ball and forced Yorktown into a number of turnovers.
“Our guys weren’t ready to go,” Yorktown coach Dave Marr said. “At times it was like they never played lacrosse before. We’re going to have to learn from this.
“Ward Melville lost twice early, but they are never ‘down.’ I don’t believe it when people say that,” Marr added. “They’ve beaten us like 18 out of the last 20 times, so thinking they are ever down is not really an option.”
Melville started the second half by shutting off Interlicchio and doubling Yorktown’s attackmen as they drove from X. The Patriots extended their advantage to 6-3 on goals from Ferraro at 7:33 and by longstick Brennan with 28 seconds to go.
As the fourth moved along Yorktown started to get things going. Interlicchio cut the deficit to 2 with an unassisted goal two minutes in and a little under four minutes later Ranagan stole a poor clearing pass, beat one defender and fed Tom Casey for a layup that made it 6-5.
However, three-and-a-half minutes later Yorktown goalie Mike Bonitatibus, who made several excellent saves in the first half, returned the favor with a shanked clearing pass that Pat Day picked off near midfield. Day fed Ferraro, whose righty crank again upped the Patriots’ lead to 2. Then, two minutes later the two hooked up again, this time off a clear, making it 8-5.
Joey Porcelli got Yorktown back to within 8-6, but the ‘Huskers simply ran out of time.
Zach Quinn played a huge role in the victory for Melville. The senior goaltender made several impressive second-half saves, including stops on Casey, Ranagan and Interlicchio in the waning minutes.
“Quinn has been really good for us,” Hoppey said. “He played behind all-American Steve Rastivo last year and didn’t get a chance to show what he can do.
“Today was his coming out party.”
As for Yorktown and all the hype that surrounded its five-game winning streak to start the season, Ranagan was open and honest following today’s loss, saying he and his teammates had been reading their press clippings.
“Myself included, we read into the hype. From now on we’re going to take care of ourselves. We’re going to do what we have to do — all 33 guys — to get to that state championship,” Ranagan said. “We really felt like we were going to do it today. Now I have no more shots at Ward Melville and they are undefeated on this field.
“We learned that we’re not invincible.”
Posted In: Long Island lacrosse