Photos by Ray Nelson/MaxPreps.com
It was not only a non-league game, but a non-section game as well.
We’re talking about Ward Melville’s 10-7 win over Garden City, a team some ranked as the best squad in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tristate area in the preseason (though we gave the nod to Darien for that honor — and still do).
It was a huge victory for the Patriots on many fronts.
For starters, it re-establishes WM as not only a contender for the title in perhaps the state’s most competitive class, Suffolk Class A, but gives Ward Melville fans hope that an eighth state title is a definite possibility.
How did the Patriots do it?
Through strong defensive play, pure hustle and a balanced and unselfish offense led by the team’s top player, Army-bound senior attackman Will Mazzone.
For Mazzone, lacrosse is a family tradition. His brother, a 2005 WM grad, was a three-time captain at Siena. His sister played on the 2007 Suffolk Class A title game.
We caught up with Will to get his thoughts on the Patriots’ quick start and the win over GC.
How important was the win over Garden City, especially coming early in the season?
It was very significant, especially coming early in the season. Garden City is one of the top teams in the nation. Defeating them as a team definitely gave us a good indication on how good we are capable of being.
If we play with the intensity, unselfishness, and hard-nosed athleticism we did against GC we know we can beat anyone. A win over a top team this early makes us want to keep working hard and getting better each day to reach our goals.
What do you think the keys to the win were for Ward Melville?
The main key was basically playing as a team. Many of our goals were off assisted, unselfish plays. As a team we came out with high intensity scrapping for every ground ball and finishing fast transition opportunities.
The turnovers and saves caused by our defense allowed our offense to contain possession of the ball for most of the game. Also, as a whole, we kept our composure when the game got chippy and played with poise on man up opportunities.
What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I believe our team play is going to be the main surprise to other teams. We have a lot of depth and nobody on the team plays selfish.
Both of our goalies, Brian Droesch and Connor Ryan, make heads-up saves and are very communicative with our defense.
The defense is led by Zach Zanone, who is always playing with a chip on his shoulder. He is a role model to the rest of the guys on defense and keeps our defense playing intelligent and tough.
Our midfield is very hard-nosed and strong when it comes to defending, dodging and shooting. Seniors Sean Cleary and Jack Harvaninski are experienced leaders with the younger guys at the midfield.
Our attack has been playing with each other for three years now and we are experienced in knowing each other’s moves and strengths. As a team we’re always looking to make the unselfish extra pass which I think will be the difference from losing and winning games.
How would you describe your style of play for those who have never seen you play before?
I believe my biggest strength as a lacrosse player is moving without the ball. I know my team is always looking to pass therefore it allows me to always be cutting and creating off ball.
When I have the ball in my stick, I try to always keep my head up looking for my teammates moving off ball. I believe my style as a lacrosse player is quick feet and unselfishness trying to always look for the best opportunities for the team.
How do you view the race in Section 11 Class A and who do you think the contending teams will be?
The race in Section 11 Class A is very competitive. It is early in the season and already there has been some surprises. This shows that anybody is capable of surprising anyone and no team should be taken lightly.
I believe the main contending teams are Ward Melville, West Islip, Sachem North and Smithtown West. However, stats, past achievements and standings mean nothing in this league.
The team that comes out with the highest intensity and plays with the most consistently each game will be the most effective in this race.
What were the main factors that went into your decision to attend Army? and what other schools were you considering?
As a child, I was always interested in West Point. When the opportunity arose to visit the campus and be introduced to the Army lacrosse team I knew the school was for me. Coach (Joe) Alberici made the decision choice very easy. He provided me with a great stay and knowledge about the academics, team formality, and life after my education. I learned how Army is all about teamwork, leadership, and toughness.
I believe I’m an unselfish player and person and I enjoy facing obstacles to achieve individual and team goals. The brotherhood displayed by the Army lacrosse players and cadets at the academy was the main factor for my choice. I know West Point will be a great fit for me and provide me with best tools to succeed in the future.
There was very little consideration from me for any other school because the Army lacrosse coaching staff recruited me early and when the opportunity arose to be a part of this brotherhood I jumped on it. My heart and mindset is 100 percent for West Point. I am excited for the obstacles I will face in the next ten years of my life and believe all and all it will be a great learning experience and beneficial for the rest of my life.
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