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Ward Melville came thisclose to making its first appearance in the Long Island championship game since the unbeaten state title season 2013 last spring.
After dealing Northport an 11-10 setback in the Section 11 Class A semis, the Patriots played another one-goal game in the final, falling to the defending champion, Smithtown East 11-10 in double overtime.
The Patriots, who finished 17-3, have been hit with some huge graduation losses, but have high hopes of returning to the county final.
For more, we check in with starting goaltender DJ Kellerman. Kellerman was an all-county honorable-mention and all-league selection in 2015, finishing with 129 saves and a save percentage of 71.
Now, here are DJ’s perspectives on the season.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
This offseason. we have played in several fall leagues. We also have been improving our speed and strength as a team by hitting the weight room.
I’ve been seeing shots from several different players to get ready for the spring.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Our schedule is a very tough one. We go back to playing both Smithtown teams and West Islip. We have no easy games this year, but the games I am looking forward to most is our out-of-conference game vs. Chaminade, and our in conference game vs. Connetquot, who shocked us last year.
And,of course, the game against Smithtown East, as always. I am looking forward to that rematch of last years county finals.
What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I think junior middie Dominic Pryor will really step up this year. He is a great two-way player who has really stepped up on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
I also think senior Jake Giaquinto will really step up for us he is a top faceoff guy who is flying under the radar.
Lastly, junior defenseman Matt Cirrone who has already been off to a great fall season. He will continue to help solidify our defense in the spring.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
I think our strength of our team will be our experienced defense anchored by two four-year varsity players and returning starters: senior defenseman John Day and junior defenseman Andrew McKenna.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
Suffolk League A is the best in the nation. Preseason we were ranked third behind Smithtown East and Connetquot. I expect both those teams to be in contention as well as West Islip and Sachem North.
But as we saw last year everyone is tough in this league so it should be an interesting year.
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