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Sunday, June 11, 2017: Ward Melville stages a comeback for the ages

   Leading off today: What a long, strange journey to the state championship.

   Down four goals with barely a minute to play, Ward Melville rallied to tie on a Matt Grillo goal with eight seconds to go in regulation and won when Grillo struck again with :01 left in overtime to complete the Patriots' 10-9 win over Pittsford for the NYSPHSAA boys Class A title Saturday.

   Grillo's memorable effort on his 17th birthday capped a trying day and a half for Ward Melville, which traveled nearly 400 miles by bus on Friday -- departing at 5 a.m. -- ahead of Saturday morning's 10 o'clock start.

   And for 40-plus minutes the Patriots played like they had walked to St. John Fisher College, located a short bus ride from the Pittsford district's two high school campuses. The Panthers struggled on faceoffs but made up for it by not bending on defense and making the most of their possessions.

   When Pittsford extended its 7-3 lead after three quarters to 9-4 midway through the fourth, it looked bleak for Ward Melville. And then ...

   "It went from the worst birthday ever to the best birthday ever in about a minute and a half," Grillo, a junior attackman, told News12Varsity.

   The comeback began with Eddie Munoz's first of three straight goals with 1:01 left in the fourth. By the time he completed his hat trick, the margin was down to 9-8 with :26.6 left. Junior Mike Giaquinto, a Penn State recruit who was a superb 19-of-22 on faceoffs, won the ensuing draw and Andrew Lockhart fed Grillo for the regulation tie.

   "We lost our composure a little," Pittsford coach Andrew Whipple told the Democrat and Chronicle. "There were things we told the kids to do, and there were just some things we didn't do. They started rallying and they were getting all the faceoffs and they ended up winning."

MP3 audio Ward Melville pulled off possibly the greatest comeback in any NYSPHSAA championship game. Junior attackman Matthew Grillo spoke after his late-game heroics for the Patriots:

mp3 audio clip

   The teams traded possessions in OT, and then it came down to a restart from behind the Pittsford goalline extended with :06 to play. Ward Melville coach Jay Negus wanted Grillo to find Dom Pryor and have the Hofstra-bound middie seek out the best available cutter.

   "I didn't think there was enough time for that," Grillo said. "I just kind of did it myself."

   Instead, he cut inside of a defender and scored while falling to the ground, setting off a wild celebration of the program's ninth state tournament title by his teammates.

   More boys lacrosse: Victor made it three straight state championships, building a six-goal lead at the half and hammering out a 9-3 win over Yorktown.

   Alexander Mabbett scored a pair of first-half goals and finished the day with four points. Junior goalie Chayse Ierlan made six saves.

   "We were up by six, but we knew we couldn't slow down, we had to keep going," Mabbett told the Democrat and Chronicle. "We were focused and ready to go (for the second half). We knew Yorktown's offense was really good, so if we controlled the ball and took good shots we knew we'd come out with the win today."

   With a young roster that included only two senior starters, Victor is poised for continued success. For a day, at least, they'll just cherish the three-peat.

   "It's amazing," Mabbett said. "We've worked so hard, so to come this far all three years is an awesome feeling."

MP3 audio Victor's journey to a third straight NYSPHSAA championship was achieved with just two senior starters. Along the way, the Blue Devils saw their 50-game winning streak snapped and at times felt the weight of expectations. Here are some postgame reactions:
  • Coach Jim Andre (Part 1)
  • Coach Jim Andre (Part 2)
  • Goalie Chayse Ierlan
  • Midfielder Alexander Mabbett

        • Cold Spring Harbor became the first Long Island team to three-peat, recovering from a slow start to defeat Jamesville-DeWitt 11-9. J-D had won Class B in 2016.

       Down 5-1 early, the Seahawks scored five consecutive goals in the fourth quarter to take their first lead. Matt Licciardi converted a rebound of a blast from Taylor Strough (four goals) to pull ahead 9-8 with 9:33 left, then Kane Jaklitsch scored twice in 41 seconds.

       The Seahawks finished 21-0 while extending their winning streak to 28 games.


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  • MP3 audio Senior midfielder Taylor Strough scored four goals in the Cold Spring Harbor victory. Afterward, he discussed the Seahawks' rally from an early deficit, the legacy established by the first three-peat by a Long Island team and the long bus ride Upstate:
  • mp3 audio clip

        • Alex Calkins scored five goals and assisted on one other as Syracuse CBA earned the Class D trophy with a 12-5 victory over Westlake.

       The Brothers led from start to finish in winning their first state title and the first Class D title as the NYSPHSAA expanded to four classes this spring.

       Pittsford girls prevail: In a situation eerily similar to what the district's boys team went through earlier in the day, the Pittsford girls were unable to hang on to a two-goal lead in the final 1:09.

       The similarities ended 1:05 into the second overtime as sophomore Ellie Mooney converted a free-position shot for a 10-9 win over Middle Country in the girls Class A championship game at SUNY Cortland.

       "We were so sad for (the boys) but it really motivated us to push forward and do what we had to do," senior midfielder Jenna Doyle told the Democrat and Chronicle. "We wanted a different outcome."

       Senior attack Caroline Cullinan led Pittsford with three goals. Doyle and Jillie Quevedo each had two, and senior Elizabeth Blanding had a goal and three assists.

       Cullinan's goal with 3:59 to go looked like a clincher, but Ava Barry scored with 1:09 left and Jamie Ortega (four goals to finish with 103 for the season) tied it at :49.

       More girls lacrosse: Down six goals in the first half, Skaneateles pulled out a 12-11 win over Bronxville on a Kyla Sears goal with :18 to go in the second overtime in Class D.

       Sears, who missed all the 2016 season with a knee injury, finished with five goals.

       Sears faked a pass and jammed home the winning goal to complete the rally from an 8-2 deficit.    "She went in and took care of business," said teammate Olivia Navaroli, who scored twice including the tying goal. "She didn't have a lot of space, but she's an animal. She took it to cage."

       Bronxville led 11-9 on a goal by Lucy Hanrahan with 6:57 left. Sears answered 30 seconds later and then Navaroli ran some 60 yards with the ball to score the tying goal with 4:06 left.

       Skaneateles won 11-10 in OT when the teams met in the 2016 semis.

        • Kaitlyn Larsson made 10 saves and Jenn Medjid had six goals and an assist to lead Garden City past Fayetteville-Manlius in Class B, bagging the program's 14th NYSPHSAA title and second in a row.

       The Trojans scored three straight goals to tie at 5-5. Annie Steigerwald gave F-M its final lead at 6-5 late in the first half, but Annie Steigerwald set off a tidal wave of five straight goals (four in 2:14) to close the half. By the time the outburst ended in the second half, the lead was 14-6.

        • In Class C, Mount Sinai made it three straight titles and four in five years by swamping Honeoye Falls-Lima 15-4. Junior Meaghan Tyrrell had five goals and three assists to pave the way, and Camryn Harloff chipped in with a hat trick and an assist.

       The Mustangs won their two games in Cortland by a combined 31-5 margin.

       "We don't let anything in our heads. We don't pay attention to the scoreboard at all," senior Leah Nonnenmann (two goals) told Newsday. "We play our game and just take it one goal at a time."

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