Ward Melville got plenty of mileage from its "Diesel"-fueled defense and plenty of offense from its sleek model sophomore sniper. The combination produced a smooth and easy 12-3 victory over Massapequa on Saturday night and gave the Patriots their first Class A Long Island boys lacrosse championship since 2000.
It was the Danny & Danny Show at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. Danny Nemirov, the compact senior goalie, made five of his 12 saves in the first half, when Ward Melville was stuck in neutral. Danny Bucaro, a sophomore with college-level shooting skills, had four goals and two assists for unbeaten Ward Melville (20-0), which faces Shenendehowa in the state semifinals Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Poughkeepsie. The state championship games for all three classes will be June 8 at St. John Fisher College near Rochester. Ward Melville, ranked No. 1 in the country, expects to be there.
"Once Diesel made those saves early, it gave us so much confidence," senior defense anchor Michael Zerbo said. "Our goal all year has been 'Refuse to Lose.' After Danny made those saves, we looked at each other in the huddle before the second quarter and said, 'We need to do this for our goalie.' "
"We know Massapequa had a good offense, but we can shut down anyone."
The Nassau champion Chiefs (16-4) were averaging 13 goals a game before Saturday night and six times scored 16 goals. "Looking at film of them, I never would have predicted we'd hold them to three goals," Ward Melville coach Mike Hoppey said.
Of goalie Danny, Hoppey said, "He stood on his head." Of attack Danny, the coach marveled, "He put on a show."
Bucaro's goals included a spin-and-in move in the second quarter, two laserlike overhand shots and a bullet from a tough angle into a small window in the lower right corner.
With the way Nemirov and the defense was playing, once the Patriots built a 5-0 halftime lead, there was little hope for Massapequa. "I got into a rhythm early when I saw some shots in quick succession," said Nemirov, who said he got his nickname in the seventh grade because, "I was one of the first guys to work out with weights and, for a little guy, I could toss some people around."
After the first quarter, Nemirov's defensemen did the tossing against the Chiefs, moving bodies around and preventing a potent offense from getting good looks. "After that first quarter, my defense did the job in front of me," Nemirov said.
But in the first 12 minutes, it was "Diesel" to the rescue. "Oh my god, just watching him gave me so much energy," Bucaro said. "I loved it! All those saves make us so much better as a team."
Someone joked afterward that Nemirov's neck must hurt from standing on his head so much. But the senior goalie said after winning both the first county and first Long Island championship of his career: "I'm on top of the world right now."