ALBANY — When it comes to his shooting, Andrew Lockhart can be pretty hip.
“It’s the hardest area for a goalie to save a shot,” the Ward Melville attack said of what he called his “off-stick, hip-level” shooting that resulted in two goals plus three assists on Thursday in the Patriots’ 9-6 victory over Lakeland-Panas in a state Class A semifinal played at Fallon Field on the campus of the University at Albany.
The Patriots (19-2) will face Pittsford for the state Class A title on Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Pittsford defeated Baldwinsville 11-8 in the other Class A semifinal.
Lockhart said he had been working on his shot because “I was shooting and not thinking about where I place it.” His placement was precise early, as he scored Ward Melville’s first and third goals. He also made three first-half assists as the Patriots built a 7-3 halftime lead by scoring four goals in 2:44.
Dylan Pallonetti (two goals), Brandon Aviles, Zach Hobbes (one goal, three assists) and Matthew Grillo (two goals) provided the game’s only offensive outburst. “We focused on executing and just turned it up,” Lockhart said.
But he fully understood why coach Jay Negus declared after the game, “I’m not happy . . . with our impatience, our decision making and our turnovers.”
As Lockhart noted, “We didn’t celebrate like we did after we beat Smithtown East (county championship) and Massapequa (LIC). We beat them 16-6 (in last year’s state semifinal) and were looking for a more dominant performance.”
Still, in reaching its 14th state final, Ward Melville showed dominance in some areas. They won the ground-ball battle, 31-15, led by defensemen Alex Mazzone (seven) and Andrew McKenna (three), and midfielder Dominic Pryor and Michael Giaquinto with four each. Giaquinto, a faceoff specialists, won 16 of 19 draws.
“Michael did a great job on faceoffs and we did win the ground-ball war,” Negus said. Of Lockhart’s big day, Negus added, “He finds a way to find a nice little pocket to shoot. He’s worked hard on putting it where it needs to be.”
Pallonetti made it five straight Ward Melville goals early in the third quarter for an 8-3 advantage, but Tim Fallo scored two of his three goals and the Rebels were making some noise until McKenna picked off a pass near midfield, carried into the box and fed Eddie Munoz for a booming goal that made it 9-5 with 2:11 left.
The Patriots were scoreless in the fourth quarter, but by then, Lockhart had worked his magic. “It’s always someone,” he said of the Patriots’ balanced share-the-ball offense that featured six different goal-scorers. “It depends on who has the hot hand.”
Or the hot hip.