Collin Krieg braced himself. The sophomore goalie from Ward Melville, in his first varsity season, knew that when you play Chaminade, you cannot relax, no matter the score.
So even when his team had built a seemingly comfortable fourth-quarter lead, Krieg was anything but comfortable in the cage. “I had to stay locked in. We know Chaminade can come back and was going to make a run,” Krieg said.
Sure enough, the Flyers cut their deficit to three goals midway through the period and were buzzing. That’s when Krieg stood tall, making saves on back-to-back rapid-fire shots and adding a third save during the lengthy possession to help Ward Melville earn an 11-7 victory in a non-league game at Chaminade matching two of Long Island’s best teams.
Matt Grillo scored three first-half goals that helped the Patriots build a 7-2 lead midway through the second quarter. Dylan and Ryan Pallonetti and Malachi McAvoy added two goals each and Zach Hobbes had three assists for Ward Melville (5-0). Krieg made nine saves. James Ball and Aidan Byrnes scored two goals each for Chaminade (4-1).
“Our offense played really well early. We were poised and moved the ball,” Ward Melville coach Jay Negus said of the Patriots’ five-goal first quarter. “Then they peppered us with shots. We had to absorb their energy and the adversity. Our defense locked it down. It was a complete team effort.”
But it wasn’t enough to bury the Flyers. They scored three goals in the final 2:21 of the first half — by Chris Nicholas, Reilly Gray and Byrnes. The latter came with one second left on a desperate cross-field pass from Sean Kuttin that Byrnes converted with a no-look, over-the-shoulder shot that made it 7-5. “I didn’t have my best half and that last goal was crazy,” Krieg said with a rueful grin. “But I re-focused.”
Ward Melville sophomore defenseman Ethan Larson was focused and physical the entire game, winning the loose-ball scrums and giving the Patriots several key possessions. “The coaches told us we needed to get ground balls,” Larson said. “When they rallied, we huddled up on defense and kept calm. In the second half, our zone was effective. Everyone was talking with sticks up and we locked them down for 15 minutes.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Ward Melville gained some breathing room when McAvoy scored a neat transition goal off a feed from Hobbes and seven seconds later, Mike Giaquinto took it down the alley after winning the faceoff. Four minutes later, Hobbes hit McAvoy in front with a pinpoint pass from behind the goal to make it 10-5 with 6:15 left.
However, Ball won the next draw from Giaquinto and returned the favor with his own unassisted tally and Will Kusnierek finished a feed from Kuttin to make it 10-7 with 5:20 left.
That would’ve been plenty of time to complete the comeback if not for Krieg’s acrobatics. “They got great looks but I knew what they were doing,” Krieg said. “I watched film and I knew where they liked to shoot from.”
He was ready and waiting.