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Ward Melville races to state Class A lacrosse title

Ward Melville Ryan Pallonetti (3) celebrates his goal

Ward Melville Ryan Pallonetti (3) celebrates his goal with Ward Melville Zach Hobbes (4) during the 2018 NYSPHSAA Class B Boys Lacosse Championship game between West Genesee Wildcats and Ward Melville Patriots at Growney Stadium at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY on June 09, 2018. Credit: Jerome Davis / Jerome Davis

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — No need for a miraculous come-from-behind overtime thriller this time. For Ward Melville, it was a come-from-ahead blowout.

A year after scoring four goals in the final 1:01 against Pittsford to force OT and winning in the last second of the first overtime, the Patriots needed no such theatrics. They walloped West Genesee, 15-2, on Saturday before a crowd estimated at 2,200 to make it back-to-back state Class A championships. It was their 10th state title in 15 trips to the finals.

“We didn’t want it to be anything like last year,” said the smiling senior midfielder and captain, Zach Hobbes, holding the championship plaque tightly over his head. “We wanted to put it away early.”

The Patriots (21-1 and ranked No. 1 in the country by Inside Lacrosse) did just that. Ryan Pallonetti (hat trick) scored in the first and third minutes for a quick 2-0 lead and Malachi McAvoy (two goals, one assist) and Hobbes (two goals, one assist, team-high three ground balls) scored 12 seconds apart to make it 4-0 with 7:16 left in the first quarter.

West Genesee (18-3) finally scored but the Patriots responded with the next four goals to make it 8-1 early in the second quarter. Matt Grillo (four goals Saturday after a five-goal performance in Wednesday’s semifinal) put the game into running time with three straight third-quarter goals that made it 14-2. Grillo, who had the game-winner here last year, totaled 70 for his senior season, second-most on Long Island.

One of Grillo’s goals reflected Ward Melville’s domination and West Genesee’s futility. Grillo took the ball right out of the goalie’s hands on the ride and scored into an empty net with 8:03 left in the third.

“If we shot it well, I knew that would be the result,” said Ward Melville coach Jay Negus, who before the game kiddingly told two women who were filling in for the absent student managers as scorers that his team would win 16-2. Pretty nice prediction, coach.

It was the final game for West Genesee coach Mike Messere. The Hall of Fame coach accumulated 841 victories in 44 years, the most in history for boys lacrosse, and has the most state titles, 15.

“We had a lot of good looks and today we buried the shots,” Negus said. “We knew we had to match their intensity early in the game.”

Intensity wasn’t an issue as Ward Melville was highly motivated to repeat as state champions. Especially Pallonetti, a senior who missed virtually all of last season and nearly half of his sophomore season with a knee injury. “It’s great for him that he was finally at full strength this year and stepped up at the right moment for us,” Negus.

Pallonetti, whose brother Dylan, a junior, is one of the team’s top scorers with 53 goals (including one on Saturday), enjoyed the moment. “Before the game, I realized it would be my last game. It’s been fun playing with my brother,” he said. “It feels good to be a part of this. I was here (at the state finals) last year but didn’t have much of a role.”

Another different storyline this year.

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