Ward Melville forward Brandon Nworje (12) fights with Commack midfielder...

Ward Melville forward Brandon Nworje (12) fights with Commack midfielder Ryan Nigro (5) for control in the second half of a game on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Credit: George A. Faella

The honey badger is the most fearless animal in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities.

That's why it's the perfect nickname for Ryan Nigro, the Commack soccer team's fearless, relentless and athletic senior defender.

"They used to call me 'Aquaman' last year because I wore Rec Specs,'' Nigro said. "So that made sense, because water, goggles and all that.''

"Now, because he never stops, we call him the honey badger,'' Commack assistant coach Dave Moran said.

That nickname makes even more sense, considering how Nigro played Monday in Commack's 2-1 win over host Ward Melville in League I.

Nigro is only about 5-9, but his impressive leaping ability helped him win several balls in the air, including the one he snagged midway through the second half that helped set up the winning goal.

Michael Duren gave Commack (6-0) a 2-1 lead when he scored from close range with 24 minutes left on an assist from Justin Cebollero, who had received a pass from Nigro.

Ward Melville's Francisco Fischer chipped in the game's first goal off a cross from Joseph Graziosi in the ninth minute. Late in the half, Thomas Amato tied it when he buried a shot off a pretty feed from Gene Sicoli.

That was around the time coach Dave Viegas switched Nigro from midfield to center back, his primary position.

"We went with a little tactical change today,'' Viegas said, "but it didn't work for us in the first 20 minutes, so we went back to what we kind of do well.''

When Nigro moved back to defense, breakaway opportunities for Ward Melville (4-1) were halted. Passes were altered and shots became almost impossible.

"I don't know where we would be without him,'' said Commack goalkeeper Ryan Sinnott, who made five saves.

Ward Melville seemingly preferred to push the tempo. But Nigro was quick enough and strong enough to either shield Sinnott so he could come out and get the ball or just clear it himself time after time.

Teammates and coaches marvel at Nigro's relentless work ethic. They point to breaks in practice when he does pushups and situps.

"There's no one in the five years I've been coach that works like he does,'' Viegas said. "We have no words to describe him.''

So they just call him the honey badger.


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