Connor Grippe said he played attack nearly all his lacrosse life, but switched to midfield this season at the request of his coach.
The move didn’t take long to pay off for Ward Melville.
Grippe picked up the ball near the right sideline and cut left before letting a bounce shot go for a goal to put his team up by two with 1:17 left and Ward Melville held on to beat host Chaminade, 9-8, Saturday in non-league play.
“Coach told me if I had a long stick, I was going to go behind and hold the ball and if I had a short stick, I had the green light to go,” Grippe said of his defensive matchup.
Ward Melville’s celebration after Grippe’s insurance goal was cut short when Tom Martello made it a one-goal game with 10 seconds left. The Flyers (2-2) went on the offensive and threatened to tie the game with a last-second shot, but Dennis Kellerman made the save and the Patriots (3-0) stormed the field.
“It’s a testament to our boys that they were able to dig in against a powerhouse like this and come out with the W,” said Ward Melville coach Jay Negus. “I thought we shared the ball well offensively. They have some real good defenders so we made some adjustments in the second half and it was helpful.”
Negus praised the leadership and poise of Grippe, who also tied the game at 4 with less than eight minutes left in the second quarter. Grippe, Christopher Grillo and Andrew Lockhart led the team with two goals apiece.
Ward Melville’s Dom Pryor scored 11 seconds into the game and Grillo made it 2-0 minutes later, but momentum was hard to come by from then on. The game was tied three times in the first half, two in the second, and each of the first three quarters ended tied at 3, 5 and 7.
Chaminade’s Jack Zullo preserved a 5-4 lead by saving what appeared to be a goal late in the second and Kellerman shone with three big saves in the second half. Zullo made eight saves and Kellerman had 10.
“Slow start, we tend to get to those, but we always step it up,” Kellerman said. On situations that call for a big save: “When they’re going our way, I love them. It was a good win for the team.”