It took the motivation of a strong rivalry for the Ward Melville boys soccer team to finally realize its potential.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Patriots had scored in only three of 10 games and totaled eight goals on the season. Then it found Suffolk I nemesis Floyd across the pitch and it set something off. Ward Melville exploded for a quartet of goals, including two huge scores by Sean LaPeters, as it took down the visiting Colonials, 4-3, in raw, wet and windy conditions.
When the final buzzer sounded to end Floyd’s furious bid to knot the score, the players from Ward Melville (4-5-2, 4-3-2) raced onto the field for a championship-style celebration. The Patriots still need one win in their final three games to lock up a playoff spot, but this game — and their quality performance — clearly had meaning.
“The last time we played at their field they beat us 1-0 and were celebrating like they won the championship, so I think we are motivated by that,” said Sean McKnight, who tied the game 1-1 on a 35-yard shot into the top of the goal in the eleventh minute. “We wanted to come here and we wanted to beat them and then show them what it feels like.”
Floyd (8-2-2, 6-2-2) grabbed the lead back in the first three minutes of the second half as Sebastian Sosa scored from 18 yards out, but it didn’t last. Less than a minute later LaPeters stole the ball from the Floyd backline and put the game-tying shot into the lower right corner of the net. Just 13 seconds later the Pats went up for good when Ben Perez scored into the lower right corner.
“Sometimes you score one and it’s still in their heads when play starts again and you have to work hard to jump on it and that’s what Ben did,” said Peters, who scored again for a 4-2 lead with about 20 minutes left in the game.
Floyd scored on Theodore Bernhard’s shot along the endline with 4:49 to play, but Pats goalkeeper Jack Dolan made two of his six saves late as Ward Melville held on.
Mario Salguro had a goal and two assists for the Colonials. Christian Bell had an assist for the Pats.
“This is one of the best group of players, as a whole, that I’ve ever had,” WM coach Jon Stecker said. “We’ve been struggling to put the ball in the back of the net but today? Today, it finally came out and we scored four.”
“[Floyd] gave us the hunger to finish and now we have to keep it going,” LaPeters said. “What you saw today is who we can be.”