Ward Melville edges Smithtown West in semifinal

Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 by Ray Nelson

Goalie Bellavia helps Ward Melville edge Smithtown West, 4-3

Quick Summary

No. 2 Ward Melville snuck past No. 3 Smithtown West, 4-3, in a Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse semifinal.

Melville celebrates their 4-3

Photo credit: George A. Faella | Ward Melville celebrates their 4-3 victory over Smithtown East. (May 28, 2010)


Joe Bellavia's first step in preparing for the Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse final against West Islip on Thursday was into his hot tub for a relaxing dip.

West Islip will be turning up the temperature on the Ward Melville goalie. But on Friday, Bellavia was able to bask in his finest high school performance - and heal from the wounds that came with it.

Bellavia made 11 saves, many off his unguarded legs, as host No. 2 Ward Melville beat No. 3 Smithtown West, 4-3, in a Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse semifinal.

"The shots seemed like beach balls," Bellavia said. "I've been waiting for this feeling my entire life."

Nick Giampaolo (two goals) tallied the game-winner with 7:42 remaining. It was the Patriots' only lead of the game.

Said Giampaolo: "This is our last game on this field, so why not play our hardest?"

Will Mazzone's goal just under the crossbar 1:16 before the game-winner, off a feed from Tyler Hegarty, tied the score at 3.

Both goals came off winning faceoffs, a spot Smithtown West (13-5) otherwise dominated, as Mike Iacono won eight of 11 at the "X."

"We're not going to go one thousand [percent] on the faceoffs," Smithtown West coach Sean Keenan said. "We had a great game plan. They just played awesome defense."

Bellavia split time in net most of the season. Coach Mike Hoppey decided last week that Bellavia would play the entire game; he just didn't tell him until Friday morning. Said Hoppey: "I didn't want to give him a lot of time to think about it."

Bellavia allowed the opening goal to Brett Madarasz and two from James Pannell that gave Smithtown West leads of 2-1 and 3-2. Jimmy Ryan's goal with 8:33 left in the first quarter tied the score at 1 for Ward Melville (16-2), and Giampaolo's first score 3:02 before halftime made it 2-2.

Ward Melville's win sets up its sixth straight meeting with West Islip for the Suffolk title. The Lions won the first five, but Hoppey said his squad remains a confident bunch.

So when a young Ward Melville fan asked Giampaolo if his team was going to beat West Islip, he responded: "Hell, yeah!"