Ward Melville Finishes No. 1 in Northeast, Hobbes is NE Player of Year


Harvard-bound midfielder Zach Hobbes of Ward Melville (N.Y.) is the Warrior/US Lacrosse Northeast Player of the Year after leading the Patriots to another state title.

Zach Hobbes is a throwback.

He’s an overpowering two-way midfielder, a player who takes just as much pleasure in creating a turnover as he does scoring a pretty goal. He never comes off the field. He plays in every aspect of the game.

And on one of the best teams in the country, he was the one indispensable piece, according to his coach and teammates.

Hobbes, a senior midfielder for Ward Melville (N.Y.), is the runaway choice for the Warrior/US Lacrosse Northeast High School Boys’ Player of the Year. Despite modest numbers (33 goals and 16 assists), he was the backbone of the best team in Northeast, as the Patriots claimed their second straight Class A state championship and 10th state title overall. They finished No. 1 in the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Boys’ Northeast Top 10 and No. 3 in the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Boys’ National Top 25.

“Zach Hobbes is a classic two-way middie,” Ward Melville coach Jay Negus said.” Man up, man down, it’s like having another pole out there.

“He’s the typical throwback, do-it-all middie. Offensively and defensively, he never came off the field. We really pride ourselves on the defensive end, and Hobbes excelled there. Hobbes is an animal. He’s just a force, offensively and defensively.”

Negus kept going about his Harvard-bound leader.

“His nickname is ‘the dinosaur.’ He’s just a monster. He’s an unbelievable football player as well. He’s talented enough to play Division I football. The kid just leads by example. After we win the state championship and are getting ready to go home, he’s cleaning up the locker room. It doesn’t need to be cleaned. It’s the right thing to do. He does it, because it’s the right thing to do. Not because he’s going to be recognized for it.”

Before another question could be asked, Negus continued to rattle off Hobbes’ many accomplishments. Unprompted, Negus gushed. It’s evident that Hobbes is that special.

He had the full vote of confidence from his coaching staff, which encouraged him to go out on the field and just play. Mistakes would be accepted. Coaches didn’t want Hobbes second-guessing himself because the highlights were plentiful.

Negus said he’s never given that much latitude to a player before.

“His lacrosse IQ is off the chart, but during his junior year, he was playing a little reserved and conservative because he didn’t want to make a mistake,” Negus said. “He’s the first player I’ve ever given the green light to, in terms of, ‘You can do whatever you want out there and I’ll be comfortable with it.’ He absolutely stood up.”

Hobbes – an imposing 6-foot-4, 200-pound midfielder who organized fundraisers for the Blue Star Mothers of America and volunteered at local veterans’ homes – played a big role in Class A’s most productive offense, but he enjoyed contributing on defense just as much.

Ward Melville led Class A in scoring and defense, averaging 12.45 goals while allowing just 4.23 goals per game during a 21-1 season.

“I love making stops on defense,” Hobbes said. “I love that feeling. We can be out there playing defense for three minutes straight, the other team has possession and is milking the clock. My favorite thing is getting the stop or turnover on defense, running in transition, and scoring off that. I think it takes a lot of confidence from the opposing team.”

Hobbes was the catalyst to a special season for Ward Melville. The Patriots experienced their only hiccup in a one-goal loss to Half Hollow Hills East (N.Y.) on April 18, but they refocused after that and won their remaining 12 games in extremely dominating fashion.

The average margin of victory following the Hills East loss was 12 goals. And the only close game, one that the Patriots called the toughest of the season, came in an 8-5 win over Massapequa (N.Y.) in the Long Island championship (state quarterfinals).

Ward Melville capped the season with a 15-2 win over West Genesee (N.Y.) in the Class A state title game. Hobbes tallied two goals and an assist in the win.

“There is so much I can say about this team and this year,” Hobbes said. “I could go on forever. We played plenty of teams ranked in the top 25 throughout the season and only having one loss, it’s pretty impressive. But we played that team in the county championship and beat them by nine.”

“We were so well-rounded,” Hobbes added. “And we weren’t afraid to make mistakes.”

Hobbes carried on the Ward Melville tradition. It began under legendary coach Joe Cuozzo and has continued since Negus took the reigns of the program in 2013.

“Myself and the other two coaches, we all graduated from Melville, so we have high expectations,” Negus said. “It’s a bar that’s set pretty high. Taking over for (U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Famer) Joe Cuozzo, big shoes to fill. It’s a lot more competitive now. Everyone has a youth program. The expectations are high. The boys did a great job of responding to the foundations and systems we put forth.”

In nearly the same breath, Negus delivered the ultimate compliment to his departing senior.

“He set the example for the future guys to come forward,” he said. “His leadership, his play, and then his off-the-field stuff as well. I said in an earlier interview, I have two daughters, but I hope they meet someone that good when they’re older.”



School: Ward Melville (N.Y.)

Stats: 33 goals, 16 assists

Coach Jay Negus: “He’s the typical throwback, do-it-all middie. Offensively and defensively, he never came off the field. We really pride ourselves on the defensive end and Hobbes excelled there. Hobbes is an animal. He’s just a force, offensively and defensively.”

Also considered: Chayse Ierlan, Victor (N.Y.); Matt Grillo, Ward Melville (N.Y.); Xander Dickson, Brunswick (Conn.); Logan McGovern, Darien (Conn.); Brennan O’Neill, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.).



1. Ward Melville (N.Y.), 21-1

The Patriots claimed the Class A state title for a second straight year, this time with a 15-2 win over West Genesee (N.Y.). They ended the season on a 12-game winning streak after a one-goal loss to Half Hallow Hills East (N.Y.), which they avenged in the postseason. Matt Grillo led the team with 70 goals and 16 assists this season. 

2. Brunswick (Conn.), 16-1

The Bruins split the New England West 1 title with Salisbury (Conn.) to complete their season. Salisbury was the lone team to beat Brunswick. Among the highlights of the season were wins over Landon (Md.) and Canadian powerhouse Hill Academy (Ontario). 

3. Chaminade (N.Y.), 17-3

The Flyers earned the state CHSAA title with a 17-4 win over St. Joseph’s (N.Y.) on May 29. They opened the season with an impressive win over McDonogh (Md.), and they won two of three games against rival St. Anthony’s (N.Y.). Their two other losses were to nationally-ranked Delbarton (N.J.) and Ward Melville. Aidan Byrnes led Chaminade this season with 41 goals and 10 assists.

4. Garden City (N.Y.), 18-3

The Trojans closed the season with 10 straight wins and knocked off three-time defending state champion Victor (N.Y.), 7-6, in the Class B state final. Liam Muldoon led the Trojans with 39 goals and 24 assists this season. 

5. Ridgefield (Conn.), 16-5

The Tigers pulled off one of the most stunning upsets of the season to claim the Class L state championship, upending four-time defending champion Darien (Conn.), 9-8, in the final. The title was Ridgefield’s first since 2011. 

6. Darien (Conn.), 22-1

The Blue Wave’s 76-game winning streak come to a close with a 9-8 loss to Ridgefield (Conn.) in the Class L state championship game. The loss stopped their run of four straight state titles. Senior attackmen Logan McGovern and Brian Minicus powered Darien, which had wins over three top teams in New York (Yorktown, Manhasset and St. Anthony’s).

7. Victor (N.Y.), 20-2

The Blue Devils saw their run of three straight state titles halted in a last-second 7-6 loss to Garden City in the Class B final. Both of Victor’s losses were by one goal, the other coming against Illinois’ Loyola Academy. Sophomore Joey Pezzimenti led the Blue Devils with 42 goals and 34 assists.

8. St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), 16-5

The Friars lost to rival Chaminade (N.Y.) in the CHSAA regional final on May 25 after the teams had split their previous two meetings. St. Anthony’s had notable wins over Haverford (Pa.) and two-loss Niskayuna (N.Y.). Brennan O’Neill led the Friars with 64 goals and 34 assists this season.

9. Islip (N.Y.), 19-2

The Buccaneers beat Pelham (N.Y.), 14-4, in the Class C state semifinals, then topped Westhill (N.Y.), 9-3, to claim their first state title. They accounted for both of Mount Sinai’s losses this season and also had a win over 16-2 Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.). Mike Bienkowski finished the season with 49 goals and 26 assists. 

10. Boston College High (Mass.), 19-3

The Eagles claimed their first state title, upending Acton Boxborough (Mass.), 16-3, in the Massachusetts Division 1 state final on June 23. They ended the season with 13 straight wins. Will Bowen led a talented BC squad this year.

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