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Jake Melchionni calls game!
— NLF (@natlaxfed) April 22, 2023
Everything was setting itself up for Summit to knot a New Jersey public vs. private rivalry game with Delbarton up and head to overtime.
The Hilltoppers had just forced a turnover on a double team near their end line and they had a chance to knot a low-scoring tilt up out of a timeout.
In a game ruled by defense, though, it was fitting that a great defensive play would be the way to ice the game. Jake Melchionni saw a chance to be the closer, and the Villanova signee wasn’t going to waste it.
Enter Sandman. The Leading Edge four-star senior pole tracked his chance at a double team, saw it and broke on it. He chopped down on the Summit player’s stick, got the ball out and corralled the ground ball for good measure. Melchionni and Delbarton escaped with a 5-4 win in a battle of two of the Garden State’s perennial titans.
“I was just looking for the back of his helmet, and I feel like we did a good job of turning him and it was right there and I just went for it,” Melchionni said. “It’s just kind of whatever’s open. I just look for the stick and throw some bait checks and try to open up the stick and go for it.”
Melchionni and his Delbarton defensive mates were outstanding throughout the day. Melchionni, fellow Leading Edge ’23 Corbin Lukanski (Bucknell) and Fairfield signee Julian Radossich were the headliners of a Green Wave defense that held Summit off the scoreboard until there was 4:35 left in the third quarter when Lucas Stocks finished off a nice two-man game play with Will Johnson to get the Hilltoppers on the board.
“We knew going into this game that it was going to be a little slower,” Lukanski said. “We played Malvern Prep and St. Anthony’s and those guys like to run up and down the field. Knew it would be a little slower and we prepared for it the night before. It was all in the preparation.”
Game-Changer at LSM
For Melchionni, the NLF’s No. 41 senior, takeaway checks and elite stickwork have always been his calling cards. He got dinged throughout the recruiting process by some college coaches for being skinny, but he’s six feet tall and has ample room to take advantage of Villanova’s Division I weight room and cafeteria. On the flip side, it’s hard to teach his instincts and ability to separate his matchup from the ball, which means that he could be a major issue for opposing offenses at the next level. Couple that with his ability to be as two-handed a pole as you’ll see – it’s usually defense and checks as a lefty, shooting as a righty, ground balls with both – and Melchionni is a potential gamebreaker.
Summit worked its way back into it with a pair of goals from Skidmore-bound senior Jack Holmes, the second coming on an alley dodge. Delbarton got the ball back and, without a shot clock involved, looked poised to ice the game by playing keep away. Summit doubled on the end line and got the ball back for one last crack before Melchionni’s heroics.
Delbarton vs. Summit Standouts
Nick Faccone ’23, faceoff midfield, Delbarton – Lafayette
Talk about a juice merchant. Faccone got both halves started with goals for the Green Wave right off the faceoff. He opened the game with a five-hole rip seven seconds, then later added a bouncer for his second tally of the game. Low-to-the-ground with a powerful frame, Faccone was able to use his first step to separate and put the defense in conflict on both of his goals. He and four-star junior Navy commit Ryan Trafford combined for a good-not-great 7-for-13 day at the stripe. However, add in those two juice goals in such a low-scoring affair and Faccone becomes a gamebreaker.
It wasn’t either offense’s day, but Flaim had some noticeable plays from his X attack spot that made an impact. He scored Summit’s prettiest goal of the day when he beat his man up the hash and uncorked a high rip to get the Hilltoppers to within two. Usually a midfielder for Leading Edge, the future Wildcat’s explosive first step makes him a tough cover from X. Also a hockey defenseman who averaged more than a point per game for Summit this winter, Flaim’s got the toughness and comfort when making plays in traffic that you love to see.
Robbie Kievit with an impressive save, the last of his six first-half stops, to keep Summit within two.
— NLF (@natlaxfed) April 22, 2023
Robbie Kievit ’26, goalie, Summit
It must be nice for Jim Davidson to know that he’s got his goalie situation taken care of for the next four years. Kievit’s undersized for the position, as most freshmen tend to be, but he makes up for it with quick feet, quick hands and poise. Kievit shined with 10 saves and was particularly good. His eight first-half stops helped keep the Hilltoppers in it when Delbarton threatened to run away with the game. Kievit did a nice job of getting the ball out on clears, too.
Corbin Lukanski ’23, defense, Delbarton / Leading Edge – Bucknell
Delbarton’s defense was excellent throughout the day. The Green Wave limited Summit’s clean looks at the cage, and when things faltered, Penn-bound senior goalie Aidan Troy was up to the task with eight saves. Lukanski was one of the lynchpins behind that success. A 6-foot, 190-pounder, he made his impact felt early on a perfect double team to cause a turnover. He had a number of impressive tough ground balls and hoofed it upfield in the clearing game.
“We really talked well,” Lukanski said. “We came into this game knowing we had to communicate well. Their offense is slow to go and they play really composed, so we came out and needed to work hard off-ball and on-ball. We had to stay disciplined and not go out and fly out on guys. I think that we played stick in gloves and with good footwork.”
Julian Radossich ’23, defense, Delbarton – Fairfield
Radossich stands out immediately when you see his 6-4, 190-pound frame. Any defenseman rocking No. 1 is always going to look cool, too, so bonus points for style and a great number choice. The future Stag’s game did plenty of talking, too. He was aggressive in getting out on hands without throwing a ton of checks. Radossich was efficient and fluid in his movements, using that big frame to cover a ton of ground. He was excellent off the ground with close to a half-dozen ground balls and surprisingly pulled away from much smaller opponents on the clear.
“I got dodged on a lot in the beginning and Corbin had a great double in the beginning of the game and I think I got that ground ball, too,” Radossich said. “That’s just other guys putting the ball on the ground and I’m just in the right place at the right time and getting the opportunity to pick it up.”
Delbarton 5, Summit 4
Nick Faccone ’23 (Lafayette) 2 goals, 3-for-7 faceoffs
Vincent Ferrara ’23 (Gettysburg) 1 goal, 1 assist
Gray Doyle ’23 (Bates) 1 goal
TJ Coffey ’23 (Quinnipiac) 1 goal
Bobby Cusimano ’25 (Leading Edge) 1 assist
Jack Sartorius ’24 (Leading Edge) 1 assist
Ryan Trafford ’24 (Navy – NLF No 79 ’24) 4-for-6 faceoffs
Aidan Troy ’23 (Penn) 8 saves
Jack Holmes ’23 (Skidmore) 2 goals
Lucas Stocks ’23 1 goal, 1 assist
Daniel Flaim ’24 (Leading Edge / Villanova) 1 goal
Will Johnson ’23 1 assist
Jake Rainero ’23 6-for-13 faceoffs
Robbie Kievit ’26 10 saves