By Matt Noonan
FOXBOROUGH, MA – With less than one minute remaining in regulation, and the score tied, 11-11, Merrimack’s sophomore Brandon Waiter scooped up the biggest ground ball of Saturday’s contests in the Warriors zone, and then directed the ball to sophomore teammate Jimmy Holland.
Holland, who cradled the ball for a few strides, eventually found senior John Smyth on the far side of the Bentley zone, who then targeted junior Greg Melaugh.
Melaugh collected Holland’s pass, dodged through the Falcons zone, and rifled his second consecutive game-winning strike in four days over the right shoulder of sophomore netminder Brian Karl with 14 seconds remaining, which lifted Merrimack past Bentley, 12-11 at Gillette Stadium.
“[Greg] is a very good offensive player, [and] the game against St. A’s in overtime was big, and then today, you go out there and you get late in the game and it’s back and fourth, they take a lead, we tie it up, we take a lead, they tie it up, and then you need somebody to make a big play,” said Merrimack head coach Mike Morgan. “Next thing you know, Greg [came] sweeping across lefty, [and] just stung one top corner.”
Prior to Melaugh’s clincher, Merrimack called a timeout with 50 ticks remaining, and crafted a possible goal-scoring opportunity, which ended up working out quite well.
“We came out of a timeout [late in the fourth quarter], and we were happy to have [Brandon] on ball, he’s probably one of our better takeaway guys, if not our best, and him putting the ball on the ground is obviously the way we get the ball back,” exclaimed Morgan. “And then from there, ball on the ground, moves it to Holland, moves it to Smythe, who had a great clear, and then the rest is kind of just Greg, but yeah, it all started with Brandon.”
Melaugh, who ended the contest with five goals and one assist, was all smiles after the game, especially when he regaled how his game-winning strike came to be.
“John Smyth ended up carrying the ball over, and a couple games ago there was a time at the end of the game and I was like, ‘you’ve got to get me the ball when I’m open’ and he knew to give me the ball and he just gave me the flip, the [defense] played me too aggressive and I had space down the middle and I just took it,” Melaugh said of his game-winning strike.
“Last game, I scored in overtime, so it’s becoming sort of a trend,” added Melaugh.