CLIPPERS 17, TUCKERS 14
What both the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold and Bellport girls lacrosse teams must have viewed as a winnable game went Bellport’s way on Tuesday. No small thanks to Hailey Wagner.
Wagner fired in a career-high seven goals from 11 shots to bring the Clippers a 17-14 victory on the field turf at Bellport High School. The freshman midfielder also had one assist and collected 10 loose balls in a contest between two of Suffolk County Division II’s lower-ranking teams. Bellport (2-5, 1-5) entered the game in 19th place. Mattituck/Greenport/Southold (0-7, 0-7) was last among the division’s 21 teams.
Both teams had designs on Tuesday’s game, knowing the morale boost a win would bring.
“The win feels good,” said Wagner.
The result wasn’t good for the Tuckers, who sensed that an opportunity slipped out of their lacrosse sticks. Of the seven losses the Tuckers have suffered this season, coach Julie Milliman said, “This one hurt more than any of them.”
For one thing, the game served as a reminder of how thin the dividing line between victory and defeat can be. The competitive contest saw seven tied scores and two lead changes, the final one of those coming when back-to-back goals by Wagner gave Bellport a 12-11 edge with 11 minutes 11 seconds left to play.
A goal from a free-position shot by Audrey Hoeg had pulled the Tuckers to within one goal of the Clippers at 14-13 with 6:10 remaining. But Wagner, Marissa Edelstein and Megan Schaffer each netted a goal in the final 5:28 to secure the win for Bellport.
“We’ve had a rough season,” Wagner said, “but this game we finally got to the point where we just had to lock in together and just play strong and intense together.”
Amanda Jacabacci provided Bellport with four goals, Schaffer had two goals and four assists, and Cortney Pabst scored twice.
Audrey Hoeg led the Tuckers with four goals and two assists. Her cousin, Katie Hoeg, contributed three goals and two assists. Sydney Sanders added two goals and three assists. Trish Brisotti had one goal, three assists and a team-high seven ground balls. Alex Zaweski made nine of her 10 saves in the first half.
The Tuckers looked glum afterward.
“It was a hard loss,” Brisotti said. “We just kind of lost it at the end.”
Milliman said she not only didn’t expect the game to be as close as it was, but she expected her team to be on the winning end.
“Just too many mistakes,” the coach said, referring specifically to turnovers. She added, “Even if we had won this game, we made too many mistakes for it to be a victory.”
The Tuckers were coming off an 18-7 home loss to Babylon last Wednesday despite big games from Katie Hoeg (four goals, two assists), Meg Glenn (three goals, two assists) and Audrey Hoeg (three goals, one assist).
Katie Hoeg, an eighth-grader, and Glenn, a senior, are the team’s leading scorers this season with 17 and 13 goals, respectively.
The active Wagner gave the Tuckers trouble on Tuesday. A talented player who has been playing lacrosse for seven years, Wagner is an NCAA Division I candidate in the eyes of her coach, Amanda Wayne.
“I think she’s the best we have, and she’s only a freshman,” Wayne said. “I think she has potential to go even further than she already has, which is huge.”
This has been a trying season for Bellport, and not just because of the losses the young Clippers have absorbed. A young lacrosse player, Bellport eighth-grader Julia Nofi, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, died at the start of the season.
“I think that really affected the girls greatly,” Wayne said. “It was an emotional hit for them.”
The Clippers, who held a ceremony in Nofi’s memory prior to a game several weeks ago, have dedicated their season to her. They sell T-shirts that read, “We Play for You” on the front and “In Loving Memory of Julia” on the back.
Meanwhile, the Tuckers are still chasing after their first win.
“It’s been fun to play on this team, and we’ve definitely been competitive,” Brisotti said. “I just want to get a win before the season’s over.”