Meghan Cereola, the new coach of the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school girls lacrosse team, may have felt a bit uneasy. The Tuckers are heading into only their fifth varsity season, after all, and Cereola didn’t know exactly what sort of skill level she would be working with.
“You never know what you’re going to get into,” she said.
Once practices started, though, Cereola found out. She sounded pleasantly surprised — and relieved — by what she saw.
“It’s kind of a treat when the girls have a nice skill level,” she said. “I remember being like a little kid on Christmas.”
It remains to be seen what exactly is under that wrapping, but Cereola seems to feel good about it. Last season was the Tuckers’ best in their brief history. After winning their first two games against Riverhead and Elwood/John Glenn, they later picked up wins over Bellport, Hampton Bays and Center Moriches. Five straight losses at the end of the season left them with a 5-11 record, which was a step forward from 1-13 the year before.
The strength of the team may be found in the starting middie line of sophomore Katie Hoeg, her cousin, sophomore Audrey Hoeg, and junior Tricia Brisotti. Katie Hoeg has verbally committed to the University of North Carolina, and Brisotti is talking with C.W. Post, the same school Cereola played for after her time at Longwood High School.
“They just work very well together,” Cereola said of the three middies.
Cereola said Katie Hoeg is the first player to pick up a stick at practice and the last one to leave the field. “There is a way that she plays and a way that she carries herself,” Cereola said. “It seems like she’s been on the varsity team forever.”
Marshalling the defense are goalie Nicole L’Hommedieu and defenders Molly Kowalski, Laurel Bertolas and Justine Kundmueller. All of them are seniors.
Erin Feeney, a sophomore attackman, and Chelsea Marlborough, an eighth-grade middie, are also returning starters. Mia Vasile-Cozzo, a sophomore attackman, also brings varsity experience.
Lauren Waters and Liz Dwyer, who both play defense, are expected to help, too, along with attackman Megan McKillop.
Cereola said the players enthusiastically absorb what she teaches them. “I think they were very excited with the progress that they had last year and they’re bringing that same enthusiasm into this year,” she said.
The team goal is an ambitious one: reaching the playoffs, something they have never done before.
“We said if we all do our job, we all do our part, there is no reason why we can’t reach our goal,” Cereola said. “It would be real nice.”