Say this about the Bellport and Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school boys lacrosse teams: They make a good match for each other.
When the two Suffolk County Division II teams with similar records played on Thursday, it was intense and spellbinding. One team would score, then the other would reply with a goal of its own in a captivating, back-and-forth contest. The lead changed hands six times and the score was tied nine times. The goalkeeping on both sides was exceptional. Through the first three quarters, the only two-goal lead was Bellport’s at 7-5.
By the time the game at Mattituck High School was over, the final margin of separation was two goals, 14-12 in Mattituck’s favor.
“That’s lacrosse!” Mattituck coach John Amato said afterward. “Those are the games that you practice for.”
After James Morrell snapped a 9-9 tie for Bellport with his third goal of the game, Mattituck (5-5, 4-4) responded with four straight goals. Tom Hoeg netted back-to-back goals, set up one by Tyler Seifert and Max Kruszeski whizzed a powerful shot in for a 13-10 lead with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left.
Bellport’s Shawn Wolf and Kruszeski (a lightning-quick shot off a feed from Seifert) then exchanged goals before Bellport’s Brian Reid whipped one in, pulling the Clippers (4-5, 3-4) within 14-12 with 1:21 to go.
With players on both sides serving slashing penalties in the final minute, Mattituck defenseman Colby Suglia came up with the biggest ground ball of the game. The ball was worked back to Mattituck goalie Rob Kruszeski, who then ran out the final seconds before the Tuckers celebrated.
“I love playing in those games,” said Seifert.
Max Kruszeski had missed several games while going to Europe on a school trip. He made up for lost time, pumping in a season-high five goals from 10 shots (four were saved).
“I definitely owe it to my team,” the sophomore midfielder/attack said. “I feel bad that I left them.”
Those goals came in mighty handy, especially against a tough goalie in Steffen Peabody, a 6-foot-4 sophomore.
“I just found myself in the right spots today,” Max Kruszeski said. “I just put it where he’s not, really. That isn’t as easy as it sounds sometimes.”
Hoeg had a tremendous game as well, racking up five assists to go with a pair of goals. Seifert had three goals and two assists. In addition to scoring a goal, Dane Reda went 18-for-30 on faceoffs and won 11 ground balls.
“The team played awesome, awesome,” Amato said. “The energy was great.”
Spearheading the Bellport offense were Wolf (three goals, two assists), Morrell (three goals, one assist) and Reid (two goals, one assist).
A feature of the game was the outstanding play of both goalies. Rob Kruszeski made 12 saves and Peabody had 14.
“I thought it was the little things that added up to a loss,” Bellport coach Charly Rogener said. “It wasn’t one glaring mistake that we made. It was the little things, a couple of ground balls, a couple of times not helping on the crease, a couple of dropped passes. Those things add up.”
How big was the win for Mattituck?
“I would say it was pretty important for us,” Seifert said. “This is definitely going to be something that we can look back on and use as a confidence-booster.”
Max Kruszeski agreed. “This was a big game for us,” he said. “It’s very exciting. Everyone gets into it. The fans are into it. The teams are into it and it just gives everyone that energy, that extra boost of momentum that they need to push forward.”
Photo caption: Max Kruszeski fired in a season-high five goals for Mattituck/Greenport/Southold in its victory over Bellport. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)