Allowing one goal in a New York State girls lacrosse final was unheard of — until Saturday, that is.
Clichés carry a lot of truth. That’s how they become clichés. What Mattituck/Southold achieved this past weekend is further evidence that defense does indeed win championships.
Make that an awful good defense.
Mattituck rose to its first state championship on the back of a defense that held Bronxville to a single goal Saturday when the Tuckers blew the doors off the Broncos, 12-1, in the Class D final at SUNY/Cortland. It was the lowest single-game goal total allowed by a team in a state final since 1995, when the tournament was created.
Just a day earlier, goalie Claudia Hoeg made a clutch save of a four-meter shot by an unguarded Mia Buckingham with two seconds left to seal a 7-6 semifinal triumph over South Jefferson.
The defense got it done.
“That’s another impressive step by our entire defense,” coach Matt Maloney said. “Claudia helped, but that defense has been playing great for two years.”
He added: “We let up two goals in two [final four] games against our set defense. It’s unbelievable.”
That defense featured Alex Beebe, Ashley Burns, Brianna Fox and Lauren Zuhoski, with Sarah Bihm the first defender off the bench. For much of the season, Hoeg, a junior, and senior Alex Talbot have split games in goal.
“Our defense really executed and we watched film and we knew what to do,” Zuhoski said. “We did great.”
Beebe said: “As a team we pride ourselves on our defense and as a defensive unit we are all friends. We got each other’s backs at all times. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and our communication is always there.”
State champs eight years later
Mattituck was presented with a state championship plaque and its players had medals draped around their necks eight years after the birth of the program. In the four years since Matt Maloney took over as coach, the team has a 52-21 record.
Heading into this season with 21 returning players, including nine who have committed to colleges, the Tuckers looked primed for another state run after losing to Bronxville, 13-7, in last year’s state Class C semifinals.
“It’s incredible,” Maloney said. “I’m really happy for the group. We have really no first-year players on this team so we’ve been through a lot. It’s been a nice four-year journey, getting better every year. It was amazing for them to rise to the occasion in that moment.”
Ten Tuckers scored at least one goal in Mattituck’s four playoff games. Leading the way were Mackenzie Hoeg (nine goals, seven assists), Riley Hoeg (eight goals, eight assists), Francesca Vasile-Cozzo (four goals, 10 assists), Jane DiGregorio (seven goals, four assists), Chelsea Marlborough (five goals, four assists) and Julie Seifert (seven goals) … The state final was the last high school game for Mattituck’s six seniors: Beebe, Burns, DiGregorio, Fox, Marlborough and Talbot.
Top photo caption: Mattituck/Southold defender Brianna Fox, right, tries to cut off a passing lane for South Jefferson attack Molly Hall during the second half of Friday’s state Class D semifinal at SUNY/Cortland. (Credit: Bob Liepa)