DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Sydney Sanders, one of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s two seniors, looking for a teammate to pass to during her last game for the Tuckers.
GOLDEN FLASHES 16, TUCKERS 7
The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team had a rough assignment on Friday. The Tuckers had their hands full dealing with Sayville, possibly the strongest team they have faced all year. And yet, despite that, perhaps the toughest thing the team’s two seniors had to do was keep their composure during an emotional Senior Day ceremony following the final game of their high school careers. One of the seniors, attackman Natalie Troisi, said she told herself not to cry.
It didn’t help.
“Yes, I did cry,” she said. “I mean, it’s just so upsetting.”
The other senior, attackman/defenseman Sydney Sanders, could relate. “It’s heartbreaking because I’m not going to continue playing in college,” she said, “so as the time was winding down, I was like, ‘This is it.’ ”
The final result, a 16-7 score in Sayville’s favor at Cutchogue West Elementary School, wasn’t what the Tuckers had hoped for, but it was hardly surprising. Sayville (14-2, 12-2 Suffolk County Division II), which started the day in third place, closed out the regular season with its seventh straight win. County champions in 2009 and county semifinalists last year, the Golden Flashes look primed for a run at the Suffolk Class B crown. Their only two losses have been by two goals to Mount Sinai and by one goal to defending county champion Eastport/South Manor.
“Our two losses were tough, against two very tough teams, close games,” said Sayville coach Adam Sznitken.
Furthermore, the Golden Flashes have pumped in 11.8 goals per game. But what really impressed on Friday was Sayville’s defense, which allows opponents no openings, no creases, no room to shoot. All the defensemen seemed to be in the right place at the right time, leaving the Tuckers with precious few passing options.
“We work hard on being in the right spots and getting to an aggressive point,” Sznitken said. “This year the defense has been the key, knowing that from our goalie to the seven girls playing back there on defense, we’re always going to give ourselves what we feel is a good shot to win a game. Yeah, it starts on the defense.”
All things considered, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold did a good job by scoring seven goals. Sayville has a team goals-against average of 5.81.
Although Mattituck/Greenport/Southold controlled 17 of the 26 draws, Sayville won the ground-ball battle, 19-10, and outshot the Tuckers, 25-17. All three of Sayville’s goalies — Gianna Minogue, Molly Andrews and Amber Craver — were well protected. They had two saves among them.
At the other end of the field, Sayville’s offense was taking care of business. Olivia Russell, a sophomore attackman, scored three goals as Sayville shot out to a 5-1 lead in the opening 12 minutes 11 seconds. She finished with six goals. Taylor Mills, a senior attackman, supplied four goals and four assists. Caroline DeLuca (two goals, one assist) and Kaitilyn Wandelt (two goals) also scored multiple goals for the Golden Flashes. Jewels Johnston (one goal, three assists) and Mackenzie Burns (one goal, two assists) also scored. Elizabeth Koehler contributed two assists.
Sanders scored in her final game for the Tuckers, cutting Sayville’s lead to 5-3 at 15:11 of the first half. Then Sayville netted six of the next seven goals.
The Tuckers received two goals and three assists from Katie Hoeg and two goals and one assist from Tricia Brisotti. Laurel Bertolas and Audrey Hoeg also found the net.
The Tuckers (5-11, 4-10) closed out the most successful season in the team’s four-year varsity history with their fifth consecutive loss. Last year they went 1-13.
This season the Tuckers won their first two games against Riverhead and Elwood/John Glenn before later taking games from Bellport, Hampton Bays and Center Moriches.
“Coming from last year, I wasn’t sure how we were going to do, but I’m so proud of this team,” Troisi said. “We pushed past what anyone expected. No one expected us to crush Bellport, to come close to Westhampton. I mean, these are good teams and we were holding our own.”
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Julie Milliman said, “This was a good season because it shows them that they’re capable of winning.” She added: “We didn’t get blown out in as many games as we have in the past. There were only a few that were completely out of our reach, and next season I think we’ll close the gap even more.”
Of course, next season they will be without Sanders and Troisi, who are both three-year varsity players. They were presented with flowers and posters that their teammates wrote messages on and signed.
Troisi, who is considering playing at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue next year, said she was determined to put everything she had into her final game for the Tuckers.
“I just felt like I had to give it my all,” she said. “This is my last hurrah, you know. I had to really push as hard as I could. I tried to get back on D as much as I could, help the midfielders out.”
Sanders said it will take time for it to sink in that she had played her last lacrosse game.
“I think it will set in Monday, not going to practice,” she said. “It will be weird going home” after school.
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Audrey Hoeg taking a shot against Sayville goalie Molly Andrews.