KINGSMEN 18, TUCKERS 11
The start was a splendid one for the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team. It was the ending that was a downer — and all too familiar — for the Tuckers.
Despite pumping in the first four goals of Monday’s Suffolk County Division II game against Kings Park and leading for most of the first half, the Tuckers gave up seven straight goals to fall behind, 10-5. They were unable to recover, ending up on the short end of an 18-11 final score at Cutchogue West Elementary School.
But, keeping things in perspective for a three-year-old varsity team, the Tuckers (0-5, 0-5) can feel good about the noticeable improvement they have made since last year, even though it isn’t reflected in their win-loss record.
“I think we work together a lot more and we trust each other,” sophomore attackman Laurel Bertolas said. “We were shaky last year with passing. Now I think we work together a lot better and communicate. Now we have the potential to win. Last year we would just try to stay in there, but now we can win this year.”
Although they are still awaiting their first win of the season, the Tuckers have made themselves competitive. They have turned in respectable games such as an 8-7 loss to Deer Park and a 14-11 defeat to Islip. Then again, there have been a couple of clunkers, too, a 17-6 loss to Comsewogue and a 22-6 setback against Huntington.
That is what coach Julie Milliman, who balances her competitive nature with realism, must remind herself. “Our stickwork has improved, but I also think we have a little bit more game sense,” she said. “We’re getting it.”
The Tuckers might have thought a win was in the cards Monday after controlling the tempo and shooting out to a 4-0 lead in the opening 7 minutes 51 seconds. “We came out ready to play,” said Milliman.
They held that lead until Natalie Silvers scored off a draw to tie the score at 5-5 with 4:22 left in the first half. It was the second of seven straight goals by Kings Park (4-2, 4-1), which was able to pick up the pace more to its liking.
Kings Park coach Sally Ayres attributed her team’s slow start to sluggishness from a long bus ride the day after a holiday. “We just had to get ourself together,” she said.
Kings Park was in control through the entire second half. Silvers, a senior, struck for a game-high five goals. Alexandra Plastaras had a stick in six goals, scoring two and assisting on four others. The Kingsmen also received four goals from Emily Santoli. Sarah Plunkett and Jackie Kleeman each added two goals and two assists.
“They’re used to winning games, and we’re not,” Milliman said. She added, “I think we made too many mistakes for it to be a good day, but I think there were some good things to build upon, so it’s a good steppingstone, but it’s not where we want to be.”
The Tuckers received four goals from Katie Hoeg and three from Bertolas. Meg Van Gordan chipped in two goals and one assist.
Although the Tuckers were outshot, 31-20, they did well in other areas. The draws were virtually even, and the Tuckers controlled 23 loose balls to 17 by Kings Park.
“It was not the best game that we could have played,” Hoeg, an eighth-grade midfielder in her second varsity season, said. “We have a lot more potential, but it’s not the worst game we’ve played, either.”
Kings Park was the opponent when the Tuckers played their first varsity game two years ago (a 14-1 result in the Kingsmen’s favor), so Ayres is in a position to appreciate the progress the team has made. “They’re definitely a team to watch,” she said. “They’re getting better and better every year that I’ve seen them. I have a lot of respect for them. They don’t make it easy for anybody.”
Hoeg said it’s fun to go to practice. When the wins arrive, Bertolas said, “It will be a lot more fun.”