TUCKERS 16, MARINERS 4
If the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse players are looking for any last-minute birthday gift ideas for their coach, he made it clear that a piece of team history would suit him just fine. Make that the first winning streak in team history.
The Tuckers have the opportunity to do that on Friday when they will play Center Moriches the same day as coach Frank Falco celebrates his birthday. The coach would not divulge his age, saying only, “I’m still under 40.”
On Thursday night the Tuckers marked another birthday, the 16th of their long-pole middie, James Burns, by picking up their first win of the season and the second in their two-year varsity history at the expense of winless Southampton. After losses in their previous 11 games this season — all in Suffolk County Division II — the 16-4 victory was a sweet one for the Tuckers.
“It means a lot to our coach, to our team, to everyone who is involved in this whole program, to the parents who come out and support us in every game,” said junior midfielder Tomasz Filipkowski.
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold and Southampton had entered Thursday’s game as two of Suffolk’s three winless teams (Center Moriches was the other. Those three teams held the bottom three positions in the standings.
The Tuckers took charge from the start on the wet field turf at Southampton High School on a gloomy, drizzly evening. They struck for the game’s first four goals, two of which were assisted by Casey Grathwohl, and never trailed or even looked in danger of falling behind as they struck for a season-high total in goals while conceding a season-low figure. The Tuckers outshot the Mariners, 46-13, and dominated in the ground-ball count as well, 56-29.
“The execution was excellent,” Falco said. “They did it for the whole game, from start to finish, whistle to whistle, and I’m proud as heck because this is what we knew could happen.”
Five goals and two assists from Patrick Robbins led the Tuckers, who entered the game in 20th place, one spot and 1.53 power-rating points over Southampton (0-11, 0-10).
But Robbins was hardly the only Tuckers player who deserved plaudits. Connor Stumpf (three goals, three assists, five ground balls), Filipkowski (three goals, one assist, nine ground balls) and Jack DiGregorio (three goals, one assist, five ground balls) also fed the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold offense. Liam Shuford earned praise from Falco for his defensive work on the wings. Tuckers goalie Nick Tesiny made five saves. He received excellent protection from defensemen Chris Baglivi, Matt Carter and Joe Peroni.
“Today we just brought the whole game,” Filipkowski said. “We went hard for the entire 48 minutes.”
After Southampton netted its second goal, the first of two in the game by Evan Scheuch, making it a three-goal game 4 minutes 49 seconds into the second quarter, the Tuckers rang up the next seven goals (including two apiece from Filipkowski, DiGregorio and Robbins) to take a comfortable 12-2 lead into the fourth quarter.
“It was great,” DiGregorio, a freshman midfielder, said. “We all put our heart out on the field.”
Marcus Clarke was involved in all four Southampton goals, scoring one and assisting on the three others.
Falco said his team had some good practices leading up to Thursday’s game. He had warned his players not to take the game lightly, knowing full well that Southampton was hungry for a win, too. He said the mood on the bus ride to the game was loose.
“When it works, it looks great,” Falco said. “This could really help us going forward. We have a chance to prove that we’re better than the record says.”
Winning can work wonders for a team, and the Tuckers want to experience more of it.
“On the calendar, you got that little ‘W’,” Filipkowski said. “It just keeps you going. When you win, you want to win more.”