MUSTANGS 12, TUCKERS 1
If ever a loss made a statement, it was the one the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team took on Saturday.
The Tuckers put up a fight, playing on the road against a respected Rocky Point team. Seeking an upset as well as their first win of the season, the Tuckers came out on the short end. Despite three goals from Tom Filipkowski and two from Connor Stumpf, the Tuckers dropped a 7-5 loss. The two-goal margin was narrower than many would have predicted.
“It was the best show of lacrosse that we’ve seen out of this group,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Frank Falco said. “They executed. They played hard. They had an energy level that … I don’t think we had seen in the season up until that point. Obviously, it uncovers what’s beneath the surface and what we’re capable of.”
Falco was hoping for more of the same on Tuesday when the Tuckers played another one of Suffolk County Division II’s more established teams, Mount Sinai. While the Tuckers slowed down Mount Sinai’s offense for the better part of the first half, the Mustangs wore them down and won, 12-1, at Mattituck High School. Mount Sinai (8-5, 7-4) scored the first four goals and then finished the game with eight unanswered strikes.
Perhaps some of the most relevant numbers are the two teams’ rosters sizes: Mount Sinai 26, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold 16.
And that’s not even as big a gulf as there usually is. Falco said the Tuckers (0-10, 0-10) usually play teams that have 30 or more players.
“I can talk about that all I want, but the truth is we can’t make excuses,” he said. “We have 16 capable young men, and they have to get it done.”
Mount Sinai, a Class C team, reached last year’s county final for the second time in three years, losing to Bayport-Blue Point. Chad Marino, a senior attackman, may be a little fuzzy about certain details of that game, but he recalls the feeling of losing it as if it was yesterday.
“We had them at halftime by, I think, two goals, and we just couldn’t pull it out,” he said. “But it was a real close game. I think we lost by a goal. It was a tough loss. That definitely gives us a lot of motivation for this year.”
The Mustangs, who were county champions three years ago and state champions four years ago, are determined to return to the playoffs and get their revenge. Some patience was required on their part Tuesday, though, as they encountered a stubborn zone defense. The Tuckers held Mount Sinai to one goal in the first quarter, by Jack O’Brien 9 minutes 30 seconds into the game.
By the time 17:06 had expired, the score was a respectable 4-0.
Then Connor Malone scored for the Tuckers off an assist from Stumpf with 1:56 left in the first half. That was the only goal of the day allowed by Mount Sinai’s goalies, Billy Poillon and Charlie Faughnan, who combined for 11 saves. The Tuckers came close to scoring more goals, but sent five shots off the pipe.
Marino fired in three second-quarter goals and assisted on another, helping Mount Sinai to a 6-1 halftime lead. He finished with four goals. O’Brien added two goals and one assist, Pat Hogan had one goal and two assists, and Ray Jensen scooped up six ground balls for the Mustangs.
Mount Sinai held a 38-20 advantage in shots, won 12 of 16 face-offs and picked up eight more ground balls than the Tuckers did.
Tuckers goalie Nick Tesiny (10 saves) “was making some nice saves and they were playing good,” Marino said, “but we knew our shots were going to fall eventually, and they started to in the second and third quarters.”
The score was 9-1 after three quarters.
Mount Sinai coach Harold Drumm, whose team was tuning up for a big game against Sayville on Thursday, said his players are undoubtedly skilled, but need to play with desire. “We can’t just rely on the talent on the team,” he said.
For the Tuckers, fatigue became a factor, particularly for middies who have to cover a lot of ground.
“Today we should have finished more, and our face-offs weren’t as [good] as we wanted them to be, but it wasn’t that bad,” said Stumpf, a junior attackman. “We just got really tired again.”
That isn’t the only issue the Tuckers have had to deal with in their second varsity season, either. Tim Corcoran, who had been coaching the team and was involved in the program since its inception, resigned following his arrest on April 20 on charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Falco, who had been the assistant coach, was then put in charge of the team.
“The expectation at this point from the outside looking in, I don’t even know what it would be with all that’s gone on, but I’m trying to keep the kids focused on the game of lacrosse, and Saturday they had that focus,” Falco said. “Today we lost a little bit of it. Same old story at times. We had some momentum, just not enough.”
“When you’re trying to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes the tunnel is just too long; you can’t see it even if it’s there,” he continued. “That’s what I try to teach the kids. You just have to keep going forward.”
The game in Rocky Point might have represented a step forward.
“We actually had a legit shot at winning that game, but that doesn’t do us any good because we still had the same result,” Falco said, “and we had it again today.”