Perhaps it’s appropriate that the new Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse coach has not-too-distant roots to Shoreham-Wading River’s vaunted program.
Because of his ties to Shoreham-Wading River, Ryan Mahoney may have a more suitable background than most to appreciate how difficult it is to launch a lacrosse program in Suffolk County, and how important it is to remain patient for the wins to come. He also knows there can be some big rewards in the end.
It surely took time for Shoreham-Wading River. Like many new teams, the Wildcats took their lumps and went 3-29 in their first two varsity seasons in 1994 and 1995 before going 7-9 in their third year. Now Shoreham-Wading River is regarded as one of the county’s perennial powers. Mahoney himself was a defenseman for Shoreham-Wading River’s state champion team in 2007, his senior year.
So Mahoney, 23, who believes he is the youngest varsity boys lacrosse coach in the county, knows full well that a program can pull itself up from its bootstraps — but it’s going to take time.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said Monday afternoon while surveying his players as they warmed up for practice. “It’s a process.”
With two varsity seasons under its belt, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold has a similar record to the one Shoreham-Wading River had at this stage in its development: 3-25.
Seven games into last season, Tim Corcoran, who had coached the team since its inception, resigned following his arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. An assistant coach, Frank Falco, took over the team for the remainder of the season and oversaw the first back-to-back wins in the team’s short history. The victories over Southampton and Center Moriches stood as the only wins for the Tuckers in a 2-12 season.
And now, a new season is upon the Tuckers.
“It’s a new program, which means the kids are very enthusiastic,” Mahoney said. “With the potential here, the future looks bright, and as a team, we’re just looking to improve each and every year. As long as we can improve from last year, we’re doing very well.”
Connor Stumpf, an all-division attackman, heads a cast of returning players along with four other seniors: defenseman Chris Baglivi, middie Casey Grathwohl, middie Connor Malone and goalie Nick Tesiny. Also back from last year’s team are middie Jack DiGregorio, defenseman Matt Carter, attackman Pat Robbins, defenseman James Burns, defenseman Justin Tyler and defenseman Ben Pileski.
Among the new additions are middie Zach Holmes, goalie Alec Durkin and middie Colin McCoy, a transfer from Virginia.
The Tuckers are seeded 19th out of 21 Division II teams.
“I see glimpses of a good team right now, and that’s promising,” Mahoney said. “We have winnable games on our schedule, which is promising, and it’s great for these kids to get a few wins here and there because that creates motivation.”
Mahoney said the Tuckers have been focusing on the basics in their early practices. He likes the athleticism he has seen from his players and has raved about their attitudes.
“They’re excited to get going here,” he said. “They’re excited to learn. They’re always willing to get better. It’s a huge help as a coach.”
Mahoney said he is anxious to see what the Tuckers do Friday when they open their season at home with a non-league game against Brentwood.
“Friday will show us where we need more work,” he said. “It’s so cool that it’s finally here. I’ve been waiting for this for a while. The winter workouts and stuff we’ve been doing have been nice, but it’s almost been like a tease. So, now I can finally say we’re ready and we’re here and we’re ready to go.”