PHANTOMS 15, TUCKERS 5
Ryan Mahoney learned a lot about his Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team the morning after a recent loss to Islip. The first-year coach arrived at the field at 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. practice, only to find that his players had already been on the field, training on their own for an hour.
That spoke volumes about how the Tuckers feel about losing and their genuine desire to improve.
“This is my first year coaching,” Mahoney said, “but I can tell you already that I’ll never forget that because it shows that my players want to win and they want to get better, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that as a coach.”
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold began its third varsity season last month by winning its first two games, equaling its win total from 2012. Even the Tuckers’ third straight loss since those two wins, a 15-5 defeat to well-respected Bayport-Blue Point on Thursday, showed signs of progress. Playing such a team in their first two years, the Tuckers might have been boxed in their own half of the field and trounced by a greater margin.
The way the game started at Mattituck High School, it might have appeared headed that way. After Bayport-Blue Point (5-0, 3-0 Suffolk County Division II) won the opening face-off, Ryan Hake dashed down the field and zipped a shot into the goal. It was 1-0 Bayport-Blue Point, and only 18 seconds had elapsed.
But the Tuckers (2-3, 0-3) kept their composure and hung with the Phantoms. The score was 2-0 after one quarter and a respectable 5-1 at halftime.
Bayport-Blue Point’s quality came through in the third quarter when it stretched its lead to 10-2.
“They made us pay for the mistakes we made,” Mahoney said. “If we make an errant pass, they’ll come down and put it away. If we mess up on the side, they’ll capitalize on it and score, and that’s what a good team does.”
And Bayport-Blue Point is a good team. The Phantoms, only two years removed from a state final, have played in the past three county finals. They entered Thursday’s action tied with Sayville and Shoreham-Wading River for third place in Division II. The Tuckers knew full well what they were up against.
“I was nervous in school today,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold attackman Kevin Izzo said. “I’m not going to lie.”
It doesn’t hurt the Phantoms that they also have players like the Ward brothers, Brian and Kevin.
Brian Ward became Bayport-Blue Point’s all-time points leader on Thursday. The senior attackman, who is headed to Ohio State, scored the 273rd point of his career with his goal with 10 minutes 35 seconds left in the game. Brian Ward, who has been on the team since he was an eighth grader, finished the contest with 2 goals and 3 assists.
“Today’s a special day,” Bayport-Blue Point coach Mike Luce said. “That’s good stuff for him.”
Kevin Ward provided Bayport-Blue Point with 4 goals and 1 assist. Multiple goals were also contributed by Austin Belz (2 goals, 4 assists), Hake (3 goals, 1 assist) and Jack White (2 goals). George Ringer and Jake Weinman also scored for the Phantoms.
Luce said he had expected a sharper showing by his team, but he couldn’t fault the effort. “This team gives me heart every single day,” he said.
Bayport-Blue Point won 16 of 23 face-offs and outshot the Tuckers, 44-17. The Phantoms might have had more goals if not for some fine goalkeeping by freshman Alec Durkin, who made 13 saves.
“He’s incredible,” said Izzo.
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold received 2 goals from Izzo. Colin McCoy added a goal and an assist, with Casey Grathwohl and Zach Holmes also finding the net for the Tuckers.
“We’re getting better every day,” Tuckers first-line middie Jack DiGregorio said. “We just got to keep taking steps in the right direction.”
Mahoney said he sees the progress, but he also notices the little things his inexperienced team needs to work on, like picking up ground balls, making crisp passes, not going offsides.
“It’s frustrating when you lose 15-5,” he said. “It’s not fun for us, but there are some positives in there. I mean, there are no moral victories. We lost, 15-5, but we can learn and just move on. That’s all we can do.”