TORNADOES 6, TUCKERS 3
They leave with no championships. They leave without having experienced a playoff game. They leave without having enjoyed a winning season. But that doesn’t mean the nine seniors on the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team bid adieu to their high school playing careers without having left an impact.
Should the Tuckers someday win a Suffolk County championship, they may look back to this group of seniors and say it started with them.
Some of the seniors played for the Tuckers’ first varsity team as freshmen. This year they were all part of the third varsity season (when they were sophomores, the Tuckers dropped the varsity team and played a junior varsity schedule). This is the year that may be referred to as the year when the Tuckers made a significant move toward becoming competitive.
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold went 3-25 in its first two varsity seasons, but completed its 2013 season with a 6-10 record, 4-10 in Suffolk County Division II.
“I think the seniors, including me, just got tired of losing,” said senior defenseman Chris Baglivi.
This year was undoubtedly a step forward for the Tuckers, who defeated Brentwood, Hampton Bays (twice), Center Moriches, Deer Park and Bishop McGann-Mercy. Unquestionably, the Tuckers were the victims of some blowouts, too, but the progress was evident. The team’s rookie coach, Ryan Mahoney, was quick to credit the players and the coaches who ran the team before him.
“With the groundwork that the previous coaches laid, it helped me a lot, and we’re starting to turn it around,” he said. “It’s getting there.”
The Tuckers were hoping to send their seniors off with a win in their final high school game on Thursday, but it wasn’t to be. Harborfields scored the game’s first five goals on the way to a 6-3 win at Mattituck High School. Terrence Haggerty, a sophomore attackman, led five Harborfields scorers with two goals from seven shots and one assist. Troy Bocchicchio and Christopher Tirrito added a goal and an assist each for the Tornadoes (6-9, 6-7), who also received goals from Collin Maher and Ryan Vassar.
Koli Snodgrass (three saves) and Kyle Lumpe (seven saves) each played a half in goal for Harborfields. The Tornadoes held a 32-21 advantage in shots.
Mahoney started all of his seniors. In addition to Baglivi, Christian Davis, Casey Grathwohl, Kevin Izzo, Colin McCoy, Ben Pileski, Connor Stumpf, Nick Tesiny and Justin Tyler trotted onto the field wearing the Tuckers’ uniform for the last time.
“For myself it was definitely difficult,” Baglivi said. “It was definitely emotional. My head wasn’t where I wanted it to be because I was just thinking, ‘This is the last time I’m going to be on the field.’ It’s sad.”
Tesiny, who backed up Alec Durkin in goal for much of the season, played the entire game and played quite well. He made 10 saves, about half of which were especially tough.
Asked afterward if he was inspired by the occasion, Tesiny replied: “I’m always inspired to play well. If it was any other day, I would have played just as well. I guess today because it was Senior Night, there was definitely something in the air.”
The Tuckers didn’t register their first goal until Jack DiGregorio’s unassisted strike 8 minutes 30 seconds into the third quarter. Fourth-quarter goals for the Tuckers were supplied, fittingly, by seniors, Grathwohl and Izzo (assisted by Stumpf). It was also during that quarter when Izzo and Connor Malone fired shots off the pipe.
Harborfields looked like a playoff team even though its coach, Rich Petillo, said the Tornadoes do not have a chance to make it into the postseason.
“That’s the problem,” he said. “It’s been up and down. There was a turning point in the season where we’ve stepped it up and played well against the good teams, and then we didn’t carry it over to the next game, so we couldn’t maintain that high intensity, that high level. That’s something that they have to learn.”
Taking note of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s record, Petillo said he noticed an improvement in the Tuckers.
“That’s a huge compliment to the coach and the players out here,” he said. “They’re working hard and you can see it on the field. This is a nice team.”
Some of the Tuckers — like Baglivi, Izzo, McCoy and Stumpf — have college lacrosse in their future. For others, it may be the last time they play.
“It’s weird that it’s over,” Tesiny said. “We were the beginning, but we pass it on to another generation that will keep it going.”