The icy chill in the air didn’t dampen John Amato’s spirits. That may be because, the cold weather aside, the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school boys lacrosse coach had other things to feel good about.
As he watched his players zip passes and take shots during drills at Mattituck High School on Friday, Amato spoke excitedly about his team’s prospects for the coming season.
For one thing, the Tuckers retain many of the same faces they had last year. Only two starters are gone from the 2014 team.
Another source of encouragement has been the player turnout. Forty-seven players came out for the team.
That’s the sort of interest that can be generated by a team that has enjoyed a tiny taste of success. Last year, the fourth in their varsity history, the Tuckers reached the playoffs for the first time. They lost to Bayport-Blue Point in a Suffolk County Class C Tournament outbracket game, but getting into the postseason was the important thing.
Not that the Tuckers had that great of a record. They went 4-13.
That record may be nothing to write home about, but Amato said, “We won the small battles, and we’re hoping that those turn into bigger battles this year.”
Those small battles might have been winning a quarter or a half. This year the Tuckers are looking to win more games.
More wins will be essential if the Tuckers are to return to the playoffs. Section XI has scraped the divisional power-rating system. Teams will now need a .500 league record to gain entry into the postseason. The Tuckers will play in League IV against other Class C teams.
“I feel like as long as we take it day by day, take care of the little things, we should definitely make playoffs this year,” said Amato.
Jack DiGregorio, Tim Schmidt and a veteran defense are the team’s foundation.
DiGregorio, an all-division senior midfielder, produced 20 goals and 16 assists last season.
“He’s come a long way,” Amato said. “He’s really bought into being a leader, and he’s starting to fulfill that role, lead by example and do the little things.”
Schmidt, a junior attackman, was given the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Unsung Hero Award. Schmidt led the team with 28 goals to go with nine assists.
Another attackman, sophomore James Hoeg, was good for 14 goals and four assists.
Chris Mauceri, Matt Carter, Dylan Holmes and Tristin Ireland are part of an experienced defense along with goalie Alec Durkin. Jeff Hauser, Cal Seifert and Lucas Webb were starting midfielders and Dylan Marlborough is a face-off specialist.
Also offering varsity experience are goalie Adam Steele, defenseman Tom Riley and midfielders Tyler Seifert, Zach Holmes and Pete Fouchet.
The Tuckers appear to have more depth than they ever did before. Also competing for positions are: goalie Robbie Kruszeski, defensemen Tyler Corrigan and Tom Kinsley, midfielders Max Kruszeski and Carson Hughes, and attackmen Matt Mauceri, Tom Hoeg and Ben Savercool.
“This year we have a lot of numbers,” Amato said. “We have a lot of good players who have been playing this game for a long time, so that competition really brings the best out of everyone, and not everyone is guaranteed their spot.”
Amato said the Tuckers are more advanced in their lacrosse development. Trying to assimilate players from different travel teams isn’t easy, but the Tuckers have played in summer and winter leagues to get a jump on the school season.
“That’s a lot of lacrosse,” Amato said. “The commitment is there, which helps.”