SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS C TOURNAMENT | TUCKERS 8, PANTHERS 7
A lacrosse ball isn’t filled with air, but the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school girls team somehow found a way to take the air out of it, nonetheless.
Leading by a goal, the Tuckers returned to the field following a timeout with 2 minutes 45 seconds left and a strategy in mind: a modified version of stall ball. Coach Matt Maloney said his players were told during the timeout to be smart with the ball and move it around the offensive end of the field. He said he didn’t want them to play so tight that they would pass up opportunities.
Chelsea Marlborough took a shot that was saved by Babylon goalkeeper Maddie Peplinski, but Riley Hoeg then came up with a huge ground ball so the Tuckers could retain possession. Another shot by Marlborough was saved, but Babylon never gained possession during that last stretch of the game.
The only other notable activity during that final 2:45 was a hard collision between two Babylon players, Shannon Hartigan and Megan Nerney, while they raced for a ball. Other than that, it was just the Tuckers playing a game of keep-away, running down the scoreboard clock until it read 0:00, and the Tuckers had survived. Their first home playoff game on Friday became the first playoff win in their six-year varsity history, 8-7, and they rushed to celebrate with their eighth-grade goalie, Claudia Hoeg.
The Tuckers had lost to Shoreham-Wading River last year in the only other playoff game they played.
Babylon’s players, who arrived at the field in Cutchogue before any of the Tuckers, were in high spirits before the game, singing and dancing to music in the parking lot. By the time the outbracket game was over, some of them had tears in their eyes.
Jane DiGregorio’s goal off a free-position shot snapped a 7-7 tie with 4:53 left and stood as the game-winner.
The Tuckers (11-5), seeded fourth in the Suffolk County Class C Tournament, earned a place in Wednesday’s semifinal against top-seeded Mount Sinai (15-1).
No. 5 Babylon (8-8), which lost to the Tuckers by 12-11 during the regular season, started the game strong. The Panthers, with the number “5” painted on their right legs in honor of their only senior who wears that uniform number, defenseman Rachel Gregory, won the first six draws. They controlled the draws and possession while building a 4-1 lead on goals by Nerney (two), Emma Ward and Amanda Guerra.
To their credit, the Tuckers did better on draw control and clawed their way back into the game, pulling even at 4-4 when Riley Hoeg converted a free-position shot with 58.9 seconds left in the first half.
Then, on the stroke of halftime, Babylon shot ahead again. A nifty backhanded shot by Ward beat Claudia Hoeg and the clock, which showed 2.2 seconds remaining before the break.
But the Tuckers scored the first two goals of the second half through Katie Hoeg and Trish Brisotti, and never trailed again. Babylon, however, tied the score at 6-6 and 7-7 on goals by Shayne Antolini.
The Tuckers found Peplinski (eight saves) hard to beat, but Katie Hoeg still produced three goals and two assists. Brisotti, a senior playing her final game on her team’s home field, had two goals and six ground balls. Audrey Hoeg also scored for the Tuckers.
Babylon received two goals apiece from Antolini, Ward and Nerney, who also had an assist.