The start was a little too bumpy for Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s liking, but before long the Tuckers smoothed things out.
Mattituck finally found its way and, aided by 10 straight goals over a span of 22 minutes 52 seconds, was off and running to a 13-5 defeat of Southampton/Pierson in a Suffolk County Division III boys lacrosse game on Tuesday at Southampton High School’s Richard H. Smith Field.
The Tuckers (3-3, 3-1) might have been a little unnerved when Southampton twice took leads in the first half. Just when it appeared as if things could get dicey for Mattituck, the Tuckers settled down and took control. Max Kruszeski and Tyler Seifert scored in the final 1:56 of the second quarter to give Mattituck a 5-4 halftime lead.
Then, the Tuckers gained more separation in the third quarter. At 8:56 of the fourth they capped a 10-0 burst, four of those goals coming from Tom Hoeg. The junior attackman also had three assists.
What turned things around?
“Ummm, I don’t know, honestly,” Mattituck coach John Amato said. “I’m trying to figure that out myself.”
Southampton looks to be an improved team from a year ago, with a junior goalie, Raymond Hippner, who did well to keep things from turning even more one-sided by making 13 saves. Still, the Tuckers saw this as a must-win game.
“You have to win the ones that you’re supposed to win, and if you can knock someone off, that’s awesome,” said Amato.
Kruszeski whipped in four goals and assisted on another. Tim Schmidt had a hat trick. Matt Mauceri picked up three assists. Dylan Marlborough did his part, winning 17 of 19 faceoffs and coming up with seven ground balls.
“I think we definitely just started to relax, and we started to be ourselves … and the goals came,” said Kruszeski, whose team held a 47-10 advantage in shots.
“They got their groove and they started playing well and feeding off of each other and they got the job done when they needed to,” Amato said. “They’re all good players. They all just got to step up at the same time and we could be dangerous. When they play calm and poised, they can play with anyone.”
Southampton (2-3, 1-3) received two goals from Nick Bontempo and a goal and two assists from Jack Schleicher.
Amato, whose team lost to Babylon last year in the Suffolk Class C final, knows the Tuckers have a way to go if they want to return to that stage.
“We’re still working on things,” he said. “… So, really, we’re still building. We’re looking at a lot of film. What can we work on? What can we improve on? And we just got to keep pushing forward and take it game by game. We can’t have slipups.”
By the fourth quarter, the Tuckers could afford to smile, laugh and relax, with the game safe in hand. Afterward, though, the question remained: How did the Tuckers take charge of the game?
“Maybe we had some jitters coming off the bus,” Hoeg said. “Maybe our warmup wasn’t that great or something. Whatever it was, I’m glad that we turned it around.”
Photo caption: Tom Hoeg, who had four goals and three assists for Mattituck/Greenport/Southold, tries to maneuver around Southampton/Pierson’s Conor Gill. (Credit: Garret Meade)