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Girls Lacrosse: Tuckers control draws, Center Moriches in opener

In its own way, it was a work of art. Among other things, the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school girls lacrosse team has shown it can draw.

And that’s no small thing. Draw control is huge. It means possessions, and possessions can translate into goals.

Katie Hoeg handled the bulk of Mattituck’s draws last year, winning 64 of them. Now the four-time all-county player and Newsday All-Long Island team member plies her craft for the University of North Carolina.

That left a void that was filled by six players who totaled 16-for-24 on draws as Mattituck rolled to a 19-3 season-opening win over outmatched Center Moriches on Tuesday at Cutchogue West Elementary School.

“Everyone that went in the draw circle worked so hard,” said one of those players, Mackenzie Hoeg, Katie’s sister. “We were trying to get the ball as much as possible, and that’s what really wins games because you have to have the ball to win.”

Mattituck, which reached the Suffolk County Class C semifinals and went 12-5 last year, lost a lot with the graduations of Katie Hoeg and her cousin Audrey Hoeg, who is playing for William & Mary in Virginia. Katie Hoeg graduated from Mattituck High School with a school record 517 points (306 goals, 211 assists). Last year she brought the Tuckers 56 goals, 58 assists, 39 ground balls and 22 forced turnovers/takeaways in addition to her draw controls.

That is an awful lot to make up.

“Obviously Katie contributed to basically everything, but we kind of knew coming into the season that other people had to step up,” said Mackenzie Hoeg.

The bottom line is Mattituck, now a Class D team, is still quite good. The Tuckers have 12 returning players, including nine who were starters last year. Eight Tuckers have verbally committed to play for NCAA Division I or II teams, said coach Matt Maloney.

“As far as the Class D playoffs, I think we’re one of the best teams in the state, but we still have to go out and prove that,” he said.

The first step was Tuesday. Center Moriches won the game-opening draw. Before the Red Devils’ next possession of any considerable length, Mattituck had already pumped in seven goals, two by Mackenzie Hoeg. Hoeg’s third goal made it 12-0 by the time the non-league game was 12 minutes, 44 seconds old. The freshman finished with four goals, two assists and seven loose balls controlled.

Center Moriches got on the scoreboard when Paige Volkmann found the net with 10:17 left in the first half. The other two Center Moriches goals came from Maddie Juliano.

Mattituck looked sharp, with pinpoint passing and accurate finishing, scoring on 19 of its 26 shots. The Tuckers made it look easy.

“They push themselves, especially that group that’s returning,” Maloney said. “They know what it’s going to take to beat those good teams, and they know that every pass matters. Every turnover can be in your goal if you’re not careful. I think they really get that valuing possession of the ball.”

The score was 15-1 at halftime, and Mattituck spent a good deal of the second half playing keep-away, working the ball around the field to eat up time.

When it was over, Jane DiGregorio had three goals, four assists and four loose balls controlled. Julie Seifert fired in three goals. Riley Hoeg, Mackenzie’s sister, had two goals and three assists. Chelsea Marlborough added two goals and one assist in addition to winning six of seven draws. Francesca Vasile-Cozzo had two assists to go with a goal.

“I thought it was good,” DiGregorio said. “I mean, it’s not the best competition we’re going to see all year, but it’s nice to see a lot of girls score their first varsity goal and get in their first varsity game.”

And the Tuckers did this without a single one of their two seniors playing for them. Defenseman Corinne Reda was resting a black-and-blue toe that was stepped on in a scrimmage Saturday and goalie Emily Perry had another school-related commitment, said Maloney.

“There’s going to be some times where I’m sure we still struggle to figure some things out early in the season,” Maloney said, “but signs point to us hopefully not being as good as last year, but being better than last year.”

DiGregorio said, “I’m excited to see what’s to come.”

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Photo caption: Mackenzie Hoeg supplied Mattituck/Greenport/Southold with four goals, two assists and seven loose balls controlled in its season-opening rout of Center Moriches. (Credit: Garret Meade)