Scanning down the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team’s 28-player roster, two things stand out. They would be the Tuckers’ only two seniors. And one of them, goalie Emily Perry, sat out the entire season with an injury.
The only starting player from this year’s team that the Tuckers lose to graduation is defender Corinne Reda.
That’s right. The Tuckers’ future looks like the color of their yellow away uniforms — bright.
Some of Mattituck’s best players should be wearing those uniforms for at least the next couple of years. Players like sophomore attack Riley Hoeg, her sister, freshman midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg, sophomore attack Francesca Vasile-Cozzo, sophomore attack Rachel Janis, sophomore attack Julie Seifert and sophomore goalie Claudia Hoeg look to only get better. Plus, the Tuckers also have a strong cast of juniors in defenders Ashley Burns, Brianna Fox and Alexandra Beebe, and midfielders Jane DiGregorio and Chelsea Marlborough.
This year’s team included six juniors, 13 sophomores and seven freshmen.
“We’ve just been working every single day to get to this point because [for] a lot of us, this is our game and hopefully next year they can live it out longer, but for me, I got to come [upstate] and that’s what I wanted,” Reda said. “The team’s young, so they can definitely grow. They’re so good right now even though they are young, so the next few years we’ll be unstoppable.”
* Dealing with nerves
Given Mattituck’s youth, and the fact that the Tuckers had never reached the state semifinals before, it was interesting to see how they would handle the pressure of playing in a big game against Bronxville in a big stadium at SUNY/Cortland on Friday. Bronxville (a 13-7 winner), on the other hand, played in its fourth straight state semifinal.
“For us there was definitely the thing of nerves,” Mattituck coach Matt Maloney said. “Definitely, that was a big part of it, I think. We had to shake those.”
If the Tuckers felt nervous, it wasn’t obvious in their play.
“I think the nerves got to us,” Jane DiGregorio said. “Nerves are good. They’re good to motivate you, but if you let them get to you, that can happen. I don’t think it was all nerves. I think we settled in and I think we started to play our game.”
Asked how her team handled the pressure, Corinne Reda said: “I sensed more nerves going into the last game for the Long Island championship than I did today. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, or maybe we’re just learning how to deal with that emotion, but I think we definitely need to channel it better into game-speed energy.”
* Remember back then?
Those who remember when Mattituck first picked up a stick to play varsity lacrosse in 2010 (the team’s first game was a 14-1 loss at Kings Park), will recall one-sided scores (not in Mattituck’s favor) and the team struggling with basic skills such as passing and catching.
The Tuckers have come a long way in eight years.
“They’ve come quite a way from when they couldn’t move the ball around one time,” Matt Maloney said. “I think Mattituck has really done a nice job for themselves. A lot of it is the time that they have dedicated, the parents, kids, to bettering themselves and bettering the team.”
Improvement has even been seen over the course of this season.
“I think we’ve all grown so much,” Jane DiGregorio said. “I’ve seen girls who couldn’t catch in the beginning of the season learn how to more than just throw and catch. I’ve seen everyone improve.”
* Some Mustangs-Tuckers love
The Tuckers, in a show of Long Island unity, applauded and cheered Mount Sinai following the Mustangs’ 16-1 blowout of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a state Class C semifinal Friday. The appreciative Mustangs responded, yelling in unison, “Good luck, Mattituck!” before the Tuckers took the field for their game.
Mount Sinai returned the following day to win its third straight state title and fourth in five years with a 15-4 trouncing of Honeoye Falls-Lima.
Photo caption: Mattituck/Southold’s Mackenzie Hoeg tries to impede Bronxville’s Mason Warble, who scored five goals in the state semifinal.(Credit: Lucas Kosmynka)