Mattituck’s 16-4 boys lacrosse win over East Meadow Saturday won’t help the Tuckers in the Suffolk County Division II standings because it was a non-league game.
But the way the Tuckers played in the tournament game at Brentwood High School could wind up being a springboard for the rest of the year.
The Tuckers enjoyed their best game of the young season, outplaying the Nassau County school in every facet of the game, from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer.
“I thought we played well as a team,” midfielder Max Kruszeski said before correcting himself. “I thought we played great as a team, actually.
“Today we had a bunch of great glimpses of what we can do well as a team. And if we play like that all the time, then we have the potential to be a really great team.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, Mattituck (2-2) was in a different mood after dropping a hard-fought 11-9 decision to Eastport/South Manor.
“We recollected [ourselves] and understood what had to be done in order to pull out this win,” goalie Shawn Howell said.
“I was proud of the boys of how they rebounded,” coach John Amato said.
Kruszeski, who led the Tuckers’ attack with four goals and two assists, agreed.
“We actually came off a tough loss,” he said. “So, coming back today and being able to pull this off was a great way to bounce back. It was a good momentum builder. We really can build morale. Everyone gets a little excited. It’s a great way to just amp up the energy, keep everyone positive and willing to fight.”
And the win was a confidence builder as well. The Tuckers are a Class D team while the Jets (0-5) are Class A.
“East Meadow’s a big school,” Amato said. “They’re big, tough athletic kids. For our morale, it was exactly what we needed.
“It’s a boost of confidence because you’ve got to think their player pool that they’re selecting from compared to ours, [which] is very thin.”
The Tuckers came out strong as Ethan Schmidt (three goals) scored 13 seconds into the match as they rolled up a 6-0 first-quarter advantage and never looked back. Schmidt added a second goal while Dane Reda (two goals, three assists), Gregg Hauser, Willie Burns (two goals) and Ryan Herman added tallies against starting goalie Brendan Pedisich. Kruszeski assisted on two goals before scoring his first in the second quarter and three in the third period.
In fact, Mattituck struck off the opening faceoff in each half as Dane Reda beat goalie Jacob Craven 12 seconds into the final half for an 8-0 bulge.
“It’s something in the past that we haven’t been that great at,” Kruszeski said. “It’s always important to get off the bus, just be able get right after it and assert ourselves as a team. It really builds up confidence of everyone on the team. It’s a great way to show what we’ve got, intimidate the team a little bit and assert ourselves.”
Howell, selected the player of the game by tournament officials, had his shutout bid denied by Steve Calderaro with three minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He played a little more than three periods, making six saves. His replacement, Tyler Shuford, did not make any.
A solid defense, led by Riley Peterson and Cobly Suglia, certainly helped.
“They made his job a little easier,” Amato said. “No matter what, if we have a miscue on defense, Sean is always there to bail us out when we need it. The defense does a good in front of them. Sean comes up with some saves he has no business making, which really helps.”
The runaway score gave Amato an opportunity to use every player on his bench as John Lyda, Nicholas Dervicola, Burns and Ryan Seifert found the range in the fourth quarter.
“I was really proud the starters did their business, so everybody could get their opportunity to shine,” Amato said. “They work hard in practice and they don’t always get the opportunity and they made the most of it, which was cool.”