With scant seconds remaining in a tightly contested match, Dane Reda flipped the ball as high as he could to make sure no Babylon player could get it.
“I was just running around there, trying not to the lose the ball,” the Mattituck sophomore attack said. “I saw a couple of seconds left, so I just chucked it and ran to the goalie.”
By the time the ball came down to earth, the final buzzer sounded and the Tuckers finally had a lacrosse championship to call their own — their first Suffolk County title — with a 4-2 Class D win at Islip High School Tuesday.
By the time the Tuckers face their next challenge, they should have come back down to earth themselves.
“It feels awesome,” said Reda, who scored a late insurance goal. “We said at the beginning of the year we had the team to do it and we did.”
Mattituck (11-6) had overcome the disappointment of losing in the 2015 and 2016 finals.
“So proud of them,” said coach John Amato, who got the obligatory championship water bucket bath from his team afterwards. “I just feel the experience of the first two times those kids taught us what it was like. They brought us to that moment. The younger guys saw that stage and they wanted to be on that stage when it was their time. So, the older guys laid the foundation for these guys and gave them the confidence to get the job done.”
So, the third time was indeed the charm for the Tuckers, even if it was one of the lowest scoring finals.
“Me and a lot of guys on the team have been playing since kindergarten,” said defenseman Jacob Dominy, one of five seniors. “It’s just surreal. I mean, there’s no way to describe it. It was like, finally, we did it. All the days in March, when it’s freezing, it’s worth it getting out there on the field.”
The Tuckers won a championship on the same field at which their boys and girls soccer teams lost in the county finals last year.
Senior attack Ryan Herrmann knew what that field meant to him. He was a member of the Southold team that lost to Pierson/Bridgehampton in the Class C soccer final there last year. Mattituck and Southold field a combined team for lacrosse.
“I definitely wanted my redemption because it was pretty heart breaking, senior year, losing to Pierson on this field,” said Herrmann, who scored the first two goals. “But then I just blocked it out, played for the team.”
The Tuckers will have to get up early Saturday morning to take a 68-mile trip to Hofstra University in Hempstead to meet Oyster Bay in the Long Island final at 10 a.m.
No problem for Mattituck.
“I love to be playing right now,” Dominy said.
The game was so unlike a lacrosse match, thanks to a combination of near misses, great saves by both goalies, good defense, inept passing and questionable shot selection.
In fact, the early part resembled a soccer game, it was so low scoring.
“It definitely kept everyone’s adrenaline up, kept everyone pumped,” Herrmann said. “Close game, makes it good for the fans, not so good for the coaches.”
Mattituck led 1-0 after the first quarter, thanks to Herrmann’s goal from the right side with 8:24 remaining in the period and 2-0 after the senior’s second score with 2:24 left in the second after a great run from the right side that beat goalie Brendan Watt.
Babylon’s (8-9) Sean Baudille sliced the lead in half with 1:19 remaining in the third.
“It was really slow and kind of boring, to be honest,” Reda said of the game. “It was sloppy, but we got it done.”
Reda played his part. He set up Ethan Schmidt with a pin-point pass for a 3-1 margin 44 seconds into the third quarter. After Rory McGetrick closed the gap to 3-2, picking up a rebound of a blocked shot and putting it past goalie Shawn Howell, Reda tallied off a fast break off a Max Kruszeski pass with 6:06 remaining.
“I ran down, I looked for my teammates,” said Reda, who has a team-high 29 assists. “The defense played it well. So, there wasn’t another option but to shoot. Luckily it went in.”
Both teams had chances to fill the net in the waning minutes but kept on turning the ball over.
Amato said his team, which had an 18-day layoff, is far from finished.
“We can make it all the way to the states if we can just continue on our course,” he said.
Top photo caption: Ryan Herrmann, left, Justin Tobin and Dane Reda celebrate. (Credit: Garret Meade)