Mattituck High School has become the little engine that could in Suffolk County Division II boys lacrosse.
The Tuckers have consistently beaten larger schools, including Deer Park, Hauppauge and Elwood/John Glenn.
On Friday, they added Kings Park to their list with a solid 10-8 road victory.
That will toughen up the Tuckers (9-5, 8-4) when they play for the Class D title later this month.
“A lot of these bigger schools, they get chippy when they see a small D team come in and beat up on them,” defenseman Riley Peterson said. “They really toughen us up because we get used to playing in tough situations when they’re really riding our butt. It really strengthens the team.”
“It gives us a lot of confidence that we can play,” added Ethan Schmidt, who finished with three goals and an assist.
Mattituck, one of the smaller schools in the division, if not the smallest, was ranked 14th out of 26 team with 111.74 power points entering the game. The Kingsmen (7-6, 6-6), a Class B school, were in 10th place with 121.14 points.
“This year we talked about taking a step up and beating some of those B schools,” Mattituck coach John Amato said. “We’ve beaten a ton of B and C schools. It’s a huge momentum boost and to show you can do it against real good competition — that was a real good team that we just beat.”
“No matter how many times I say that they can do it, if they don’t believe in it, it makes it really hard. But I feel this is an eye-opener. ‘Hey, we can do it when we play our game and play confident.’ ”
Max Kruszeski added three goals as Gregg Hauser and Ryan Herman contributed two apiece.
“I’m just beyond proud of the boys,” Amato said.
For the ninth time this season, the Tuckers kept the opposition under double figures in goals, playing alert defense. Jake Dominy and Peterson intercepted Kingsmen passes in front of the net and cleared the ball quickly.
“It’s great when we keep them down in points,” Peterson said. “There’s a lot of the little things that we need to do right and today we were just on all cylinders.”
That included goaltender Shaun Howell, who made several vital saves to hold off Kings Park.
“He always plays big,” Amato said. “Shaun never gets too excited, never gets too down on himself. He stays even keel and he just plays his game. He’s rock solid for us.”
Hauser scored 56 seconds into the match and Schmidt added his first goal with five minutes and 25 seconds left in the first quarter for a 2-0 advantage.
“We came out of the gates and we just knocked them on their heels,” Peterson said. “We took it from there.”
Mattituck enjoyed a 4-0 lead before the Kingsmen scored in the second quarter.
“We just had to find the right looks, not force any goals,” Schmidt said. “We kept it under control.”
Actually, the final score wasn’t indicative of the game as Kings Park scored three goals in the final 68 seconds.
The Tuckers finish the regular season at Port Jefferson Wednesday and at home against Bellport May 11. Then they must wait 18 days for the Class D championship game on May 29. There are only three Suffolk schools in that classification — Babylon and Port Jefferson along with Mattituck. The Tuckers most likely will play Babylon.
Amato’s challenge is keeping the team focused during the long layoff.
“We’re going to do a lot of team bonding,” he said. “We want to go fishing, do a golf outing with the boys. We just want to keep it light, and not try to overdo it with practices and stuff. So, it’s keeping them distracted.
“When I played in college, we had a similar situation. I remember our college coach worked us really hard and what’s he doing? It’s playoffs. But it ended up paying off because the legs were there. That might be something we look into. I am trying to schedule scrimmages.”
Given the way Mattituck has performed, you must wonder if there will be any takers.