Patience is not only a virtue, but to play winning lacrosse, it just may be a necessity.
Both coaches clearly understood that, spending a good deal of their time on the sideline Saturday morning, reminding their players to remain patient when they had the ball. Mount Sinai’s Al Bertolone repeatedly yelled out the “p” word. “Patience! Patience!” he implored. “Stay patient!”
Mattituck/Southold’s Matt Maloney preached patience as well in the regular-season finale for both girls teams.
Patience brought the contest to sudden-victory overtime, which Mount Sinai won. Mattituck never had possession of the ball in overtime. Morgan Mitchell won the draw that opened the extra session and assisted on Gabriella Sartori’s second goal of the Suffolk County Division II game 1 minute, 57 seconds into extra time for a 9-8 triumph the rain in Cutchogue.
It was a compelling matchup that saw Mattituck recover from a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals (three by Chelsea Marlborough) and then twice fall behind by two goals in the second half before forcing overtime.
“It was crazy, just going back and forth,” said Mattituck defender Ashley Burns.
Mitchell collected five assists. One of them came on Meaghan Scutaro’s third goal on a man-up situation for a 7-5 lead with 4:02 left to play.
Jane DiGregorio (two goals, one assist) struck back for Mattituck, but Mount Sinai won the ensuing draw that led to Meaghan Tyrrell weaving her way through for an 8-6 lead with 2:24 to go.
It didn’t look good for Mattituck. Comebacks are tough enough as it is, never mind against Mount Sinai (15-1, 13-1), which won the last three state Class C championships and four in five years. Thirteen players on the Mount Sinai roster have at least verbally committed to playing for colleges. Mount Sinai, like Class D Mattituck, is ranked No. 1 in its class in the state by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
“Mount Sinai is one of the best in the nation and I think we showed that we can play with them,” Marlborough said. “If anyone wanted to see good lacrosse, this was the game to see.”
Riley Hoeg (two goals, two assists) came to the rescue for the Tuckers (11-5, 9-5). She netted an unassisted goal with 1:21 remaining. Then, after Marlborough sent a free-position shot off the pipe, Hoeg converted a feed from her sister, Mackenzie Hoeg, with 4.5 seconds left.
Mount Sinai then secured its eighth straight win in overtime. The Mustangs’ only loss this year was by an 8-7 score to Bayport-Blue Point.
Camryn Harloff had three goals for Mount Sinai, giving her 51 goals to go with 12 assists on the season. Jennifer Markey added two goals and one assist.
Mount Sinai held modest advantages in shots, 15-11; draw control, 10-7; and ground balls, 10-7.
Mattituck had won six of its previous seven games.
In a game like this, where every possession is important, a premium is placed on patience.
“Patience is key,” said Riley Hoeg, who has 44 goals and 27 assists this year. “You can’t really be nervous and you don’t want to force the ball and then turn it over. Then it’s a whole different momentum.”
Marlborough, a six-year varsity player who has spent one-third of her life on the team, said: “Patience is reflective of valuing the ball and knowing what just happened in the game. It’s using your lacrosse IQ. With patience comes great opportunity, which we saw many times in this game.”
“We’re patient, but also precise, I would say,” she continued. “We’ve finally started coming together with picking when we want to attack, when we want to drive, just picking the right opportunity.”
One thing Mattituck may not be patient about is the upcoming postseason. Last year the Tuckers reached the state semifinals for the first time, and they want another shot at a state title.
“When it comes to some things we’re patient,” Burns said, “but I know we all want to play in the playoff game, so we’re not that patient about that.”
Photo caption: Kaitlin Tobin is cheered by her Mattituck/Southold teammates during the stick check before Saturday morning’s game against Mount Sinai. (Credit: Bob Liepa)