Sometimes it’s easy for a championship team to forget how difficult it was to become a championship team. That’s one reason why repeat titles aren’t easy to come by.
But Mattituck High School boys golf coach Paul Ellwood didn’t need to tell his players that — their winning tradition aside — they couldn’t take things for granted in 2018.
And they didn’t.
Mattituck went 10-0 to capture its fourth straight league championship, holding off second-place Riverhead (7-3), which it twice narrowly defeated by four strokes and five strokes in League VII play. It’s the longest league championship streak Mattituck has ever had, according to Ellwood.
“They were quite aware that Riverhead was going to be a challenge,” he said. “They knew what they had to do.”
The Tuckers went on to take second place (two strokes behind Westhampton Beach) in the Conference IV Tournament and seventh in the Section XI Championship last month. Both tournaments were played at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville.
Mattituck showed the sort of veteran maturity that could be expected of a team that returned its entire squad from last year. Regardless of the situation, the Tuckers seemed to keep an even-keeled approach.
“Most of my guys are the same,” Ellwood said. “You can’t tell if they’re going to have a good or bad day out there.”
Of course, most of them have been good. And that goes back for years.
Mattituck has built a 57-4 record over the past five years. Ellwood is 89-7-1 in his eight years as the team’s coach.
Chris Talbot was the only Mattituck player to make the cut for the second day of the two-day sectional tournament. The junior ended up 18th overall, earning him All-County honors. He shot an 81 and an 85 on the par-71 course.
“He’s a grinder,” Ellwood said. “He just sort of hangs around there, somehow around 40 and sneaks in there, makes a couple of putts, makes par saves from crazy places.”
Four Tuckers made All-League, including senior Matt Sledjeski. Sledjeski, the team’s No. 1 player this past season, had the lowest nine-hole average in League VII, a 36.50, to go with a 9-0-1 record. Mattituck’s other All-League performers were Talbot (38.37, 8-2), senior Ryan Seifert (39.50, 7-2-1) and his brother, freshman Matt Seifert (40.62, 9-1).
Ellwood said depth was a difference-maker for Mattituck. At various times, the bottom of the lineup was manned by junior Parker Sheppard, freshman Evan McCaffrey, sophomore Connor Fox or senior Chris Seijka.
Ellwood said, “I like the way the young kids came in and battled for the 5 and 6 spots.”
That wasn’t the only thing to like about the Tuckers this year.