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Girls Lacrosse Preview: State champs still strong

So much looks the same on paper with 17 returning players from last year’s state championship team, including 10 with experience as starters. And yet, coach Matt Maloney sees how things will change for his Mattituck/Southold high school girls lacrosse team.

“Even though we have so many [veteran] players, it will be a different dynamic and a different identity,” he said, referring to players taking on more prominent roles this year.

Mattituck (15-5) romped to its first state title last year with a 12-1 defeat of Bronxville in the Class D final. What’s the carryover affect?

“I think it continues to raise the expectation for our program, not to just win games but to consistently perform at a high level,” said Maloney, who in his fifth year coaching the team has his largest collection of seniors with 10.

Every team member has at least one varsity season under her belt. Most have three seasons and have been to two state final fours.

The talent available to Mattituck is reflected by its No. 7 seed in Suffolk County Division II. Eastport-Southold is No. 1, with Mount Sinai a close No. 2. Mattituck has made it into the playoffs the past five years and looks to be a sure bet to make it six straight years in the postseason.

Sisters Riley and Mackenzie Hoeg are primed for another big season as the program heads into its ninth year. Riley Hoeg, a four-time All-County player who can play attack or midfield, rang up 40 goals and 40 assists last year as a junior. Junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg, a three-time All-County player and final four MVP, was good for 52 goals and 33 assists.

Senior attack Francesca Vasile-Cozzo (20 goals, 41 assists) was an All-League player and a Suffolk County Unsung Hero award winner.

But there’s plenty of more firepower in the form of senior attackers Julie Seifert (23 goals, nine assists) and Rachel Janis, senior defenders Lauren Zuhoski (24 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers) and Sarah Bihm, senior goalie Claudia Hoeg, and junior midfielders Kaitlin Tobin and Charlotte Keil.

Maloney is looking for big things from midfielder Maddie Schmidt and defenders Payton Maddaloni and Emily McKillop. Utility players Maggie Bruer and Halle Foster can use their athleticism all over the field. Lauren Bihm and Lily Russell add depth to the attack.

What the Tuckers lost to graduation were two midfielders, three defenders and a goalie.

“What we do have this year is a nice amount of depth,” Maloney said. “… We have a lot of versatility. We have a lot of players who can play defense and attack.”

Maloney said he likes it that “the group has been together and they are a group that is always together on and off the field. They do a lot of things off the field, so the family feel is there. And the other thing I love about them is their level of dedication to each other.”

He continued: “The challenge is right in front of us, and we know that we have to continue to get better and learn from our mistakes and our successes. The seniors are going to try to leave their stamp on the program.”

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Photo caption: Riley Hoeg, a four-time All-County player, produced 40 goals and 40 assists last year for state Class D champion Mattituck/Southold. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)