Girls Lacrosse: Seifert steals game for Tuckers in OT

The start to Mattituck/Southold’s girls lacrosse season had a strange ending. Not that the Tuckers were complaining.

Defending New York State Class D champion Mattituck led by as many as three goals Friday, fell behind after three straight Shoreham-Wading River goals and forced overtime. It was then when an odd occurrence settled the outcome of the Suffolk County Division II game.

Mattituck’s Julie Seifert shot into an unguarded goal after dislodging the ball out of SWR goalie Sarah Sheridan’s stick pocket 1 minute, 40 seconds into overtime for a season-opening 8-7 sudden victory at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.

Mattituck’s Francesca Vasile-Cozzo and SWR’s Brooke Langella both were assessed two-minute penalties at different times late in the fourth quarter that carried over into overtime.

Isabella Meli won the draw for SWR at the start of OT, but the Wildcats lost possession on an offside call. Sheridan did well to stop a shot by Maddie Schmidt off a feed from Riley Hoeg for her 10th save of the game.

Vasile-Cozzo returned to the field at 1:22 after serving her penalty, giving Mattituck a man-up advantage. Seifert smothered Sheridan as the goalie casually walked the ball forward, well out of her net. Seifert delivered a stick check that brought her the prize she was looking for. The ball popped loose. Seifert retrieved it, looked up and saw an open goal about a distance of between 12 and 15 meters away.

“I felt good but a little nervous,” Seifert said. “I said, ‘I better make this.’ ”

She did, and with it, Mattituck had its first ever win over SWR in what Tuckers coach Matt Maloney believes was the seventh career meeting between the teams.

“I definitely feel for [Sheridan] a little bit, but at that point where we made so many mistakes, it was just try to get the ball any way you can and we saw an opportunity there,” Maloney said. “Shoreham’s a storied program, winning numerous state championships over the years. For us, it’s a huge team win.”

Asked if she had ever seen a game end like that, Mattituck midfielder/attack Mackenzie Hoeg (four goals, eight ground balls) answered: “Honestly, no, I don’t think I have. It was a great job by Julie to realize that we were man up for a couple of seconds there for her to go and pressure the goalie. We were blocking off the Shoreham people pretty well, and I think that it definitely made it a hard lane for the goalie to throw it to.”

Langella’s penalty time became complete at the time of the game-winning goal.

Confusion cost the Wildcats (1-1, 0-1) at that critical juncture.

“At that point, I think a lot of us were kind of looking for some sort of direction, so I definitely feel like I could put some of that blame on myself,” SWR coach Brittany Davis said. “That could have been an optimal time to call a timeout and really just get everyone on the same page.”

Asked if her players took the loss hard, Davis said, “Emotions are high for all of them and I don’t think a lot of these kids have ever, ever, ever really been in these huge moments.”

SWR took its only lead of the day on three straight second-half goals by the Meli sisters. Isabella Meli, Gabby Meli and then Gabby Meli again struck within a span of 1:21 for a 7-6 edge with 11:15 left in the second half.

“She’s one of those kids that is an excellent player,” Davis said of Gabby Meli, who also assisted on one of Jenna Lesiwicz’s two goals. “She’s crafty, she’s quick and, you know, people don’t really know too much about her because we’ve had a lot of people on the offensive end who are a powerhouse. So, these other kids who are really good, they’re just waiting their turn and they’re hungry.”

Down a goal, Mattituck faced adversity in the face. Schmidt scored her second goal of the game off Riley Hoeg’s fourth assist to knot the score with 4:40 to go in regulation time. Schmidt was denied a hat trick by Sheridan with 10 seconds left in regulation.

Mattituck received a goal from Kaitlin Tobin.

Amanda Padrazo and Hayden Lachenmeyer scored for SWR.

Said Maloney, “It was a bad start for us, but it was a great finish, obviously.”

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Photo caption: Mattituck/Southold’s Julie Seifert pressures Shoreham-Wading River goalie Sarah Sheridan before forcing the turnover that led to Seifert’s winning goal 1 minute, 40 seconds into overtime. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)