Riley and Mackenzie Hoeg are sisters, not twins, but it seems as if they have twin telepathy when they’re on the lacrosse field together. Of course, that’s because they have played together virtually continuously for the past 13 years.
Next year will see a break in that, however, when Riley moves on to play college lacrosse for Virginia, leaving Mackenzie to play her senior season for Mattituck/Southold’s high school team.
Mackenzie said, “It’s definitely sad because next year I won’t be playing with her, but I think that … it will be nice for us to grow individually as well.”
Then again, the separation will only be temporary. The two will be reunited again in 2020 when Mackenzie joins Riley at Virginia.
That’s good news for the Cavaliers. The Hoeg sisters have shown what they can do together. Last year they were key pieces to Class D Mattituck’s first state championship team.
“We’re making the most of this year,” said Riley.
Riley and Mackenzie can both play attack or middie, although their individual games are different. “Normally Riley’s more of a feeder and I’m more of a cutter, which kind of works out,” said Mackenzie.
And they have a way of finding each other on the field.
“Usually when I have the ball, I’m always looking for her, and when she has it, she’s always looking for me,” Riley said. “It’s just like a good connection.”
In Mattituck’s 10-9 loss to Westhampton Beach Wednesday in Cutchogue, Riley scored a first-half goal off an assist from Mackenzie before returning the favor for Mackenzie’s goal — the final one of the Suffolk County Division II game — with 65 seconds left to play.
Hoeg to Hoeg has been a winning combination for the Tuckers, even going back to when their older sister, Katie, wore Mattituck blue and gold before playing for North Carolina.
Mattituck has more Hoegs, too. Their cousin, senior Claudia Hoeg, is the team’s starting goalie and their father, James, is the assistant coach.
All those Hoegs aside, Westhampton (7-3, 5-3) held on for the win. The Hurricanes, who lost to Mount Sinai in last year’s Suffolk Class C final, scored the game’s first three goals — two by Hollie Schleicher and one by Belle Smith — before Mattituck (5-3, 5-3) had its first possession.
A free-position shot by Julie Seifert then put Mattituck on the scoreboard and the teams were never separated by more than two goals the rest of the way. Mattituck tied the score twice at 5-5 and 8-8, but never took the lead.
“We gave ourselves chances, and I was pretty proud of that,” coach Matt Maloney said. “This was a really nice test for us. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
After Francesca Vasile-Cozzo evened things at 8 for Mattituck with 22:12 left in the second half, Westhampton replied with Smith’s goal from a free-position shot and Schleicher’s fourth goal of the day and 31st of the season for a 10-8 edge.
Casey Gallagher, a halftime replacement in the Westhampton goal for Taylor Gallarello, protected that two-goal lead by making a point-blank save on Maddie Schmidt with a little over two minutes to go. Gallagher stopped five of the eight shots she faced.
Smith, Westhampton’s first All-American and a Boston College commit, had two goals and two assists. Maureen Duffy also scored twice.
Meanwhile, the Hoeg sisters did their thing. Mackenzie scored three goals and assisted on another. Riley bagged two goals and two assists. Seifert scored twice and Vasile-Cozzo added a goal and two assists. Schmidt also had a goal.
Riley handled all but one of the draws (Mackenzie worked the other) and Mattituck controlled 13 of the 22 draws.
Maloney said Payton Maddaloni, Lauren Zuhoski, Sarah Bihm and Maggie Bruer have stepped up on defense. Schmidt and Kaitlin Tobin were both active in midfield.
Maloney has been appreciative of what the Hoeg sisters have done for the team, describing them as exemplary players.
“They have really been leaders of the program, never miss a practice, never complain, are really involved in the game plan,” he said. “I’ve always felt like they have a connection and we can get opportunities without calling a play.
“The great thing, honestly, about both of them, is that they are very unselfish players. To them it doesn’t matter if they lead the stat category or if they set somebody else up.”
Next year that Hoeg connection will be lost as the sisters part ways.
“It’s going to be different,” Maloney said, “definitely different for both of them.”
Photo caption: Mattituck/Southold’s Riley Hoeg scoops up the ball while under pressure from Westhampton Beach’s Belle Smith while Mackenzie Hoeg watches. (Credit: Bob Liepa)