Been there, done that.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it?
It was anything but for the Mattituck/Southold high school girls lacrosse team on Friday morning.
Mattituck earned the right to defend its New York State Class D title. The Tuckers secured a place in their second straight state final by beating Palmyra-Macedon, 9-5, in a semifinal at SUNY/Cortland, the site of their 2018 glory.
“It’s so exciting,” Mattituck attack Julie Seifert said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Maybe a title.”
That’s a definite possibility.
After winning its first state crown last year, Mattituck could make it two in a row Saturday morning when it will face a familiar foe. Bronxville, beaten by Mattituck in last year’s state final after knocking the Tuckers out of the state semis in 2017, will be the opponent. Bronxville won its semifinal, 15-11, over Skaneateles.
Defending a state championship is good motivation. “We’re trying to live up to that title,” said midfielder Maddie Schmidt.
Being a senior adds even more motivation. Schmidt should know. She’s one of Mattituck’s 11 seniors.
“It’s a big group,” she said. “We really wanted it for each other. It’s the last time playing together and I know that tomorrow it will be an emotional day, either way, and I know we’re going to use that to our advantage and play with all of our heart.”
The Tuckers (14-5) showed heart. They never trailed against Palmyra-Macedon (16-5), but also never led by more than two goals in the first half (at 3-1).
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Mattituck coach Matt Maloney said. “In the beginning of the season, maybe there was a little uncertainty. We knew it would be a tough road, regardless, but we worked tirelessly to get back and in some areas be better than we were last year. Today’s a nice feeling for the girls in the sense that we battled. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t an easy game.”
After Palmyra-Macedon’s Jamie Walker tied the score at 4-4 with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half, Francesca Vasile-Cozzo (one goal, one assist) scored off a feed from Seifert to give Mattituck a 5-4 edge with 46 seconds left in the half. That goal, and the first four of the second half by Mackenzie Hoeg (her second of the game to go with an assist), two by Riley Hoeg and another by Rachel Janis, stretched the Mattituck lead to 9-4 with 6:39 remaining. (Riley Hoeg had also assisted on first-half goals by Schmidt and Mackenzie Hoeg, her sister.)
“I think the biggest thing is that we all just huddled up [at halftime] and we made it our mission to make that not the last 25 minutes that we’re ever going to be together,” said Seifert.
Kaitlin Tobin also scored for Mattituck. Goalie Claudia Hoeg, well-protected by the Mattituck defense, had two saves.
Palmyra-Macedon, ousted in the state semifinals for a third straight year, received two goals from Andra Savage. Emma Arnold and Walker added a goal and an assist each, with Grace Seither also scoring for the Red Raiders. Heather Walker stopped six Mattituck shots.
“This year we were so determined to just not let up,” Mattituck defender Emily McKillop said. “I think we played with so much heart today and I just think our team the whole year has had our mind on the bigger picture and it’s right there, and I think we’re so hungry for it.”
Maloney said the work Mackenzie Hoeg and Lauren Zuhoski did in dispossessing Palmyra-Macedon players of the ball was “phenomenal.” He said: “A couple of times, we didn’t have the ball, but we wound up not having to play defense. I think that’s huge in this game where every little thing could be a foul.”
Mattituck also withstood three yellow cards, two shown to Janis and Vasile-Cozzo in the first half and one to Zuhoski in the second.
Last year’s state championship made an impact on the Tuckers. Seifert recalled: “The second the season last year ended, Coach Matt said right as we were getting off the field, ‘Just defend what’s ours.’ That’s the mentality we had.”
Schmidt said that what the Tuckers accomplished last year “really ignited a fire within us and we really wanted to feel that feeling again and I think that’s what pushed us the entire season, and we’ve just been working really hard to get back here and now that we’re here, we want to finish the job.”
Another “been there, done that” on Saturday would suit the Tuckers just fine.
Top photo credit: The Tuckers celebrate a goal. (Credit: Bob Liepa)
View this post on Instagram