The repeat was sweet.
Perhaps doubly sweet for the Mattituck/Southold high school girls lacrosse team.
Almost a year to the day since Mattituck’s first state triumph on the same SUNY/Cortland field, the Tuckers did it again. They secured the New York State Class D championship Saturday with an 11-7 defeat of Bronxville.
“It feels really good this year to say that we’re a two-time state champion, and I think that’s insane to finish off our season this way,” said senior goalie Claudia Hoeg, who made seven saves and was credited with 407 for her four-year varsity career. “It’s really crazy.”
As it had in its two previous state final-four appearances, Mattituck (15-5) faced Bronxville (19-4). Bronxville beat Mattituck in the 2017 semifinals before the Tuckers got revenge with a 12-1 hammering of the Broncos in last year’s final.
In Saturday’s final, Mattituck made it look easier than some expected. The Tuckers never trailed and, after going in front, never even allowed Bronxville to tie the score.
“It’s awesome, awesome feeling,” said Mattituck coach Matt Maloney, who had a water bucket dumped over him, just as he did last year. “… In the beginning of the year there were some uncertainties [over whether] we would be able to get back and certainly if we could win again. There are some great Class D teams up here, I think. These kids really rose. They really rose to the level they needed to be at, to play at, limiting the turnovers and playing that stout defense.”
The “two-peat,” as Mattituck defender Lauren Zuhoski called it, was achieved with the aid of five straight Mattituck goals by junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg, who propelled the Tuckers to an 8-3 lead with 13 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second half. The Tuckers also received a major boost from senior attack Francesca Vasile-Cozzo, who had five assists in her final high school game.
Mackenzie Hoeg and Vasile-Cozzo were beneficiaries of the attention Bronxville paid to Riley Hoeg, who nonetheless still supplied one goal and three assists.
Kaitlin Tobin (two goals, one assist), Maddie Schmidt (two goals) and Halle Foster (one goal) also fueled Mattituck’s patient offense, supported by a clamp-down defense.
Bronxville can be a dangerous team, as it showed in overcoming an 8-2 deficit to topple Skaneateles, 15-11, in the semifinals Friday.
The Broncos lost the final despite winning 14 of 20 draws. Caroline Ircha (two goals, one assist, seven draw controls) and Isabel Sondey (one goal, five draw controls) were particularly effective. Bronxville also received two goals from Anneke Pulkkinen and single tallies by Kiki Tormey and Hanna Bishop.
In the end, though, Bronxville, a six-time state semifinalist that has never won a state title, had to settle for a runner-up trophy for a third straight year.
Next year will mark a major shift in Mattituck’s makeup, with 11 seniors moving on. Among them will be two Hoegs.
Mattituck once had as many as five Hoegs — all related — on the roster for a two-year period. Claudia Hoeg will join her older sister, Audrey, playing for William & Mary. Meanwhile, their cousins, sisters Mackenzie and Riley Hoeg, played their last high school game together. Riley Hoeg, a senior, will play for Virginia next year before Mackenzie joins her there a year later.
Mackenzie Hoeg will be the last of the Hoegs for Mattituck next year, no longer surrounded by cousins and sisters.
“It’s definitely very sad,” she said. “I know I’m going to miss all these seniors very much. All the juniors look up to the senior group and we’ll take everything that they did and hopefully we’ll be able to implement it into our game next year and take all the positive things they did and learn from them because they are a bunch of role models for us.”
Riley Hoeg, who assisted on three of her sister’s goals, said: “We’ve all been playing together since we were young. We all see each other as sisters and a second family. I think that really helped us out on the field and throughout the season.”
Some Mattituck tears were shed, but they were happy tears.
“Last year, you know, maybe some people thought maybe it was like a fluke because that was the first [state title] we had won and we had only been here one time before that but I think we really proved ourselves today,” Mackenzie Hoeg said. “Before the game we all said, ‘Don’t play for yourself, play for each other,’ because at the end of the day, the people you form these relationships with, that’s what’s important.”
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