Editorial: Adapting field for lacrosse would be wise move

On the turf field at the SUNY/Cortland Stadium Complex in early June, the Mattituck-Southold girls lacrosse team won its second straight New York State championship. The resounding triumph from the small North Fork schools reinforced just how much the sport has grown in the last decade.

As recently as 2012, there was talk of the girls team — still in its infancy at that time — moving into a developmental league. Now, the girls are cramming the trophy case at Mattituck High School with plaque after plaque.

The boys side has grown as well. The combined Mattituck-Southold team finished one win shy of the state championship game this past spring. Last December, Max Kruszeski became the first Southold boy to sign to play Division I lacrosse. He’ll attend Marquette University in the fall.

So it should come as no surprise that the Southold Town Board held discussions recently about updating the field at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic to make it more accessible to lacrosse players. Board members shouldn’t overthink this one. Setting up the field for lacrosse is a wise move.

The recent discussion centered on whether a lacrosse field fits in the space, the possibility of off-target balls interfering with others using the park and whether the goalposts currently set up for football would need to be removed.

None of those concerns would be problematic in converting the space for lacrosse.

This isn’t like converting a football field into a hockey rink.

As it’s currently situated, the field can snugly fit a standard high school lacrosse field. It may not be a space to host big tournaments for high school players, but that’s not that point. The idea is to create another space for youth lacrosse players, the young kids just getting a feel for the game. It doesn’t need to be a spot to one day host high school championship games.

Converting the current space doesn’t require much beyond painting new lines. It’s not that big a commitment.

Department of public works director Jeff Standish said at Tuesday’s work session that there hasn’t been any immediate feedback from teams using the field now. That’s largely because youth teams are already locked into their summer schedules elsewhere. But when the field is available, demand will likely grow.

Concern about wayward balls could be addressed with netting around the end lines, as is common at many high school turf fields.

“The goal is to get young people to play,” Councilman Bill Ruland said Tuesday.

Cochran Park is already a beautiful space for recreation, with a baseball diamond that serves as home to the North Fork Ospreys of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, basketball, tennis and pickleball courts and a hockey rink.

Sprucing up the rectangular field to benefit youth lacrosse players would be a welcome addition.

Photo caption: The field at Cochran Park. (Credit: Erika Peters)