Seven Mattituck High School senior athletes put pen to paper on national signing day, securing their collegiate futures. In addition to scratching their signatures, they might as well have also written glowingly about the state of lacrosse on the North Fork.
All seven athletes, as it turned out, are lacrosse players, five of whom have NCAA Division I teams in their future.
Seated at a long table Wednesday, with balloons matching the colors of their chosen colleges hanging behind them in the high school lobby, the seven are testimony to the health and growth of the Mattituck/Southold boys and girls lacrosse teams.
Four members of the two-time defending state Class D champion girls team inked their names with Division I teams: defender Maggie Bruer (Sacred Heart), attack/midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg (Virginia), defender Payton Maddaloni (New Hampshire) and midfielder Kaitlin Tobin (UMass Lowell).
On the boys side, midfielder/attack Dane Reda will remain on Long Island with Division I Stony Brook while attack Ethan Schmidt (Wingate University) and defender Colby Suglia (Queens University of Charlotte) will both play for Division II North Carolina schools that face each other in the South Atlantic Conference.
It’s really quite a haul for a school of Mattituck’s modest size.
“It’s definitely a little eye-opening,” Reda said. “I remember early on playing club lacrosse, my grandpa kept telling me, ‘You should just focus on school, you’re not going to be able to play college lacrosse. It’s such a small town, blah, blah, blah. But I mean, seven of us definitely proved him wrong there.”
Suglia said, “It shows that even though we’re a little school, we definitely have some caliber.”
Gregg Wormuth has seen the rise of the program in his 11 years as Mattituck’s athletic director. He said, “When you think back to where we came from to where we are right now — the team accolades, county championships on both the boys and girls sides, Long Island championships on both the boys and girls sides and then the two girls lacrosse state championships back-to-back — I think what has happened now is that everyone in the county knows who Mattituck/Southold/Greenport lacrosse is, and whether it’s the girls team or the boys team, we are a team on both sides, the boys and the girls, that nobody looks at on their schedule as a walk in the park any more.”
Matt Maloney, who coaches the girls team, can attest that Mattituck has built a name for itself in lacrosse. “It’s kind of transpired throughout the island that Mattituck is not just another school out there,” he said. “They’re one of the toughest games that you’re going to get on your schedule, and that’s not just because these girls are going to college, it’s the work behind the scenes that they put in to train and dedicate themselves to the sport.”
That dedication will carry over to the college level for these seven players, who were joined by friends and family members for the festive occasion.
For the Hoegs, lacrosse is a family affair. At Virginia, Mackenzie Hoeg will join her older sister, Riley. The oldest of the three Hoeg sisters, Katie, plays for North Carolina. Their father, James, is an assistant coach for the Tuckers and their mother, Karen, is the team’s scorekeeper.
Mackenzie Hoeg, a U.S. Lacrosse All-American and The Suffolk Times’ Mattituck Female Athletic of the Year for 2018-19 as well as a three-time All-County player, reached her 200th career goal and 300th career point last season. It was a season that saw her put up 54 goals, 38 assists, 43 ground balls, 88 draw controls and 22 caused turnovers.
Hoeg was attracted to Virginia by the school’s academic reputation. She made multiple visits to the campus before she committed. “Every time I visited, I loved it more and more every time,” she said.
For Maddaloni (34 draw controls, 18 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers last year), her visit to New Hampshire came late in the process. “This kind of came out of the blue for me and for me this was the perfect fit,” she said. “I loved it there. I walked on campus. I was like, ‘This is where I want to be.’ ”
Reda had a culinary explanation for his decision to stay close to home. “I kept thinking about it and I realized that I love good food and it’s hard to get that when you’re at school, so I wanted to be close enough to home so that I could get a nice home-cooked meal,” he said.
Bruer (22 ground balls, 12 caused turnovers), who tore both her meniscus and ACL in her right knee while playing soccer this fall and moved about with the aid of crutches, said she had been looking forward to this day for a while. “I’ve been dreaming about it for so long,” she said. “I’ve seen so many other girls in grades above me sign and go off and really enjoy playing, and I’m just glad I get to continue my lacrosse career.”
Mattituck boys coach John Amato said: “It’s unbelievable to see all these athletes going to such good schools and lacrosse is giving them an opportunity, and it shows the dedication of the parents, the athletes, the coaches and the community. It’s awesome to see the growth.”
After the ceremony, Maddaloni was asked what the day had been like for her.
“The word is surreal,” she answered. “I mean, it’s cool that I’m finally able to say that I’m done … I don’t have to worry about [college] applications any more and all my SATs are done. It just means that I’m secure and it shows that I’m ready for college.”
Photo caption: Seven Mattituck senior lacrosse players took part in a ceremony on national signing day: from left, Kaitlin Tobin (UMass Lowell), Maggie Bruer (Sacred Heart), Colby Suglia (Queens University of Charlotte), Dane Reda (Stony Brook), Ethan Schmidt (Wingate University), Payton Maddaloni (New Hampshire) and Mackenzie Hoeg (Virginia). (Credit: Bob Liepa)