Matt Maloney is going out on top. Or, at least Maloney is leaving Mattituck/Southold on top.
After guiding the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team to back-to-back state championships, Maloney is stepping down as the Tuckers’ coach, citing time demands.
“Maybe not being able to dedicate as much time as I have in the past helped me make that decision,” Maloney, who lives in Rocky Point, told The Suffolk Times in a phone interview. “I put in a lot of time in the offseason doing tournaments and winter workouts and stuff like that. You know, it’s a lot not really living in the area, so I think that it was kind of time to step away.”
Maloney, a physical education teacher in East Quogue, said the fact that he doesn’t work in the Mattituck High School building also factored into his decision.
In 2015, Maloney took charge of a team in its fifth year that was progressing, yet still enduring growing pains. The Tuckers were seeded 14th among 24 teams in Suffolk County Division II that preseason. (Mattituck won eight games through its first four years, according to laxpower.com.) Now he leaves a program that has skyrocketed and made a name for itself following successive New York State Class D championships in 2018 and 2019 and three straight state final-four appearances.
Under Maloney, Mattituck finished with winning records and reached the playoffs in each of five seasons (the 2020 season this past spring was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic). Maloney’s record with the Tuckers was 67-26. Fifteen of his former Mattituck players graduated to college lacrosse.
Maloney was the Newsday’s Coach of the Year for Suffolk in 2018 and the Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association Coach of the Year for 2019.
“I was proud every day that we went out and competed in practices and games, how they were able to execute against maybe higher ranked teams than we were and upset teams here and there,” he said.
Mattituck reached Suffolk Class C semifinals his first two years with the team, but better things were yet to come. In 2017 the Tuckers were state Class D semifinalists, suffering a 13-7 loss to Bronxville at SUNY/Cortland. That experience helped them return to Cortland the next two years and claim state championships with 12-1 and 11-7 victories over — there’s that team again — Bronxville.
“The back-to-backs were incredible,” Maloney said. “That’s a tough thing to do two times in a row.”
Maloney said he saw the team make “some great leaps forward. I could give some structure and I could give some motivation, but this was a seed that was planted years ago, and it comes back to the families and the support of the administration and athletic director and giving the program what it needs to blossom.”
Maloney noted that a lot of time and effort by players, parents and school administrators as well as himself went into building a championship team. “It is truly everybody,” he said. “It’s the parents buying into the Sunday practices and driving the kids there and picking them up. It’s the kids dedicating [themselves] to being there every day.”
Mattituck athletic director Gregg Wormuth credited youth organizations with preparing players for the high school team, but also noted that winning teams aren’t created solely in season. He said Maloney provided the consistency the program needed.
“One thing that stands out about Matt Maloney was there was no such thing as an offseason,” Wormuth said. “He worked year-round with those girls. I think our girls benefited from that. Our talent pool, we had a tremendous talent pool, but that just doesn’t come naturally.”
Prior to his arrival at Mattituck, Maloney had coached East Hampton/Pierson for six years and had also served as an assistant coach at William Floyd and Rocky Point. It doesn’t sound as if his coaching days are over, either. He indicated he might be interested in a position as an assistant coach, which wouldn’t require as much of a time commitment. “That is something that might suit me for a little bit,” he said. “I do love it. I love coaching. I love seeing the kids progress and get better and do good things.”
As for whoever Maloney’s successor may be, Wormuth said: “We got some good candidates inside [the program]. I think there’s some strong girls lacrosse knowledge in our program currently to keep the ball rolling.”
Maloney said the future looks good for Mattituck.
“I think there’s still a lot of dedicated kids, a lot of dedicated families, kids that want to move on and play teams on this level, kids that are willing to put in the time, and I think that they’ll give them, hopefully, the same time that they’ve given me to the new coaches,” he said. “It’s still on the upswing, I think.”