It’s the nature of this strange, pandemic-cursed year of 2020 that oddities arise, such as high school athletes with little or no varsity game-playing experience signing national letters of intent for college.
The COVID-19 threat wiped out the 2019 season for the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team and endangers what would be a condensed 2021 season. That explains why Rylie Rittberg and Abigail Seifert have one game of varsity experience between them. Should there be a season in 2021, the two Mattituck seniors will undoubtedly play prominent roles.
Either way, they both have college lacrosse in their future, and that was a cause of celebration Thursday when they put pen to paper, signifying their college choices in a ceremony at Mattituck High School. Rittberg, a goalie, signed with Florida Southern and Seifert, an attack, inked with Bloomsburg University (Pa.). They’re both NCAA Division II schools.
“It was an amazing experience,” Rittberg said. “It was something that me and Abby have worked for and forever looked forward to. It’s good to know that my work has paid off in the classroom and on the field.”
Rittberg, who had also considered Colorado Mesa University, said Florida Southern had “the perfect balance between the athletics and the academics for me. I stepped foot on the campus and instantly fell in love with it. It was perfect.”
Seifert said she was looking for a good nursing program and found one at Bloomsburg, which also happens to be the same college her father, John, attended. “It just seemed like a perfect fit/balance,” she said. West Chester University (Pa.) was also considered.
Mattituck won the last two New York State Class D championships in 2017 and 2018. Rittberg and Seifert were both brought up to the varsity team for the Tuckers’ trip to SUNY/Cortland for the state final four in 2018.
Rittberg, who has one varsity game under her belt, often practiced with the varsity team.
“Rylie’s someone that I’ve worked with from a young age, and she’s someone that I physically saw improve,” said Matt Maloney, who earlier this year announced he will not return as the team’s coach. “I know as a coach you talk about everyone trying to improve, but a goalie is easier to pinpoint if they’re improving or not. They’re able to impact the game with saving the ball and clearing the ball. But she’s someone that, again, if she wasn’t understanding how she can get better, she was always asking questions. That’s what I feel like is another great attribute to have for a high school kid, not to just go with the flow. She kind of demanded from herself that she wanted to get better and improve in her craft.”
Maloney said Seifert is “somebody who just loves being around the game. She just loved being at the next level and trying to elevate her game to prepare herself for varsity and the college level. She’s someone who I recognize is a true lacrosse junkie.”
Rittberg and Seifert will become the 16th and 17th Tuckers to play college lacrosse.
Maloney said, “I look forward to seeing them continue on this path of Mattituck players representing the small little town at the college level.”