Regardless of what transpires the remainder of this high school girls lacrosse season, Mattituck/Southold will be the defending New York State Class D champion in 2022. That’s not a bold prediction, either. It’s a virtual guarantee, just another one of the oddities of the pandemic-affected sports world.
All of the state’s spring sports championships have been canceled this year. That means the Tuckers could go winless this season and still be the two-time defending state champions in 2022.
Coronavirus has done some funny things with the sports calendar and timelines. When the Tuckers walked onto their field in Cutchogue Tuesday, it was for their first game in 696 days.
That’s correct, 696! Their previous game was their defeat of Bronxville in the state final way back on June 8, 2019.
The 2020 season was lost to the pandemic. Much has changed over the past two years. Mattituck entered the new season with a new coach, a lot of new players and a new outlook. Tuesday’s result wasn’t typical of what the team had experienced during its three straight state final-four appearances from 2017-19.
“I’m going to say it was very shocking going into the season with that many changes, but I feel like our work ethic and everything is there,” said senior Abby Seifert.
What wasn’t there Tuesday was a win. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, Mattituck was shut out in the second half, outshot 20-9 and lost the Suffolk County Division II opener, 10-4, to Center Moriches in Logan McGinn’s debut as a varsity head coach.
It was Center Moriches’ second ever win over Mattituck (the first being a 9-8 triumph in 2010) and the Red Devils’ first career win in Cutchogue, according to Center Moriches assistant coach Jeff Mischler.
“I think nerves played a big role in our game today, just because it has been a long time since we played as a team together, all of us,” Mattituck senior Abby Rosato said. “I think there were a lot of nerves going into this game, a lot of spectators watching us.”
Given how much change has occurred, it’s unfair to compare the current Mattituck team to the 2019 edition. Of the 18 players listed on Mattituck’s roster, Rosato and Seifert are among seven who were brought up from the junior varsity team to join the big team for the 2019 state final four. The others are Julie Kosmynka, Sam McNamara, Lauren Onufrak, Hanna Prager and Rylie Rittberg. They all practiced and watched.
“That was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever gone through,” said Rosato.
McGinn takes over an “historic program” from Matt Maloney, who stepped away last year, citing time demands. The Tuckers went 67-26 and reached the playoffs in each of five seasons under Maloney.
Mattituck’s rich history is a source of pride to players such as Seifert. “I’m so proud to say I play lacrosse for Mattituck and I feel the name in itself definitely holds you [in] a higher regard.”
McGinn, who is assisted by Ashley Amato, said: “We know that the Mattituck logo is something heavy to carry with us but, you know, at the end of the day, it’s a new team, it’s a new era. So, we’re just kind of taking that approach, too, because not a lot of those girls were on that state championship team. So, you know, [they] kind of have a chip on their shoulder, looking for something to prove.”
Mattituck started the game well enough with goals by Seifert (assisted by Brynn Gardner) and Megan Tobin making it 2-0. Hayley Hermsdorf (five goals, one assist) and Isabella Raimondi (four goals, one assist) accounted for five straight Center Moriches goals after that before Sage Foster, set up by Ella Suglia, put one in for Mattituck. Hermsdorf pumped in two more goals before Suglia’s left-handed bouncer with five seconds left in the first half cut Center Moriches’ lead to 7-4.
Lauren Spivak aided Center Moriches with a goal and an assist in the second half.
“We played a little rough in the beginning,” Center Moriches coach Paul Raimondi said. “We played a little nervous, and then we settled into the game. And once we settled in, we played the game we wanted to play.”
Rittberg made nine saves for Mattituck while her counterpart, Caitlin Noack, had four stops.
“We went the whole half of the year thinking that nothing was going to happen,” McGinn said. “Now to be out here is pretty surreal, so we got to take in the moments because we’ve seen what COVID has done to some programs and, you know, not everything is guaranteed, so we’re kind of taking it and just really enjoying the moments.”