Lacrosse is a game of runs, momentum shifts and swings. Friday’s game was swinging for a while in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s favor — until it wasn’t.
The pendulum ended up pointing in Harborfields’ direction when an entertaining, back-and-forth Suffolk County Division II game concluded, 7-6 over the visiting Tuckers at James T. Brennan Memorial Stadium. Mattituck fell into a 4-1 hole before reeling off five straight goals, only to see Harborfields fire in three unanswered fourth-quarter tallies by Luke DeRosa, Dylan Wolf and Hunter Droskoski.
“It started off slow, but once we started getting everything together, it started flowing and then we just kind of lost it in the fourth,” said Matt Seifert, who had a full game for Mattituck with two goals, two assists, six ground balls and an interception.
“We started off a little slow, far bus ride, I don’t know,” the senior midfielder continued. “But once we started, once we started clicking. Then, in the fourth quarter we just lost our steam.
“Yeah, we were on a roll for a little bit. The team just clicks, you know, and we looked great in the second and third quarters. The first and fourth, we just didn’t bring our ‘A’ game.”
Mattituck knows a thing or two about close contests. The Tuckers are 1-2 in one-goal games this season, having come off a thrilling 10-9 sudden-victory triumph at Elwood/John Glenn Wednesday, courtesy of Marc Zappulla’s game-winner.
Sometimes the lacrosse gods are with you, sometimes they are not.
“Today would have been good for power points, but we let it get away,” coach John Amato said after Friday’s loss.
“I love this team,” he said. “They’re just a great group of kids. They work extremely hard. They come to practice to learn, a very coachable group. And, you know, we’ve had ups and downs with them. Any losses had been really close games. I was happy about John Glenn because you put in all that work. To lose the close ones like today, it hurts.”
The start to the game didn’t hold much promise for Mattituck (5-5, 3-5). Harborfields (4-6, 3-5) bolted to a 4-1 first-quarter lead on strikes by DeRosa, Wolf, Brendan Hohner and Vinny Bolognino, the last two coming in man-up situations.
But Mattituck found its game and owned the second and third quarters, during which it went on a 5-0 burst. Zappulla scored all three of his goals during that stretch. Sean Lawson, a long-pole middie, and Seifert bagged the others.
Liam Buckley dropped off a pass for Seifert, who buried a shot from long distance, giving Mattituck its first lead at 5-4 with 7 minutes, 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
Buckley picked up his second assist 1:14 later, with precision passing that brought Mattituck a man-advantage goal by Zappulla for a 6-4 lead.
“When you change the tempo, it’s like a game of runs,” said Amato, whose team went 1-14 last year. “And when you’re hot, you got to stay hot and then if they go on a run, you got to kind of answer and respond.”
That pendulum swung back in Harborfields’ favor in the fourth quarter. DeRosa (two goals, four assists) scored off a feed from Wolf, then Wolfe found the net on a setup from Ethan Radecki, and Droskoski, following a lightning-quick exchange with Radecki, made it 7-6 with 5:36 left.
“We didn’t have the same energy that we had when we’re on the scoring run,” Seifert said. “I think that’s where we lost it.”
A Mattituck turnover with 1:01 remaining and a slashing penalty by the Tuckers with 38.3 seconds to go enabled Harborfields to run out the clock. DeRosa and Droskoski played keep-away as the final seconds ticked down.
“It was a tough loss because it’s so close,” said Zappulla.
Jake Starkey was a major asset for Harborfields, winning 14 of 16 faceoffs, scooping up 12 ground balls and getting an assist. Meanwhile, Mattituck was without its top faceoff man, Flynn Klipstein, who was in Houston at a robotics competition.
Franklin Mastrangelo made nine saves for Mattituck.
“Defensively, they played fantastic today,” Amato said. “Franklin played good in net, and that kind of countered their possession time and we had good offensive possessions, you know. We got good shots. We missed a few and I think that was probably the difference.”
Momentum is a fickle thing.