This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end for the Mattituck/Southold/Greenport girls lacrosse team.
Not with a 14-3 loss to Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Class D championship game and with star attacker and senior co-captain Ella Suglia sitting on the bench nursing a knee injury.
“A lot of emotions are running through me right now,” said Suglia, who left Motamed Field at Adelphi University on Sunday afternoon on crutches. “[I’m] kind of in shock.”
So were her teammates, who thought they would be able to keep us with the Seahawks (13-5), who captured their fifth consecutive Long Island title.
“I honestly think we did not play like what we were expected to,” said senior co-captain Sage Foster, who had a goal and an assist. “We started off really slow. We did have some good things towards the end but it kind of [stinks] that we didn’t start off the way that we ended.”
The postseason for both Tuckers’ lacrosse programs had an unusual symmetry this year. The boys and girls teams defeated their respective Babylon H.S. opponents to win Suffolk County crowns before losing to Cold Spring Harbor foes in the LI championship.
Most championship caliber high school teams are laden with seniors. The Seahawks (13-5) had only two 12th graders among their starters, plus three juniors and seven sophomores. Sophomores Ryan Reynolds scored six goals, followed by Maggie Spher with four goals and two assists. Junior Amelia Bentley added two goals. Sophomore Kelly Callaghan and senior Hannah Van Son had one apiece against junior goalie Aiko Fujita.
“I really don’t think that they should be in class D, but they’re pretty good for only being, like, ninth and 10th graders,” Foster said.
The Seahawks compete in Class D due to the size of its school population.
MSG freshman Gianna Calise won three of the opening four face-offs against Reynolds, but CSH surged to a 4-0 lead only three minutes and 18 seconds into the match.
By the time Foster scored MSG’s first goal, off a Calise assist, with 5:40 remaining in the first half, CSH had jumped out to a 9-0 advantage. Sofia Knudsen’s fine run down the right flank set up the first goal, and Suglia also found the net for MSG.
“I think our energy was a bit off,” Suglia said.
Suglia’s injury did not affect the outcome of the game. She ended her high school career on her final and team-leading 35th goal of the season, beating goaltender Maya Soskin from the right side, 3:38 into the second half when she was hit by a CSH player on her left knee.
“I got the ball from Sophia and saw an opportunity to take that shot,” she said. “When I was taking it, someone pushed me from behind. Something in my knee popped. The goalie said great shot. That’s all I remember.”
Suglia fell to the ground and time was called as school athletic trainer Ray Ellis attended to her injury. She was helped off the field by assistant coach Caitlin Appel and Ellis to the bench. Suglia watched the rest of the game with tears in her eyes.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” head coach Logan McGinn said. “She had back surgery in the offseason. She’s one of the hardest workers to get back into shape. It just [is a shame] to see her season and now go back into the recovery process to get ready to play in D-I college.”
Suglia will attend the University of North Carolina-Charlotte this fall.
McGinn said Suglia’s influence on the team was “almost indescribable.”
“She’s one of the focal points of the rebuilding process,” he added. “When I took over a team three years ago, we talked about creating a new standard and making it ours and she has just been that standard.”
Beyond the talent and grittiness, senior co-captain Brynn Gardner said that one of MSG’s keys to success this season was its “family atmosphere.“
“I don’t think there’s another team that’s like it,” she said.
“It actually makes you upset because you enjoy going to practice with this team,” he said. “Now that it’s over, it does kind of stink. They are a great group of girls. I think they miss practices the most; memories that have been made for a lifetime. Just laughing and joking around. Hopefully, it’s something we can emulate.”
With a promising set of freshmen who contributed this season, the next stage of the rebuilding process can’t come soon enough.