06/03/15 12:00pm
06/03/2015 12:00 PM

Opening day is a special day in baseball. The pageantry, the anticipation and the high hopes teams take into the new season all contribute to a setting that is about as American as it gets. A clean slate is ready to be written on. The story it will tell is anyone’s guess.

The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League celebrated its third opening day with three games on Sunday, including a matchup between the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton. They were the first games in an expanded 42-game regular season for the seven-team league. (more…)

05/09/13 7:26pm
05/09/2013 7:26 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Connor Stumpf, far left, and Harborfields' John Malico, center, battle for a loose ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Connor Stumpf, far left, and Harborfields’ John Malico, center, battle for a loose ball.

TORNADOES 6, TUCKERS 3

They leave with no championships. They leave without having experienced a playoff game. They leave without having enjoyed a winning season. But that doesn’t mean the nine seniors on the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team bid adieu to their high school playing careers without having left an impact.

Should the Tuckers someday win a Suffolk County championship, they may look back to this group of seniors and say it started with them.

Some of the seniors played for the Tuckers’ first varsity team as freshmen. This year they were all part of the third varsity season (when they were sophomores, the Tuckers dropped the varsity team and played a junior varsity schedule). This is the year that may be referred to as the year when the Tuckers made a significant move toward becoming competitive.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold went 3-25 in its first two varsity seasons, but completed its 2013 season with a 6-10 record, 4-10 in Suffolk County Division II.

“I think the seniors, including me, just got tired of losing,” said senior defenseman Chris Baglivi.

This year was undoubtedly a step forward for the Tuckers, who defeated Brentwood, Hampton Bays (twice), Center Moriches, Deer Park and Bishop McGann-Mercy. Unquestionably, the Tuckers were the victims of some blowouts, too, but the progress was evident. The team’s rookie coach, Ryan Mahoney, was quick to credit the players and the coaches who ran the team before him.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jack DiGregorio, who took a game-high eight shots, scored one of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's goals against Harborfields.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jack DiGregorio, who took a game-high eight shots, scored one of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s goals against Harborfields.

“With the groundwork that the previous coaches laid, it helped me a lot, and we’re starting to turn it around,” he said. “It’s getting there.”

The Tuckers were hoping to send their seniors off with a win in their final high school game on Thursday, but it wasn’t to be. Harborfields scored the game’s first five goals on the way to a 6-3 win at Mattituck High School. Terrence Haggerty, a sophomore attackman, led five Harborfields scorers with two goals from seven shots and one assist. Troy Bocchicchio and Christopher Tirrito added a goal and an assist each for the Tornadoes (6-9, 6-7), who also received goals from Collin Maher and Ryan Vassar.

Koli Snodgrass (three saves) and Kyle Lumpe (seven saves) each played a half in goal for Harborfields. The Tornadoes held a 32-21 advantage in shots.

Mahoney started all of his seniors. In addition to Baglivi, Christian Davis, Casey Grathwohl, Kevin Izzo, Colin McCoy, Ben Pileski, Connor Stumpf, Nick Tesiny and Justin Tyler trotted onto the field wearing the Tuckers’ uniform for the last time.

“For myself it was definitely difficult,” Baglivi said. “It was definitely emotional. My head wasn’t where I wanted it to be because I was just thinking, ‘This is the last time I’m going to be on the field.’ It’s sad.”

Tesiny, who backed up Alec Durkin in goal for much of the season, played the entire game and played quite well. He made 10 saves, about half of which were especially tough.

Asked afterward if he was inspired by the occasion, Tesiny replied: “I’m always inspired to play well. If it was any other day, I would have played just as well. I guess today because it was Senior Night, there was definitely something in the air.”

The Tuckers didn’t register their first goal until Jack DiGregorio’s unassisted strike 8 minutes 30 seconds into the third quarter. Fourth-quarter goals for the Tuckers were supplied, fittingly, by seniors, Grathwohl and Izzo (assisted by Stumpf). It was also during that quarter when Izzo and Connor Malone fired shots off the pipe.

Harborfields looked like a playoff team even though its coach, Rich Petillo, said the Tornadoes do not have a chance to make it into the postseason.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “It’s been up and down. There was a turning point in the season where we’ve stepped it up and played well against the good teams, and then we didn’t carry it over to the next game, so we couldn’t maintain that high intensity, that high level. That’s something that they have to learn.”

Taking note of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s record, Petillo said he noticed an improvement in the Tuckers.

“That’s a huge compliment to the coach and the players out here,” he said. “They’re working hard and you can see it on the field. This is a nice team.”

Some of the Tuckers — like Baglivi, Izzo, McCoy and Stumpf — have college lacrosse in their future. For others, it may be the last time they play.

“It’s weird that it’s over,” Tesiny said. “We were the beginning, but we pass it on to another generation that will keep it going.”

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04/18/13 7:07pm
04/18/2013 7:07 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Kevin Izzo shielding the ball from Center Moriches' Zach Brady.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Kevin Izzo shielding the ball from Center Moriches’ Zach Brady.

TUCKERS 6, RED DEVILS 4

A position change has meant more freedom for Pat Robbins.

Robbins knows full well what it is like as a lacrosse attackman, wedged into a section of the field, having to dodge and deal with long-pole defenders whacking their sticks at him.

Then things changed for Robbins before this season started. Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s rookie coach, Ryan Mahoney, made a significant lineup adjustment. With the addition of Colin McCoy, a transfer attackman from Virginia, there was a numbers issue. Mahoney didn’t have enough attacking positions to go around for the players he wanted on the field.

“These guys have talent,” he said. “I can’t have them on my bench.”

So, he made a decision. In an effort to make best use of the personnel available, Mahoney moved Robbins to middie.

“I had four attackmen that were all equally good,” Mahoney said. “Pat Robbins, I thought, was the most athletic, and I thought that he could help us better in the midfield.”

That’s how Robbins became a middie.

In midfield, the junior has room to run and exchange passes with other middies like Jack DiGregorio, Casey Grathwohl and Zach Holmes.

“I feel like I got moved up to middie because I’ll be more involved in the game,” Robbins said. “I feel like I can be more involved with ground balls, defense, fast breaks. I feel like I can contribute. I enjoy it.”

Asked how he thinks he’s doing, Robbins replied: “It’s a little different, but I feel like I’m getting better. I know about the game more as an attackman. It’s a little bit different as a middie. It’s a lot more hustling. It’s a lot more stamina than attack, but you’re also playing against short sticks.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Stumpf, who was involved in three of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's first four goals, carrying the ball while Center Moriches' Eric Birmingham gives chase.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Stumpf, who was involved in three of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s first four goals, carrying the ball while Center Moriches’ Eric Birmingham gives chase.

Mahoney said Robbins has been a good fit in midfield, and the move has been beneficial to the team. “It opens up a lot of opportunities that we take advantage of,” he said.

Indeed, Robbins has been one of the integral pieces in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s improvement, further evidence of which was provided Thursday with the team’s fourth win of the season, 6-4 over Center Moriches.

Kevin Izzo ran toward the goal, jumped and fired in the go-ahead goal, snapping a 4-4 tie with 8 minutes 2 seconds left to play at Mattituck High School. It was Izzo’s second goal of the game, giving the Tuckers their first lead.

Holmes bounced in a man-up goal off a pass from DiGregorio for an insurance tally with 5:20 to go in the contest.

Grathwohl scooped up a ground ball before drawing a foul with 34.4 seconds remaining, helping to seal the team’s second win in a row. Two days earlier, the Tuckers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 12-7 defeat of Hampton Bays. The Tuckers, who entered this season with three wins from their first two varsity seasons, brought their record to 4-5, 2-5 in Division II with Thursday’s win.

“We’re starting to get in a groove here,” Mahoney said. “The guys are now playing with each other every day. They know each other’s tendencies, so you see the chemistry out there getting better each day.”

Connor Stumpf was involved in three of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s first four goals, scoring two and assisting on another by Izzo.

But goals weren’t easy to come by, thanks to the fine play of the two goalies. Alec Durkin stopped eight shots for the Tuckers while Tom Demint made 15 saves for Center Moriches (3-5, 2-5).

Peter Connolly provided Center Moriches with 2 goals, the other goals for the Red Devils coming from Andrew Indemaio and Cameron Stankelis.

The Tuckers held a 37-19 advantage in shots.

“We really got after the balls and really hustled,” said Stumpf.

Center Moriches is in a similar situation to the one Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is in. The Red Devils, who are in their fourth varsity season, started the day in 18th place, one notch and only 2.52 power-rating points ahead of the Tuckers.

“I knew it was going to be a close game from the start,” Center Moriches coach Kevin Scott said. “We knew it was going to come down to the wire. Just not holding the ball on offense really killed us a lot toward the end of the game.”

For his part, Robbins contributed 1 assist, 2 shots and 2 ground balls. Then again, statistics alone don’t define his game as a middie. He has sacrificed statistics for the betterment of the team.

“You might not see it in the stats, but if you watch him, he’s the one who’s opening up that second pass,” Mahoney said. “If there were hockey assists, I’m sure he would be leading the team.”

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04/04/13 7:51pm
04/04/2013 7:51 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Casey Grathwohl (white jersey) and Bayport-Blue Point's Brian Ward vying for the ball after a face-off.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Casey Grathwohl (white jersey) and Bayport-Blue Point’s Brian Ward vying for the ball after a face-off.

PHANTOMS 15, TUCKERS 5

Ryan Mahoney learned a lot about his Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team the morning after a recent loss to Islip. The first-year coach arrived at the field at 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. practice, only to find that his players had already been on the field, training on their own for an hour.

That spoke volumes about how the Tuckers feel about losing and their genuine desire to improve.

“This is my first year coaching,” Mahoney said, “but I can tell you already that I’ll never forget that because it shows that my players want to win and they want to get better, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that as a coach.”

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold began its third varsity season last month by winning its first two games, equaling its win total from 2012. Even the Tuckers’ third straight loss since those two wins, a 15-5 defeat to well-respected Bayport-Blue Point on Thursday, showed signs of progress. Playing such a team in their first two years, the Tuckers might have been boxed in their own half of the field and trounced by a greater margin.

The way the game started at Mattituck High School, it might have appeared headed that way. After Bayport-Blue Point (5-0, 3-0 Suffolk County Division II) won the opening face-off, Ryan Hake dashed down the field and zipped a shot into the goal. It was 1-0 Bayport-Blue Point, and only 18 seconds had elapsed.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Stumpf of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold craddling the ball while Bayport-Blue Point's Austin Belz shadows him.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Stumpf of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold craddling the ball while Bayport-Blue Point’s Austin Belz shadows him.

But the Tuckers (2-3, 0-3) kept their composure and hung with the Phantoms. The score was 2-0 after one quarter and a respectable 5-1 at halftime.

Bayport-Blue Point’s quality came through in the third quarter when it stretched its lead to 10-2.

“They made us pay for the mistakes we made,” Mahoney said. “If we make an errant pass, they’ll come down and put it away. If we mess up on the side, they’ll capitalize on it and score, and that’s what a good team does.”

And Bayport-Blue Point is a good team. The Phantoms, only two years removed from a state final, have played in the past three county finals. They entered Thursday’s action tied with Sayville and Shoreham-Wading River for third place in Division II. The Tuckers knew full well what they were up against.

“I was nervous in school today,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold attackman Kevin Izzo said. “I’m not going to lie.”

It doesn’t hurt the Phantoms that they also have players like the Ward brothers, Brian and Kevin.

Brian Ward became Bayport-Blue Point’s all-time points leader on Thursday. The senior attackman, who is headed to Ohio State, scored the 273rd point of his career with his goal with 10 minutes 35 seconds left in the game. Brian Ward, who has been on the team since he was an eighth grader, finished the contest with 2 goals and 3 assists.

“Today’s a special day,” Bayport-Blue Point coach Mike Luce said. “That’s good stuff for him.”

Kevin Ward provided Bayport-Blue Point with 4 goals and 1 assist. Multiple goals were also contributed by Austin Belz (2 goals, 4 assists), Hake (3 goals, 1 assist) and Jack White (2 goals). George Ringer and Jake Weinman also scored for the Phantoms.

Luce said he had expected a sharper showing by his team, but he couldn’t fault the effort. “This team gives me heart every single day,” he said.

Bayport-Blue Point won 16 of 23 face-offs and outshot the Tuckers, 44-17. The Phantoms might have had more goals if not for some fine goalkeeping by freshman Alec Durkin, who made 13 saves.

“He’s incredible,” said Izzo.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold received 2 goals from Izzo. Colin McCoy added a goal and an assist, with Casey Grathwohl and Zach Holmes also finding the net for the Tuckers.

“We’re getting better every day,” Tuckers first-line middie Jack DiGregorio said. “We just got to keep taking steps in the right direction.”

Mahoney said he sees the progress, but he also notices the little things his inexperienced team needs to work on, like picking up ground balls, making crisp passes, not going offsides.

“It’s frustrating when you lose 15-5,” he said. “It’s not fun for us, but there are some positives in there. I mean, there are no moral victories. We lost, 15-5, but we can learn and just move on. That’s all we can do.”

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03/15/13 7:11pm
03/15/2013 7:11 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold attackman Connor Stumpf scoring one of his two first-half goals before Brentwood defenseman Alejandro Romero closes in on him.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold attackman Connor Stumpf scoring one of his two first-half goals before Brentwood defenseman Alejandro Romero closes in on him.

TUCKERS 10, INDIANS 0

The new scoreboard at the Mattituck High School boys lacrosse field may have one defect. Some snowflakes were falling 19 minutes before game time when the temperature listed on the scoreboard read 51 degrees. Surely, some shivering observers noted, that must not be right because it felt a heck of a lot colder than 51 degrees.

Regardless of whether the temperature reading was wrong, the final goal tally on the scoreboard wasn’t. Those who remember Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s struggles last year when the team went 2-12 might have rubbed their eyes a time or two to make sure they were seeing things right — a 10-0 tally in the Tuckers’ favor.

The start of two new careers with Mattituck/Greenport/Southold was brightened by a first on Friday: the first win by a shutout in the team’s three-year varsity history. It was also the largest margin the Tuckers have ever won by.

Alec Durkin, a freshman in his first varsity game, recorded a rare lacrosse shutout to mark Ryan Mahoney’s debut as the Tuckers’ coach with the 10-0 blanking of Brentwood in the season opener for both teams. When the game ended, the Tuckers rushed toward Durkin to congratulate him on 48 minutes of scoreless goalkeeping.

“It’s so special, my first game [on] varsity, a shutout,” Durkin said. “It’s great.”

Mahoney may have been gratified and relieved at the same time. “I got to be honest, I definitely didn’t see that coming,” was his first comment to a reporter afterward.

“I’ve been pretty nervous for the past three days,” said Mahoney, who at 23 believes he is the youngest varsity boys lacrosse coach in Suffolk County. “Last night I didn’t get much sleep. I thought about my first game, and it was kind of nerve-wracking. I knew my goalie was young, but he played a great game.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The new Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach, Ryan Mahoney, talking to his players in between periods.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The new Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach, Ryan Mahoney, talking to his players in between periods.

Durkin got the start because senior goalie Nick Tesiny didn’t have enough practices. With his parents, Chris and Danielle, watching, Durkin made eight saves in the non-league game. He was aided by defensemen Chris Baglivi (12 ground balls, 1 interception), Dylan Holmes (4 ground balls) and Matt Carter (3 ground balls).

“I definitely had butterflies, but it was very fun,” said Baglivi.

The Tuckers looked ready and determined from the beginning. Kevin Izzo was involved in the first 4 goals, pumping in two of them and assisting on the other two by Connor Stumpf and Colin McCoy. By halftime the score was 7-0. It remained that way until the fourth quarter when the only question that remained was whether or not Durkin would get a shutout.

Perhaps the toughest save of the afternoon for Durkin came with a little over two minutes remaining in the game when he stopped a point-blank shot by Jose David Sorto.

“All I was thinking was just make yourself big and hope for the best,” Durkin said of that save.

Baglivi, a senior, said Durkin “played great. I remember when I was a freshman on the varsity, I was scared. It’s nerve-racking. He saved my butt today. I made a mistake, but he stepped up.”

Like his coach, Durkin said he felt nerves, which was understandable. “Definitely, yeah,” he said. “I woke up [this morning] and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s real now.’ ”

Asked at what point during the game he calmed down, Durkin replied, “I never get calm because when you get calm, that’s when you let up goals.”

Mahoney said he knew Durkin is talented, which is why he is on the varsity team in the first place. The poise the goalie showed made an impression.

“He definitely showed he can handle the pressure,” Mahoney said. “With a freshman goalie, you wonder how he’s going to play due to the high stress, but he handled it very well. He stayed calm in net, and he made phenomenal saves.”

With only 10 practices behind them, the Tuckers played well. Mahoney liked what he saw from his offense, which outshot Brentwood by 33-16. All 10 of the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold goals were assisted.

McCoy (4 assists), Izzo (3 assists), Stumpf (1 assist) and Zach Holmes (1 assist) shot in 2 goals each. Jack DiGregorio and Connor Malone also found the net.

“They looked like a good team out there, and that was nice to see,” said Mahoney.

Thanks to Baglivi’s efforts, the Tuckers also won the ground-ball war, 30-18. “He was all over the place today,” Mahoney said. “He’s making the right checks. He’s carrying the ball up the field, and he can handle the pressure. It’s really nice to know you have a defenseman like that on your team.”

Mahoney kept things in perspective and said his team has things to work on. Still, all in all, it wasn’t a bad beginning for the Tuckers.

He said, “It’s much nicer to be 1 and 0 than 0 and 1.”

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03/12/13 8:00pm
03/12/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Casey Grathwohl, a senior middie, is one of the players Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is looking to for offense.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Casey Grathwohl, a senior middie, is one of the players Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is looking to for offense.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the new Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse coach has not-too-distant roots to Shoreham-Wading River’s vaunted program.

Because of his ties to Shoreham-Wading River, Ryan Mahoney may have a more suitable background than most to appreciate how difficult it is to launch a lacrosse program in Suffolk County, and how important it is to remain patient for the wins to come. He also knows there can be some big rewards in the end.

It surely took time for Shoreham-Wading River. Like many new teams, the Wildcats took their lumps and went 3-29 in their first two varsity seasons in 1994 and 1995 before going 7-9 in their third year. Now Shoreham-Wading River is regarded as one of the county’s perennial powers. Mahoney himself was a defenseman for Shoreham-Wading River’s state champion team in 2007, his senior year.

So Mahoney, 23, who believes he is the youngest varsity boys lacrosse coach in the county, knows full well that a program can pull itself up from its bootstraps — but it’s going to take time.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said Monday afternoon while surveying his players as they warmed up for practice. “It’s a process.”

With two varsity seasons under its belt, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold has a similar record to the one Shoreham-Wading River had at this stage in its development: 3-25.

Seven games into last season, Tim Corcoran, who had coached the team since its inception, resigned following his arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. An assistant coach, Frank Falco, took over the team for the remainder of the season and oversaw the first back-to-back wins in the team’s short history. The victories over Southampton and Center Moriches stood as the only wins for the Tuckers in a 2-12 season.

And now, a new season is upon the Tuckers.

“It’s a new program, which means the kids are very enthusiastic,” Mahoney said. “With the potential here, the future looks bright, and as a team, we’re just looking to improve each and every year. As long as we can improve from last year, we’re doing very well.”

Connor Stumpf, an all-division attackman, heads a cast of returning players along with four other seniors: defenseman Chris Baglivi, middie Casey Grathwohl, middie Connor Malone and goalie Nick Tesiny. Also back from last year’s team are middie Jack DiGregorio, defenseman Matt Carter, attackman Pat Robbins, defenseman James Burns, defenseman Justin Tyler and defenseman Ben Pileski.

Among the new additions are middie Zach Holmes, goalie Alec Durkin and middie Colin McCoy, a transfer from Virginia.

The Tuckers are seeded 19th out of 21 Division II teams.

“I see glimpses of a good team right now, and that’s promising,” Mahoney said. “We have winnable games on our schedule, which is promising, and it’s great for these kids to get a few wins here and there because that creates motivation.”

Mahoney said the Tuckers have been focusing on the basics in their early practices. He likes the athleticism he has seen from his players and has raved about their attitudes.

“They’re excited to get going here,” he said. “They’re excited to learn. They’re always willing to get better. It’s a huge help as a coach.”

Mahoney said he is anxious to see what the Tuckers do Friday when they open their season at home with a non-league game against Brentwood.

“Friday will show us where we need more work,” he said. “It’s so cool that it’s finally here. I’ve been waiting for this for a while. The winter workouts and stuff we’ve been doing have been nice, but it’s almost been like a tease. So, now I can finally say we’re ready and we’re here and we’re ready to go.”

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