CORTLAND, N.Y. — When the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team talks about the journey, the Tuckers aren’t just referencing their work done in the last calendar year.
This has been a four-year odyssey with the current group of seniors, coinciding with the first year of coach Matt Maloney.
After narrowly beating South Jefferson in the state semifinals, the Tuckers completed their quest for a state Class D championship by defeating Bronxville, 12-1, at SUNY-Cortland on Saturday.
“We have really no first-year players on this team, so we’ve been through a lot,” Maloney said. “We’ve been up here. We’ve been through failing on Long Island, even in Class C. I’ve been here four years. It’s been a nice four-year journey.”
A dominant defense led by Brianna Fox, Alex Beebe, Ashley Burns, Lauren Zuhoski and Sarah Bihm pitched a shutout in the first half in front of goalkeeper Claudia Hoeg. They allowed just two shots, none on goal, giving the offense a chance to build a 6-0 lead at halftime.
Mattituck/Southold allowed the fewest goals in a state girls lacrosse championship game, according to NYSPHSAA records that date to the first championship played in 1995.
Maloney went to senior Alex Talbot in the cage in the second half, and she responded by saving the first three shots she faced. With an already sizable cushion, Mattituck (15-5) coasted the rest of the way.
“I knew this was my last time playing ever, so I just had to bring it home and try as hard as I could to stop every shot,” Talbot said.
Jane DiGregorio, Mackenzie Hoeg, Riley Hoeg, Kaitlin Tobin and Maddie Schmidt each had two goals, while Francesca Vasile-Cozzo led the attack with one goal and four assists. Maloney said his team was nearly perfect.
“They played the best game I’ve seen them play just right now,” he said. “The last game of the season the best game you could play is the way you want it to go down. They played a near flawless game. I can’t find anything that we came up short in.”
“Obviously, there are going to be mistakes, somebody’s going to drop the ball,” she said. “But what makes it flawless is the next play after that.”
An eight-year-old program, Mattituck has taken strides since the introduction of Class D last season. Beebe said, “We were hungry every day, and that’s what got us here,” and her fellow seniors — DiGregorio, Burns, Fox, Talbot and Chelsea Marlborough — helped take the program to new heights.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Beebe said. “This is my last season, and finishing it with a state title, I don’t even know how to explain it.”
It was a nearly flawless culmination to a years-long journey.