Chelsea Marlborough’s recollection of her first season on the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team sums up just how far the program has come in a short time.
The Tuckers were entering their third season in 2013 and, as Marlborough recalls, the team had trouble even stringing together passes at practice. That image stands in stark contrast to the scenes from this month, when Marlborough and her teammates celebrated after winning the state Class D championship.
Mattituck/Southold won its first state title in the program’s eight-year history when it defeated Bronxville, 12-1, at SUNY-Cortland, capping the team’s second consecutive trip to the state tournament.
“I remember spring break, my seventh-grade year,” said Marlborough, who had 22 points and 10 assists this season. “We used to run because we couldn’t catch three lefty balls in a row. To look at our program and think we were ever at that point is unbelievable. We’ve come such a long way and everyone has been a part of it.”
The team won a single game in each of their first two seasons, before winning five in 2013. They won nine and made the playoffs in 2014, and picked up their first postseason win in 2015.
“We’ve been through a lot,” coach Matt 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.”
The Tuckers reached the Suffolk Class C semifinals in 2016 and earned a trip to Cortland last year after winning the Long Island Class D championship, before falling to Bronxville in the state semifinals. Marlborough said they were just happy to make the trip upstate last season, but were looking for more this year.
“Last year, we were thinking about the banquet and taking all the pictures we could,” said Marlborough, who will play collegiately at Harvard. “This year, we all said, ‘Get to practice, make the most of that time, take care of your body.’ Everybody was in bed by 9:30. This was a business trip.”
The Tuckers certainly took care of business in Cortland. They defeated South Jefferson, 7-6, in the semifinals after Claudia Hoeg stopped a shot with two seconds left, setting up a dominant performance in the final by allowing just a goal to Bronxville.
“Our defense is a rock,” attack Francesca Vasile-Cozzo said. “I think that each one of the players knows what to do. They have each other’s backs, and it’s all about communications and teamwork.”
The offense was strong as well, putting up 14 goals in its county title win over Babylon and 16 more in the Long Island championship against Carle Place.
Sisters Mackenzie Hoeg (51 goals and 32 assists) and Riley Hoeg (39 goals, 39 assists) led the way, along with Vasile-Cozzo, who had 20 goals and 44 assists. Mackenzie and Riley are Claudia’s cousins.
The performances culminated in an effort that sent the team’s seniors — Marlborough, Jane DiGregorio, Ashley Burns, Brianna Fox, Alex Talbot and Alex Beebe — out on top.
“We’ve done so much together leading up to this moment,” Marlborough said. “It’s just crazy to think about how we’ve made it this far.”
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Suffolk D championship
Long Island championship
Carle Place, 16-5
South Jefferson, 7-6