It’s understandable that minus last season’s four D-I players — Tyler Brenneman (Notre Dame), Austin Heneveld (Navy), Ryan Shaw (Providence), and Jake Beyer (Mercer) — not to mention James Petrie, the high-scorer in 2010, and Rob Aaronson, a very good defender — East Hampton High School’s boys lacrosse team finds itself in a more difficult position this spring. No longer can Bonac fans sit back, relax, and watch the midfielders and attackmen take it to the opposition.
But while this is a new group, there is enough firepower and defensive clout to persuade the head coach, Mike Vitulli, and his assistant, Owen McCormack, that the playoffs are not out of the question.
“We’ve just got to get over the hump,” Vitulli said during a conversation over the weekend. “We can’t settle for 10-9 losses.”
As of Monday, Bonac had lost two of its first four games by that score, its opener at Hauppauge on March 26 and Friday’s game at William Floyd. Last Thursday, in miserable weather (cold rain and biting wind), East Hampton fared miserably in a home game with Harborfields, which won 13-6. Going into Tuesday’s game here with Shoreham-Wading River, one of the top teams in Division II, whose junior midfielder, Trevor Bosco, was picked by Newsday as a “player to watch,” East Hampton was at the bottom of the power-rated division at 0-2, and was 1-3 over all.
By contrast, this could be the year for East Hampton’s girls, who have never had a winning season, and who lost only one starter to graduation. Matt Maloney’s team was 1-1 in divisional play as of Monday and 1-2 over all.
The girls lost 10-8 to Rocky Point here Friday, but it must be remembered that Rocky Point is the defending county Class B champion.
Four of Rocky Point’s six goals in the first half were the result of eight-meter shots awarded following penalty calls assessed East Hampton defenders. Conversely, East Hampton converted only one of the eight 8-meter shots it was awarded during the course of the game.
“You’re supposed to make 50 percent of those shots,” Maloney said afterward, adding that “Rocky Point’s a fast team, among the top three in the county. We had a game plan, but we couldn’t capitalize.”
Trailing 9-2 at one point in the second half, “the girls never quit. We had a couple of chances at the end, but their goalie made some nice saves.”
Meanwhile, said Maloney, it seemed that Allison Charde, the third-year junior who tends Bonac’s goal, made 20 saves, though she was credited with nine. “A couple of the saves she made kept us in the game,” he said, “and she’s clearing the ball real well now.”
Of the 13-7 win at Islip, Maloney said, “We came out strong, controlled the draws, possessed the ball, and ate some time off the clock. We were up 7-2 at the half.”
The scoring has been spread out among Kelsi Thorsen (who had four goals in the Islip game), Maggie Pizzo (who had three), Kirsten Brierley, Erica Silich, the Seekamps, Amanda and Carley, and Melanie Mackin. Though Mackin went down with a sprained left ankle in the first half of the Rocky Point game and is expected to miss some time.
Thorsen and Brierley, both senior midfielders, are the team’s co-captains.
Back to the boys, Vitulli said, “We’re not getting the ground balls, we’re losing face-offs, and our turnovers are being converted into transition goals for the other teams.”
While the team had genuine scorers in Brendan Damm and John Nolan, senior attackmen, “we’re basically an inexperienced group. . . . Mike McKay [a junior], who took a year off, is our goalie. He’s doing a solid job. The defense is doing all right, but they’ve been overly aggressive. We had nine penalties in the game at Floyd.”
Drew Griffiths, a junior middie, and Damm had been handling the face-offs, the coach said. Tyler Mathews, a senior who alternates between midfield and attack, is sidelined for the moment with a head injury, though, according to McCormack, “it wasn’t a concussion.”
“The main thing,” Vitulli added, “is that these guys are working hard, trying to improve each game.”
McCormack, besides assisting Vitulli, heads up East Hampton’s youth lacrosse organization (there are third, fifth, and sixth-grade traveling teams), which keeps him very busy at this time of year.
“The kids UpIsland are playing all the time, so we’ve got to hone it down,” he said following Sunday’s sixth-grade game on the high school’s turf field. “I like kids playing other sports, but they’re not doing that up the Island. They’re concentrating on lacrosse. If we want to compete with them we’ve got to do the same.”