The extent to which lacrosse has won the affection of East Hampton’s youth was amply evident at Saturday morning’s clinic on the high school’s turf field as scores of boys and girls vied for ground balls, unleashed shots, were given pointers by coaches, and were treated by the Rusty Red Lacrosse Camps, the clinic’s sponsor, to ices from the Sno-Ball truck in the parking lot.
The varsity coaches, Matt Maloney (girls) and Mike Vitulli (boys), were heard encouraging players to continue developing their skills, each convinced that practice makes perfect, and Owen McCormack, who oversees the town’s youth program, assists Vitulli with the boys varsity, and who introduced the Rusty Red Lacrosse camp to East Hampton last year, talked of launching one or two travel teams here under the Bonac Brigade aegis.
Vitulli, who remembered being run ragged in tryouts with some 60 other Sachem middle schoolers, an experience that persuaded him to give goaltending a try (a good decision inasmuch as he went on to become a collegiate all-American), said that only when East Hampton was able to field separate second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade teams would the pipeline to annual success at the varsity level be complete.
At the moment, East Hampton fields third, fifth, and sixth-grade teams, coached by Chris Stewart, Rich Perello, and Neil Falkenhan.
Stewart’s team, which has even younger kids on it, including a couple of competitive kindergartners, was as of that day undefeated, the fifth graders, a number of them first-timers, were, said Perello, “improving,” and the sixth graders, a team made up mostly of fifth graders, were “learning a lot and playing hard,” said Falkenhan, whose assistance McCormack described as “invaluable.”
Other mentors on the field that morning included two of East Hampton’s four 2010 D-I players — Ryan Shaw, who as a freshman handled Providence’s face-offs, and won 55 percent of them this season, and Austin Heneveld, who was on the man-up team at the Naval Academy. Shaw said that Jake Beyer, who was reportedly on his way home, had started as a defender for Mercer College in Georgia, a new Division I program. Tyler Brenneman, another scholarship-winning 2010 graduate, is on the squad of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s fourth-seeded team, Notre Dame.
Members of the boys and girls varsity teams, who donated clothes to Big Brothers Big Sisters that morning, also helped out with the some 80 clinic-takers.
Both Maloney and Vitulli had good news to report, the varsity boys having shut out Center Moriches 15-0 and the girls having defeated Kings Park 15-10 the day before.
“We tightened up our defense in the second half,” said Maloney, whose team was trailing 6-5 at halftime. “It was senior day and our emotions were high. But in the second half we scored 10 goals. Carley [Seekamp] had three; Amanda [Seekamp] had four assists. Our seniors [Kirsten Brierley, Kelsi Thorsen, Sam Dombkowski, Erica Silich, and Brooke Burnside among them] accounted for six goals and five assists. . . . Our seniors have done a great job.”
A sixth senior, Alex Fulham, who is rehabbing an injury, had to watch from the sidelines.
Friday’s win was a landmark for East Hampton’s girls program, the first time it had won eight games, said Maloney. The team was to have played at Center Moriches Monday, a team it was expected to defeat. A 9-7 finish, while it might fall short of the division’s top eight when it came to power points, might, nevertheless, be deemed playoff worthy, the coach said.
For his part, Vitulli said Eric Tortorella had scored a goal and had assisted on five in the rout of Center Moriches, “a second-year program.”
As for East Hampton’s disappointing 6-5 loss here on May 11, Vitulli said, “I thought our defense did a good job, but our offense was a little anxious in the last minute. We didn’t get a good look. We should have settled it. . . . Their goalie made some good saves, four in one-on-one situations early on. . . .”
As of Saturday, the boys (who won’t make the playoffs) were 5-10, said Vitulli, with one game left to play, on Tuesday at Deer Park. Four of the five losses, he added, were by one goal. “We could have been there. . . .”
Brendan Damm, the team’s chief scoring threat, and Peter Johann, its top defenseman, are to begin careers next fall at the State University at Plattsburgh, where, said Vitulli, “they’ll get good opportunities to play.”
That afternoon, Vitulli enjoyed the rare opportunity of seeing two of his protégés, Zach Brenneman (Notre Dame) and Jarred Bowe (Delaware), play in first-round N.C.A.A. games on ESPNU. Brenneman scored two goals (one of them after corraling his own rebound one-handed and fighting through three defenders) and had one assist in Notre Dame’s 13-6 win over Penn. Bowe, who played defense with the Blue Hens’ man-down team, and his teammates came very close to upsetting fifth-seeded Duke, which won out in the end 15-14.
Notre Dame is to play Duke in a quarterfinal rematch of last year’s N.C.A.A. final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday.
Renee McCormack reported Monday morning that 20 had signed up Saturday for the Rusty Red Lacrosse Camp, which is to be held at East Hampton High School from July 11 to 14. The camp is for boys and girls ages 6 through 14.