‘Can’t Play With An On-Off Switch’

Coaches will know tomorrow where they stand
Maggie Pizzo, driving in on the North Fork team’s cage, led East Hampton’s scoring with three goals. Jack Graves

   “Everything’s changing by the minute,” Kathy McGeehan, who assists Matt Maloney in coaching the East Hampton High School girls lacrosse team, said Monday morning.
    “Among the B schools we’re in seventh place [in the power-rated division] at the moment — and we’re hoping to end up there or higher, depending on what we and the other teams do in the final games — but we won’t know where we’ve finished until Friday,” she said.
    As of Monday, the Class B teams above East Hampton, which has in the program’s 12-year history never had a girls lacrosse team make the playoffs, were first-place Hauppauge (12-1), second-place Eastport-South Manor (10-2), fifth-place Sayville (9-3), sixth-place Harborfields (8-4), eighth-place Kings Park (7-5), and ninth-place Rocky Point (6-5). East Hampton, at 7-5 (and 9-5 over all), was in 10th place among the division’s 21 teams as of Monday morning.
    The eighth Class B team as of Monday was 12th-place Miller Place (6-6).
    The top three Class C teams are to make the Division II playoffs as well. The playoffs in girls lacrosse are to begin at the sites of the higher seeds on May 19.
    Maloney, in speaking with sportswriters following Friday’s 12-7 win here over Mattituck-Greenport-Southold, said, “Our chances [of making the playoffs] are 50-50 at this point. We need to win one of our last two. Nothing is guaranteed.”
    Sayville was to have played here Tuesday; East Hampton is to finish up the regular season today at 3-9 Elwood-John Glenn.
    “We didn’t have our good stuff today — we made a lot of turnovers,” Maloney said in regard to his team’s performance. “We were very fortunate to get a win. . . . We didn’t play up to our full potential.”
    He and McGeehan spent a long time talking to the team in the middle of the field following the contest, though Maloney said it wasn’t all about lacrosse. “There were some internal team things that needed addressing as well,” he said.
    It was somewhat of a moral victory for the North Forkers, according to The Suffolk Times’s sportswriter, Bob Liepa, who said the junior varsity’s goalie, Nikki L’Hommedieu, a sophomore, was making her varsity debut that day in the absence of Alex Zaweski, a senior who was on a class trip. L’Hommedieu finished with seven saves. Allison Charde made five and Cheyenne Mata made seven for East Hampton. The visitors, who as of Monday had only one win to their credit this spring, played well, especially considering the fact that it’s only their third year of varsity competition. The Bonackers outscored Mattituck 7-2 in the first half, but it was 5-5 in the second.
    With about five minutes gone in the second, and with East Hampton leading 8-2, Maloney pretty much emptied his bench. He reinserted his starters with 13 minutes remaining, but even with the change the visitors narrowed East Hampton’s lead to 9-6 with 7:31 to go.
    After an exchange of turnovers — East Hampton’s offensive forays frequently broke down when the last pass was made — Gabriella Penati, fed by Jenna Budd, beat L’Hommedieu to put the Bonackers up 10-6 with 4:54 on the clock.
    During a subsequent timeout, Maloney was heard to say, “Possess the ball and move your feet . . . pass and move your feet. Use your feet on offense and defense.” Two minutes later, after Mata had connected with Hailey Tracey on a clear, Melanie Mackin drove in and shot wide, though East Hampton retained possession and, following a foul, Maggie Pizzo, who was to score three goals that afternoon, put East Hampton ahead 11-6 with a free position shot.
    A free position goal by Amanda Seekamp closed out the scoring in the final half-minute.
    Maloney, who is in his fifth year as the varsity’s coach, said he has been “pushing for us to make the playoffs every year. We felt we should have made them last year. This year, we not only set making the playoffs as a goal, but we also wanted to make some noise in them.”
    Of Mattituck-Greenport-Southold, he said, “They’re improving — they probably won more draws than we did today — and they worked the ball around on defense. Their program’s on the rise — they’ll make the playoffs in a few years.”
    Back to his team, the coach said, “You can’t play sports with an on-off switch. You have to play your best at all times. That’s the task that’s before us.”