East Hampton High School’s lacrosse teams embarked on their seasons this past week, with promising results in the girls’ case, and with somewhat less heartening results in the case of the boys.
Each team went into the season ranked 17th in their divisions, though given the girls’ 2-goal loss here to ninth-ranked Huntington Friday — a hotly contested game that went down to the wire — Ryan Mahoney’s crew seems, at least in the early going, to have the edge when it comes to playoff hopes.
The girls opened the campaign here with Southampton-Ross, a first-year varsity, on March 26, and, predictably, it was not much of a contest. Up 17-2 at the half, East Hampton eased off in the second as everyone, including jayvee players, got into the act. The final was 20-3, as Maggie Pizzo, Amanda Seekamp, Jenna Budd, and Jacqui Thorsen each had 3 goals.
On Friday, though, it was an entirely different story. Huntington, led by Sam Lynch, reportedly a Notre Dame recruit, had, according to Mahoney and his assistant, Kasey Krol, come very close to beating undefeated Mount Sinai last year.
The teams traded goals throughout most of the first half, though the visitors put three by Bonac’s goalie, Maddie Aldrich, in the minutes leading up to the break, during which Mahoney told his charges that “they say the most important part of a game is the first five minutes of the second half. . . . And remember, if you’re going to rest, rest on offense, not on defense.”
Pizzo got one back right away when the second half began, netting a free position shot, and after Huntington’s keeper had made a great save on a bid by Jenna Budd, Budd came right back a few moments later to beat her, having been assisted by Cassidy Walsh.
A Huntington goal ensued, which extended the Blue Devils’ margin to 9-7. Carley Seekamp won the subsequent draw, keying an East Hampton attack, but Budd, aiming low, missed, after which Huntington upped the margin to three again.
With 18 minutes and 23 seconds left, Budd again went low, and this time her shot found the nets. Then Pizzo, awarded another free position shot, went high, bringing the Bonackers to within one.
And so it went, with Huntington running up a bit of a lead and with East Hampton spiritedly coming back.
Pizzo was sent to the sidelines for having unleashed “a dangerous shot” with East Hampton trailing 13-12, and Lynch, who was to wind up with 9 goals, capitalized on the man-up situation for 14-12, after which Pizzo, who was to finish with 5 goals and 2 assists, returned to the fray.
Moments later, Amanda Seekamp, who had a number of steals that day, fed Walsh for a goal, and Pizzo followed with a shot into the upper right corner of Huntington’s cage for 14-all.
Again East Hampton won the draw, but a hard shot by Walsh passed inches over the crossbar.
It was then that Lynch by and large took over, scoring her eighth goal with 4:32 left and her ninth with 3:53 remaining, after which Huntington played keep-away as the clock ran down.
Walsh was to have one more chance at the end, though the Blue Devils’ keeper stopped her free position shot at the goal line.
“It’s not the same as basketball,” Mahoney said later when a sportswriter asked if fouls weren’t in order during the denouement. In order to produce turnovers in those crucial endgame situations, “we’ll have to practice our double-teams,” he, a former defenseman at Shoreham-Wading River and Bryant College, said.
Nevertheless, Mahoney told his charges following the 16-14 defeat that it had been “a tough loss,” and that he was proud of the way they had fought.
Krol added that “it shows we can play with anyone.”
Tuesday’s opponent, however, was not just anyone: It was Eastport-South Manor, the two-time defending county Class B champion.
East Hampton’s boys, after beginning the season with two nonleague wins, over Longwood and North Babylon, lost 10-5 here to Harborfields on March 25, and 19-4 at Sayville.
The former opponent led 2-1 after the first quarter, though the second period, during which the visitors poured in 6 goals, proved to be pivotal.
East Hampton, though, didn’t cave, coming back from 10-1 with three man-up scores — two by Drew Harvey and one by Regis O’Neil — within a two-minute span in the third, after which the Tornadoes’ goalie made two beautiful point-blank saves, denying the Bonackers another tally. As the period ended, Harvey, diving flat-out at the left edge of the crease, fired low, but just wide.
Afterward, Mike Vitulli, East Hampton’s coach, said, “We lost the game between the 30-yard lines. Harborfields was better than us in transition. They had a lot of 4-on-3s and 5-on-4s. They also out-ground-balled us and won a lot of the face-offs.”
When this writer asked if coming up with ground balls weren’t “a matter of will,” Vitulli, shaking his head, said that while it might not be apparent to spectators, there was a lot more skill than will involved in the scrambles for ground balls.