They lost six seniors. They were doubted. But behind Mackenzie Hoeg’s five straight goals the Tuckers did it again.
With an 11-7 win over Bronxville at SUNY Cortland June 8, the Mattituck/Southold girls lacrosse team won the program’s second straight Class D state championship crown.
“Being a small school, I think people questioned whether girls would be able to step into their roles,” Hoeg said. “While those seniors were a huge part of the state championship last year, we knew the girls coming back had great potential to go get another. Winning the first time was awesome, but winning the championship for the second time feels even better. We proved ourselves when some people doubted us.”
But the win didn’t come without a battle, especially when there’s history between the two teams.
Bronxville (19-4) is a six-time state semifinalist that has never won the title, settling for runner-up three straight years. The Broncos lost 12-1 to the Tuckers last season, and beat Mattituck in the 2017 semifinals. But the Section I challengers were coming in hot, overcoming an 8-2 deficit to topple Skaneateles, 15-11, in the semifinals Friday.
“We had watched one of their games on film so we had an idea of their game plan, and playing them three years in a row really helped us learn what we needed to work on,” Hoeg said. “I wouldn’t say we were nervous to be playing them again, but we did know that each year they have been coming back hungrier for the state title. We just had to want it more.”
The junior was a beneficiary of the attention Bronxville paid to her older sister, Riley Hoeg, who nonetheless still supplied one goal and three assists.
Mackenzie scored five straight for Mattituck (15-5), lifting a Tuckers offense that had early trouble finding the back of the net, and lost 14 of 20 draws. Her first goal made it 5-3 in the first half, and her last 9-4 in the second.
“I just try to take advantage of opportunities when I see them,” Hoeg said. “With them faceguarding my sister and paying more attention to her, it left me with more space to work with.”
Her older sister assisted on three of Mackenzie’s goals, and Francesca Vasile-Cozzo (five assists) aided another. Riley Hoeg’s lone goal with 8:55 remaining gave the Tuckers a 10-4 lead.
“I just had such a good view of the field,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “The cutters do a great job cutting at the right time, and it’s so obvious when they’re open, so it’s really just on me to get the pass there.”
Although Riley Hoeg would’ve liked to get in on the action more, she was in awe watching her younger sister finishing her shots.
“I can’t even explain how proud I am of Mackenzie and all that she has done for our team this year,” the senior said. “It’s definitely frustrating when I’m being faceguarded, but I know how great of a player my sister is, and that I can trust her to take it to the goal when we need it. Mackenzie and I have been playing sports together our whole life, so that for sure helped us create such a great connection.”
Kaitlin Tobin (two goals, one assist), Maddie Schmidt (two goals), and Halle Foster (one goal) also fueled Mattituck’s patient offense, supported by a clamp-down defense, especially down the stretch.
Next year will mark a major shift in Mattituck’s makeup, with 11 seniors moving on. Among them will be two Hoegs. Goalkeeper Claudia Hoeg, the sister duo’s cousin, made seven saves in the win and was credited with 407 for her four-year varsity career.
Mattituck once had as many as five Hoegs — all related — on the roster for a two-year period. Claudia will join her older sister, Audrey, playing for William & Mary. After next year, Mackenzie and Riley will be reunited at the University of Virginia.
“I’m am so excited to play with her for another three years, and I think the one year apart will be good for us to grow as players and people individually,” Riley Hoeg said. “But we will be working with each other again on the field very soon. Coming from such a small town I think that we all grew up really close, and community is such a big part of our town, so it has really taught me how to proud of where I am from.”