The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse team couldn’t have done better in Thursday’s Suffolk County Division D championship game.

After a slow start, the Tuckers went all out and played their best game of the season with a solid 12-5 victory over the Babylons at the Lincoln Avenue Sports Center in Mustique.

They scored key goals, won loose ball battles, defended smartly, and when all else failed, second-year goaltender Andrew McKenzie helped the team with important saves.

“We played a very complete game today,” said McKenzie, who made nine saves. “We didn’t have a lot of turnovers. We played a good offense and we played a good defense.”

“It was fantastic,” said junior midfielder Alex Clarke, who completed the hat-trick. “It’s crazy because today could have ended our season but we did our best to keep going.”

Tuckers (7-10) will face the yet-to-be-determined Nassau County champion for the Long Island title on Saturday, June 3 at 12:30 p.m. at Stony Brook

The win kicked off one of the most memorable and remarkable days in Tuckers lacrosse history, as the girls beat Babylon 12-6 in the second game of the same doubles Team, won the D class championship.

“It’s been great for the girls and the boys, going home with the county championships,” senior co-captain Sean Lawson said ahead of the girls’ game. “It’s great for our school and our community.”

Lawson got his wish, and he led the Turks with three goals and one assist. Seniors Erik McKenna (one assist) and Marc Zappulla contributed two goals each. Senior Lex Horton and sophomore Justin Fox each scored a goal and sophomore Shane Psaltis added two assists.

“They just stepped up and played together and believed in each other and in themselves,” head coach John Amato said after being soaked in Gatorade for a few minutes by his players. “That’s what they do. Fearless.

Lawson, who entered the game with 14 goals, helped set the tempo ahead of time. Lawson assisted Clark’s first goal at 4:03 after Ben Dellafranca gave the Panthers (6-10) the lead with two minutes to go. Cole Conboy then put Babylon up 2-1 at 5:02, but Lawson again responded with an unassisted score, beating goalkeeper Patrick Costa for a 2-2 draw at 6:23. With 1 minute and 52 seconds left in the third quarter, he added his third point with a wonderful assist on the left wing.

“Sean just kept getting better and better as the season went on,” Amato said. “He’s trying to be one of our better offensive players. Just his confidence on the ball. He’s our fearless leader.”

A key to the Tuckers is their ability to turn ground balls into goals.

Trevor Zappulla (two assists) picked up a ball for the Fox goal, which gave the Tuckers a 3-2 lead with 2:17 left in the first quarter, and they never looked back. With 4:49 left in the second quarter, a Marco Calise ground tackle gave Clark a goal and gave his team a 5-2 halftime advantage.

“The ground ball wins the game,” Zappra said. “It’s just hustle. These plays change paths in the game.”

Defensemen Gavin Richards, Dylan Cifarelli and Calise made it hard for Babylon to shoot. When they passed, MacKenzie scored a big win.

“He was fat today,” Amato said. “He plays on his head sometimes. When we need him, he makes saves.”

Added Lawson: “Great respect for Andrew, because it’s tough for a sophomore to play with all these guys. He’s earned us games.”

It was an emotional game for Lawson, who thought about his late teammate Ryan Oliver, who died in January 2021 at the age of 16.

“I just want to be the best teammate I can be,” he said. “I want to say thank you, my teammate Ryan Oliver. I just want to dedicate the game to him.”

The race was the culmination of an exciting and memorable week for Trevor Zappulla, who became a double county after winning Class D in the 800m at the Suffolk Athletics Championships champion.

“It was probably the best experience of my high school career,” he said. “High school championships are the best experience I’ve ever had in sports.”

Now, Zappra and his teammates will have the opportunity to surpass that achievement and make more history.

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