Although not quite official just yet, the South Fork boys lacrosse team is on the verge of clinching its first-ever postseason berth since student-athletes from Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Pierson, Ross School and Southampton came together to form the program back in 2017.
Victories over both Walt Whitman and Middle Country last week improved the Islanders (8-4, 109.64 power points) to ninth in the Division I standings, and again, while nothing is official just yet, with two regular-season games remaining this week, South Fork is in a prime spot to seeing its first playoff action.
The Division I/Class A playoffs are tentatively scheduled to begin this Tuesday, June 8.
“In the beginning of the season, we had our hearts set on making the playoffs,” Pierson senior and team co-captain Hudson Brindle said. “I always thought we had a really good team with a lot of potential, and now we’re showing it. As the season progresses, we’re starting to play as we thought we would, hanging with a lot of the bigger programs.”
Last week didn’t get off to a great start being that South Fork was going to have to face the top team in the county, Huntington, on its home turf. To make matters worse, close to half the team was going to miss the trip due to injuries or illnesses. Despite all of that, the Islanders held their own in what ended up being a 13-5 loss, which didn’t hurt them all that much in the power-point standings since it was against the top team in the division.
East Hampton’s Jack Freel scored four goals, Southampton’s Zac Mobius scored the other goal, and East Hampton’s Cooper Ceva, filling in for Brindle in goal, made 12 saves.
“The effort that we displayed made Coach [Mark] Carlson and myself proud,” South Fork head coach Matt Babb said. “Although we were down guys and had others playing out of position and JV players filling in the holes, we battled with No. 1 Huntington for the better part of three quarters, until we simply started to run out of gas. It was an incredible effort by the entire team, especially by Charlie Corwin, Zac Mobius, Andre Aponte, Bryan Pannasch and Jack Freel. I think this game showed our team that when healthy, and we bring that type of effort, we have the potential to play with anybody.”
Things were much different with much of the team back for the Whitman (11-7) and Middle Country (15-6) victories. Seven of South Fork’s 11 goals against Whitman were scored by players who had missed the previous game, and East Hampton’s Jack Cooper was back to winning the majority of the faceoffs, successfully earning 15 against the Wildcats. Brindle returned in goal for the Islanders with 14 saves. Southampton’s Luke Marro and Chance Brindle each had three goals and an assist, Mobius scored twice and Andre Aponte, Owen Koszalka and Corwin each scored a goal.
Saturday’s game was played in a storm that included windy, cold and rainy conditions, but it didn’t slow down the Islanders. Cooper won 20 faceoffs, Hudson Brindle made 13 saves and a number of players filled the stat sheet. Freel scored five goals, Mobius had three goals and an assist and Marro finished with seven assists.
“We demonstrated that we have multiple weapons that can score in a variety of ways, whether it be off of transition opportunities, moving off ball, or dodging,” Babb said. “Our defense has been playing strong all year long, led by Aiden Cooper, Jarrett Helgerson, Griffin Wei, Bryan Pannasch and Riley Fisher. That trend continued for this game and Aiden had an excellent individual performance with timely checks and ground balls.”
Hudson Brindle, the team’s starting goalie who ranks with some of the county’s best in terms of saves made, agreed with his coach that the defense has really stepped up.
“I think apart from Aiden Cooper, who has always been one of our starting defenders, all of our defense is new or new to varsity, so for them to step up, it’s amazing how they’ve connected with the game so quickly,” he said. “Sebastian Frowein is another guy who is in his first year at the position and he’s making plays and helping us. All of these guys are really playing amazing right now.”