SUFFOLK CLASS B FINAL | TUCKERS 2, RED DEVILS 1
Saturday’s date, Nov. 5, had been circled on Mat Litchhult’s calendar for a while.
The Mattituck High School boys soccer coach figured it was going to be a busy day in the Litchhult household, and he was right. On Saturday, Litchhult had a brother-in-law’s wedding to go to. In addition, it was also the day his younger brother, Kevin, a former Mattituck soccer star, moved to Arizona. And then there was that little business of a Suffolk County Class B final to attend to.
What is a coach to do?
“I couldn’t leave my team hanging, but I didn’t want to leave my family hanging,” he said.
So Litchhult went to the wedding, and then coached in the soccer game. He was at the 2:30 p.m. wedding, was in the reception line shortly after 3:30, left at 4, and was standing on the field at Diamond in the Pines in Coram by 4:30, wearing some of the clothes he had worn at the wedding.
The wedding, funny enough, was in Center Moriches, which just happened to be Mattituck’s opponent in the county final.
The fourth-seeded Tuckers made the day especially memorable for their coach by toppling rival Center Moriches for the second straight year in the county final. Stephen Urwand’s brilliant volley off a long service from David Burkhardt snapped a 1-1 tie with 28 minutes 31 seconds remaining and gave the Tuckers a 2-1 triumph. It was a nice ball from Burkhardt, and a tremendous finish by Urwand.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Mattituck right back Richie Koch, who was part of a defense that limited Center Moriches to only four shots.
The Mattituck-Center Moriches rivalry is one of the best in Suffolk soccer. According to the playoff seedings, neither team should have been playing in the final. But Mattituck upset No. 1 Southampton, and No. 3 Center Moriches ousted No. 2 Hampton Bays in the semifinals.
“Mattituck and Center Moriches has been a rivalry since the beginning of time,” Mattituck goalkeeper Austin Scoggin said. “No matter who’s on the team, every county championship game that involves Mattituck and Center Moriches is going to be a great game.”
This one wasn’t bad.
Both teams scored on their first shots. Edgar Amaya had spotted Center Moriches (8-9) a 1-0 lead just 1:25 into the match. It came on a short corner kick that Jake Sweeney passed to Amaya. Amaya then charged in toward the goal and ripped a rocket of a shot toward the far right corner, inside the side netting.
“The only part of our game I was disappointed [with] was the first two minutes,” said Litchhult.
If anything, though, the goal appeared the charge up Mattituck (11-6-1). Several Tuckers said they weren’t concerned at the time.
“I think when we get scored on, it motivates us more actually,” Urwand said. “We’re a comeback team, and we love doing it.”
Sure enough, Mattituck pulled even thanks to Christian Tettelbach. Kaan Ilgin laid a pass ahead for Tettelbach, who deposited the ball in the net with 28:10 left in the first half.
That set the stage for Urwand’s winner. The junior forward knew he didn’t have time to trap the ball in the busy penalty area. A first-time volley was his only real chance, so he plucked the ball out of the air. “It’s a one-touch type of deal right there,” he said.
Urwand had missed a few opportunities in another recent game against Center Moriches and Mattituck lost in overtime. Litchhult recalled telling him at the time: “You’re going to have another chance against them. You’re going to have a chance to be the hero.”
When the game ended, Mattituck’s reserve players swarmed onto the field to join their teammates in one happy mass.
“I’m just happy we have practice tomorrow,” said Koch.
Mattituck has extended its season to Tuesday, when it will play either Cold Spring Harbor or Wheatley at Diamond in the Pines for the Long Island title.
Litchhult was one of the last people to walk off the field Saturday night, but his evening was not over. He had a wedding reception to go to, with a little more celebrating ahead of him. He said, “I’m happy that I at least get to enjoy the rest of the day with my family after my second family here pulled off a victory.”