It’s the truth — sometimes a painful one — that the best team doesn’t always win a soccer game. The Mattituck High School boys soccer team was reminded of that the hard way in November when it was denied a place in the New York State Class B final.
Despite scoring in the first minute and outplaying Livonia in a state semifinal at Middletown High School, Mattituck ended up on the wrong side of a 3-1 final score, putting an end to the Tuckers’ 16-4-1 season and dreams of playing for a state championship. Livonia went on to engage in a scoreless draw against Ichabod Crane in the state final the next day; both teams were declared co-champions.
Mattituck endured a long bus ride back to Long Island.
“The better team’s going home,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult lamented afterward.
It was only 38 seconds into the state semifinal when Mattituck took a 1-0 lead, courtesy of David Burkhardt’s goal. Although Burkhardt (25 goals, 6 assists on the season) and Kaan Ilgin (15 goals, 22 assists) gave the Livonia defense fits, the Tuckers were unable to capitalize on a number of chances. The Bulldogs, however, made the most of their opportunities. Mitch Kinney headed in a corner kick from Brandon Holley with 26:08 to go, making it 2-1. With three minutes left, Holley sealed things by putting away a cross from Tanner Pierce.
Livonia coach Ray Maxwell spoke with admiration of Mattituck, a team that he said was “as good as we’ve seen.”