For a soccer player with professional aspirations, what better place to pursue that dream than Italy, the land of pasta and soccer?
Austin Scoggin, 18, of Cutchogue hopes to do that as a member of the New York Stars, an Italian-American Soccer League club that will send an under-20 team to compete in the 65th annual Torneo Di Viareggio in Viareggio, Italy, next month. The 48-team international tournament, which includes big-name clubs such as A.C. Milan and Juventus, is a showcase for young players such as Scoggin, who are looking to show their talents.
“I never left the country, so I’m excited for that, but I’m also excited to show what I can do and hopefully somebody can notice,” said Scoggin, who was the starting goalkeeper for Mattituck High School’s Suffolk County Class B championship team in 2011.
Scoggin is coming off his freshman season for Johnson & Wales University, an NCAA Division III team in Providence, R.I. In the 14 games he played for the Wildcats, including 12 as a starter, Scoggin had an 8-5-1 record with five shutouts and a 0.94 goals-against average. He made 77 saves and had an .856 save percentage.
Scoggin took a trimester off from school in order to try out for the Stars last month. He is one of three goalkeepers who made the team that will leave New York for Italy on Feb. 8. This is the 12th year in which the Stars have offered players in the New York/New Jersey area an opportunity to play in the prestigious tournament.
The talent level of the players on the team is high, said Scoggin. “At first it was overwhelming, but I quickly adapted to it,” he said. “I think I’ve been playing well. There are a few other goalies on the team, so we’re all fighting to see who’s number one. … My game has gotten better just from playing at a higher level.”
“So far my dreams are taking a step at a time,” he continued. “I wanted to play college soccer, I did that. I want to play professionally. I’m taking a step toward that.”