TUCKERS 2, HURRICANES 0
The Mattituck High School boys soccer team ran into a hot goalkeeper on the last full day of the summer on a sunny and windy Saturday afternoon.
Senior Ryan Blake put on a goalkeeping clinic, keeping Westhampton Beach within striking distance of the defending Suffolk County Class B champions.
But Blake proved to be only human. He could not stop every shot sent his way in what turned into a 2-0 non-league victory for the Tuckers at Carl Hansen Memorial Field in Westhampton Beach.
“Yeah, he’s human,” said junior defender Kevin Williams, who had a superb free kick denied by Blake. “He’s a first-year goalkeeper, which I heard. It’s unbelievable that he’s playing. We were coming at him really quick. Sometimes we need to settle down, relax and bring it to him slowly.”
When the Tuckers did, they scored. Junior forward Kaan Ilgin set up James Hayes’ first-half goal off his corner kick and added an insurance goal in the second half. Mattituck recorded its fourth consecutive win after a season-opening loss. The Hurricanes fell to 0-5-1.
“We’re not playing our best soccer and that could be a scary proposition,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “We controlled the match. We knocked the ball around. Their keeper [turned in] one of the best keeper performances I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Tuckers hope they will not meet a goalkeeper in Blake’s class soon again. He made 18 saves, many of high quality.
“Awesome game,” Hurricanes coach Don O’Brien told Blake, who had to run off after the match for another commitment.
The Tuckers probably had wished he could have left slightly earlier.
“The goalie was good,” said Ilgin, who was denied at least six times by Blake. “It was actually frustrating because I could have scored goals.”
Ilgin played playmaker as his corner kick was headed in by Hayes at the near right post with 16 minutes 11 seconds remaining in the opening half.
“I saw him pointing to that spot,” Ilgin said. “O.K., he was going to get it. So I just bent it there and he headed it in. Great goal.”
Mattituck pushed for a goal, but Blake had some other ideas. So did his teammates, who tried for an equalizer, which would have been devastating for the visitors.
“We talked about that,” Litchhult said. “Our back line has done a great job stabilizing us back there, keeping in good shape, limiting any kind of opportunities.”
The attack finally solved Blake from the run of play with 21:18 left in the game. Ilgin, who had been denied in and around the penalty area, decided to launch a 30-yard attempt from the right side that beat Blake.
“I took it long distance because every time I dribbled, they closed space, so I just shot,” he said.
Hungry to add to their lead, the Tuckers were awarded a 20-yard free kick from the left side. Williams, who smacked in a superb 28-yard free kick in a 2-1 win over Southampton four days earlier, tried to make it a double within a week as he fired a hard shot over the defensive wall toward the upper left corner.
“There it is,” said Litchhult, standing with O’Brien at midfield.
And there was Blake, who had been positioned at the far post, but managed to scurry across the net, leap and parry the ball away.
“How many saves? Nine? Ten?” an incredulous Litchhult asked O’Brien. “Some are ridiculous.”
Added Williams: “I didn’t expect that goalie to get anywhere near there. It’s hard for the goalie to see it past the wall. He got there quick. It was down low. It was hard for him to see. It’s hard to hit one of those shots. It’s way harder to save it.”
Williams has liked what he has seen.
“If we play as a family, we’re always going to know where everyone is going,” he said. “We’re going to anticipate what everyone is going to do because we’ve been playing with each other for years.”