Mattituck vs. Center Moriches.
North Fork vs. South Shore.
The best of Suffolk County Class B boys soccer.
There are few other high school soccer rivalries on Long Island that match the intensity these two teams put on the field.
While some other schools might argue that their rivalry is more fierce, one thing is certain — no other soccer rivalry goes back some 76 years and still resonates today.
In fact, on Nov. 12, 1937, Mattituck defeated Center Moriches, 1-0, at Eastport High School to capture the Suffolk County Interscholastic soccer title. It was the first year the Tuckers fielded a competitive team, directed by the legendary coach Robert Muir, for whom the school’s athletic fields are named.
According to the Long Island Traveler, those two schools “put up one of the hardest-fought games ever to be witnessed in the county.”
How appropriate that it was hotly contested because many, if not all, Mattituck-Center Moriches confrontations seem to be that way today.
The rivalry renews this afternoon with Round 1 at Center Moriches High School at 4:30 p.m.
“They always play us hard,” Mattituck senior goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski said after he and Ben Knowles backstopped the Tuckers to a 5-0 league win over Wyandanch Monday. “You know it’s going to be a one-goal game. You know it’s not going to be a soccer game.
“When we play Center Moriches, it turns into like this weird form, whatever goes.”
Mattituck (5-1-0, 4-0-0 League VII) entered the game ranked third among Class B schools by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Center Moriches (4-0-1, 2-0-1 League VII) defeated Babylon Monday, 5-1, (Jake Sweeney had two goals) and is ranked 11th in the state.
Regardless of where the schools are ranked, there will always be a rivalry.
“I don’t care if Mattituck or Center Moriches is a fourth- or fifth-place team or the first- or second-place team,” Center Moriches coach Chris O’Brien said. “It’s always a big game because it’s a rivalry game. We haven’t beaten them in the county playoffs in three years. The last time we did was ’09 and we wound up winning the whole thing. We won the state championship that year. It would be nice to get back there with this group.
“But you’ve got a lot of steps before that. You’ve got to get into the playoffs first. You’ve got to play well enough during the season and they’ve got to play well in the playoffs before you see them. And of course, you’ve got to finish the deal. Until somebody takes the championship away from them, they’re still the champs.”
Center Moriches junior forward and co-captain Anthony Parlato realized that all roads to New York State glory go through Mattituck. He said that beating the Tuckers “would mean so much,” to him. “It would mean a lot to the school, too,” he added.
In last year’s Class B final, Mattituck, despite playing a man down after right back Walter Jacob was red-carded, overcame its rivals, 4-2.
“It’s something that Mattituck soccer has been based on,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “That rivalry just feeds soccer in the East End. It used to be Mattituck, Southold and Center Moriches when I was growing up. That’s kind of died down a little bit. A lot of the guys know each other on the North Fork. We’re not in the same league, we’re not in the same classification any more. Center’s always been there, always in our league, always in our class, so it was always some little extra juice to the match.”
Apparently there was some juice in that first championship game. A Mattituck player by the name of Repczynski, a left wing (no first name given), scored the lone goal into the center of the net late in the first period (it was not known whether the game was divided by quarters or halves).
According to the Traveler, Center Moriches had difficulties penetrating the goal area due to defenders Danowski and Bialeski. Goalkeeper Jazombek made only one save.
“A large crowd and bands from both schools gave the necessary color to the playoff contest,” the Traveler reported.
So whatever passion there was then has been brought forward some 76 years.
“I love beating Center Moriches,” Ostrowski said. “I don’t know. It’s all about the history. It’s just so intense when you meet Center.”