TUCKERS 1, PANTHERS 0
To the casual observer, a Mattituck boys soccer game features plenty of excitement.
A team filled with youth and talent, the Tuckers can bombard teams with shots, creating many more scoring opportunities than their opponent. But turning all those opportunities into goals has been the challenge, making for more excitement in the end than coach Mat Litchhult would prefer.
Such was the case Thursday afternoon against Babylon, a team still winless on the season. The Tuckers tallied double-digit corner kicks, dominated possession and peppered Babylon’s goalkeeper with shots. Still, in the final minute, the score was merely 1-0 Mattituck, creating a tense, nerve-wracking finish.
“I’m sure the fans get a kick out of it,” Litchhult. “I’m having a heart attack.”
The Tuckers held on for a 1-0 win on their home field to maintain their place atop League VII with a 6-1 record.
Keeping a team around late in the game almost came back to bite the Tuckers when Babylon nearly scored on a header with about two minutes left. A strong throw-in from the right sideline put the ball in front of the net almost as if it was a corner kick. A Babylon player managed to sneak in amid a crowd and head the ball, forcing Mattituck goalkeeper Stephen Ostrowski to make a diving stop to his right.
Ostrowski wasn’t challenged often, but when he was in the final minutes, he proved up to the challenge.
The Tuckers scored their only goal after junior Kaan Ilgin chipped in a ball on the right side for junior Kevin Williams. Babylon’s goalkeeper came charging out, got a touch on the ball, but couldn’t corral it. Williams, between a swarm of two defenders, kept his composure to keep possession and aim a shot at the empty net.
The goal came in the 44th minute.
“I wanted to kick it the first second I was one-on-one with the goalie,” Williams said. “He actually came out and got a touch on it, but luckily it stayed in front of my feet.”
The Tuckers, 6-2 overall, bounced back from their first league loss, which came last week against Hampton Bays, 1-0.
In their last three games, which started with an impressive road win at Center Moriches, the Tuckers have managed just two goals.
“When we bust out, we’re going to bust out with like seven goals,” Litchhult said.
Mattituck returns to action Monday at Southampton. The Tuckers won the first matchup, 2-1.