With high-scoring Tuckers, defense is a top priority

MEDFORD — Clichà s become clichà s for a reason: They contain a good deal of truth.

Whenever the Mattituck boys soccer team is told that defense wins championships, it only needs to look at its assistant coach, Steve Cook, for living, breathing proof of that. Cook was a senior defender for the Tuckers when they won their second state championship in 2003, and he has an affinity for good defense.

That may be why when the point was made that the Tuckers have been scoring a lot of goals in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League (25 in eight games, to be exact), Cook talked about how he liked clean sheets, soccer parlance for shutouts.

The Tuckers did both on Monday. They scored a lot of goals and turned in a shutout, 6-0 over Bishop McGann-Mercy at the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer League Complex. With the result, McGann-Mercy joins The Stony Brook School, Mount Sinai, Kings Park and Southold as teams that have failed to pierce Mattituck’s tight defense. It was the fifth shutout of the summer for the Tuckers (6-2), who have given up six goals this season.

“You have to have a good defense,” said Shawn Smiley, a junior who scored the first goal and assisted on the third.

Goalkeeper Cody Huntley, well protected by sweeper Matt Waggoner and fellow defenders Joe Pfaff, Richard Koch and Brenden Andersen, did not need to make a single save.

“We definitely got a bunch of guys who can play” on defense, said Alex Scalia, a senior forward/midfielder who agrees that defense has to be a priority.

But these Tuckers know how to put a ball in the net, too, as they proved once again, this time at McGann-Mercy’s expense.

A lethal left-footed shot by Smiley opened the scoring before Scalia, Andres Aldaz and Austin Scoggin made it 4-0 by halftime. Scoggin’s goal was a thing of beauty. After controlling a centering pass from John Hamilton, Scoggin drilled a shot to the upper-right corner.

Then, in the second half, the Tuckers tacked on two more goals for good measure. Pfaff lofted a shot off goalkeeper Roger Young’s fingertips, and Waggoner pounced on a shot after the Monarchs were unable to clear the ball following a corner kick.

“We’ve been doing O.K.,” Smiley said. “We need to improve some more. Everybody’s just getting better.”