BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO
Andres Aldaz was an all-conference center midfielder for Mattituck last season, scoring seven goals.
If experience and talent count for anything, the Mattituck Tuckers have the makings for quite a good boys soccer team. After all, it isn’t often that a high school team finds itself loaded with as many seniors as the Tuckers have.
Fifteen of Mattituck’s 25 roster spots are taken by 12th-graders, and that could spell good news for the Tuckers.
“They all got a lot of [playing] time last year,” Coach Mat Litchhult said of what might be the largest senior class he has coached in his 10 years in charge of the team. “They know what it takes, day in, day out, to play at the varsity level.”
Litchhult hopes senior know-how will help Mattituck find the consistency that evaded it last year when the team went 9-7-1, losing to Southampton in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals. “We were consistently inconsistent,” he said.
Many of the pieces appear to be in place for a successful 2010. On paper, at least, both the defense and midfield look solid. The team unquestionably has depth. With all those seniors, it has experience and leadership.
All of that usually equates to a good season, but there is that nagging question of goal scoring. Where will the goals come from?
“We need somebody to emerge as that consistent goal scorer, game in, game out,” said Litchhult.
Andres Aldaz and Shawn Smiley shared the team lead in goal scoring last year with seven apiece, and both are back.
Aldaz, a senior center midfielder, was named an all-conference player as was senior goalkeeper Cody Huntley. The 6-foot 5-inch Huntley gave up 16 goals in 17 games and recorded seven shutouts.
Mattituck also has a pair of all-league seniors in forward Alex Scalia and sweeper Matt Waggoner. Two other seniors, stopper Joe Pfaff and midfielder Peter Harbes, were also in the starting lineup in 2009.
Another two seniors, forward Kevin Reyer and midfielder John Hamilton, were on the field quite a bit last season. Also offering varsity experience are defender Brandon Lake, midfielders Colin Keil, Pat Hanly and Wilson Quizphi and forward Tim MacNish.
Richie Koch and Brenden Andersen are expected to see a lot of playing time at outside back positions.
Austin Scoggin is the backup goalie. Also joining the squad are: Christian Tettlebach, Max Padula, Casey Ciamaricone, Jack Baglivi, Kieran Nish, Pete Ostrowski, Mynor Javier and David Burkhardt.
“It’s a team that has a lot of talent and a team that has some depth at a lot of positions, especially in the back,” said Litchhult, whose career record is 104-31-11 (.712).
The Tuckers, who are expected to line up in a 4-4-2 formation, have impressed their coach with their work ethic in two-a-day training sessions. Obviously, Mattituck’s seniors will dictate how far the team goes this year. Litchhult said, “I keep telling them every day, as much as I’m the coach of the team, it really falls in their hands.”
Tradition is not automatic. Similar to an annual club membership, it must be renewed year after year.
That is the message that Southold Coach Andrew Sadowski is trying to convey to his players. The First Settlers (14-3 in 2009) have a proud, winning tradition, and Sadowski is doing his best to let them know that it’s now their turn to uphold it.
“I’m hoping they got it,” Sadowski said. “There are too many upperclassmen taking it for granted that everyone is going to roll over. They haven’t got it stuck in their head that no one rolls over.”
For the first time in Sadowski’s 17-year tenure as Southold’s coach — during which he has compiled a 190-83-12 (.667) record — he has to deal with the loss to graduation of eight starting seniors. He has never had to absorb the loss of that many in one year before. Because of that, a good deal of curiosity surrounds how the team will do this year.
“We lost all these guys, what are they going to do?” Sadowski said. “We know that they’re always coming up with something else. What do they got now?”
Southold lost some quality players, most notably Justin Rothman (14 goals) and Kevin Parma (11 goals). But the First Settlers do have Jake Ellis, a senior midfielder who started as a sophomore but sat out the entire 2009 school season after breaking a leg in a club game. During one stretch, there was concern about Ellis’ ability to walk properly for the rest of his life. But the report is his speed is back, he looks good, and he could be a candidate for the League VIII most valuable player award.
Southold will also be counting on two senior defenders in Chris Suskevich and Matt Hallock. Junior midfielders Brian Cassidy and Chris Fouchet bring vital experience. Evan Miller and Sean O’Donnell, a pair of sophomores who can play either midfield or forward, are expected make an impact as well.
In the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, the First Settlers went 0-10 and were outscored, 33-6. Very un-Southold-like numbers.
It can be a mistake to read too much into summer league results, but Sadowski was uneasy about what he saw — or didn’t see — from his offense. “The thing that concerns me about our summer league is we weren’t very productive offensively,” he said.
At the same time, younger players got a taste of the varsity game, and a handful of sophomores saw a lot of playing time with the summer league team.
Southold has won four straight league championships, and before last year had won four county titles in a row. “We’ve been very fortunate,” Sadowski said. “We’ve had a lot of talented players.”
It is an extraordinary run that he doesn’t want to see end.
A consolidated Greenport/Shelter Island team will take the field this fall for the first time at the varsity level. The Porters have about 10 players from Shelter Island involved in the program, including two at the varsity level, junior midfielder Jimmy Read and senior midfielder Andrew Belt-Cappellino.
“Having Shelter Island is a huge, huge asset,” said Coach Chris Golden, who is assisted by another Shelter Islander, Jim Read, the player’s father.
Greenport High School remains the home of the Porters, although they will host a game at Shelter Island High School on Sept. 25 against The Ross School.
The Porters had a disappointing season in 2009, going 6-9-1 and failing to reach the playoffs, something they had accomplished the previous two years.
But Golden has raved about the effort he has seen from his players in practice. “In my four years [of coaching the team], this is the most cohesive, hard-working, willing group of soccer players I’ve ever had,” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, their work rate and their energy, everything, is a 10.”
Although the Porters lost Orlando Lopez (12 goals) to graduation, they have an all-conference performer in senior defender Marvin Rodriguez, and two all-league players in junior midfielder/forward Mike Reed and sophomore midfielder/forward Camilo Torres.
In addition, midfielder/forward Pedro Rodriguez, midfielder/forward/goalkeeper Sean Charters, forward Edwin Arias and midfielder/defender Julio Anaya were also regulars in the lineup.
Nate Reece, a defender, and midfielders Andrew Semon, David Dillon and Beau Pollack are also looking to make their mark.
“There isn’t any standout player,” Golden said. “There isn’t any dominant player. There are no distractions. This has been a blue-collar, hard-working [group]. This team is committed to working hard and working together.”