When one goal closes, another goal opens up. And it has all worked to Cody Huntley’s advantage.
Huntley, a senior goalkeeper for the Mattituck High School boys soccer team, had originally had his heart set on playing for Hofstra University. But he changed his mind when he saw Hofstra’s goalkeeping situation change dramatically with the signing of a highly touted freshman.
Fearing that he might not see much playing time, Huntley resumed his college search — and he found Cincinnati.
Instead of playing for Hofstra in the Colonial Athletic Association, Huntley will play for Cincinnati in the Big East Conference. Not bad for a consolation prize.
Huntley can look at his Hofstra plans falling through as a blessing in disguise.
“As soon as that thing didn’t work out, it opened up a million new opportunities because if I had decided I wanted to go there, I wouldn’t have ever seen what other opportunities there were,” he said. “I can’t complain going to the Big East. I’m really looking forward to it.”
At least initially, Huntley will not receive a scholarship, but he will get something else: a chance to win a starting position.
Cincinnati, which went 7-5-7 and reached the Big East Championship semifinals last year, has said goodbye to one of the best goalkeepers in school history. Matt Williams was the team’s defensive most valuable player, setting a school record with a 0.68 goals against average. He finished his college career with 20 shutouts, second in school history. Replacing Williams in goal is one of the issues the Bearcats must address.
“The obvious question is going to be in goal,” Cincinnati Coach Hylton Dayes told GoBEARCATS.com.
Among the candidates are returning player Joey Barnard, Taylor Hafling, a transfer from New Mexico, and Huntley.
The 6-foot-5 Huntley was an all-New York State first team selection in 2010. He was a key figure for Mattituck (16-3-1) last year, posting 13 shutouts and a 0.63 GAA for the Long Island champion Tuckers. Mattituck fell one win short of reaching the state semifinals, losing to the John S. Burke Catholic Eagles in penalty kicks, 7-6, after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer.
“I think his senior season was tremendous,” Mattituck Coach Mat Litchhult said. “We probably wouldn’t have gone as far as we had without him.”
With his height, Huntley is strong handling crosses and has good mobility “He takes up a lot of the goal,” Litchhult said. “People don’t have a lot of the net to shoot at. For a big guy, he makes good reaction saves.”
Huntley was sporting a Cincinnati sweatshirt, with a Cincinnati hat sitting on the table while he signed paperwork Friday during a signing ceremony in Mattituck High School’s library.
“Any kid who makes it to a Division I school, let alone the Big East Conference, has got to be an exceptional athlete,” Mattituck’s athletic director, Gregg Wormuth, said. “What he does on the field is phenomenal. For one of our athletes from Mattituck to play in the Big East Conference at a school like Cincinnati, it’s incredible. You can’t say enough about that. I think it speaks a lot for what the tradition of Mattituck soccer is, how hard our kids work and how prepared they are to play at the next level.”
Huntley had also considered the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University and West Virginia. But he said he was sold after Cincinnati flew him in for an official visit and he laid eyes on the campus.
“When I walked on the campus, I was like, ‘O.K., I want to come here for the next four years,’ ” he said. “The campus is just amazing.”
Litchhult said: “He’s definitely going from the small pond to the big pond, and he’s got to realize this is another level. Big East Division I soccer is quite the challenge. It’s going to be a tough task, but somebody who’s worked as hard as he has, I think he’s up to the task.”
Huntley said he is running a couple of miles every day and following a training regimen he received from Cincinnati. He is also playing for a Brentwood club in a men’s league.
Cincinnati will open its season on Aug. 15 against Bowling Green.
“I feel very lucky to have this opportunity,” Huntley said. “It’s definitely a big step, I would say. At the same time I’m looking forward to it, I feel a little nervous because I’m playing with some of the best players in the country, but I think I’ll be ready to play.”