Most soccer coaches would probably say their teams can never score too many goals. Mattituck High School’s coaches might be among them, but the Tuckers certainly can’t complain about their ability to put the ball in the net.
No doubt about it, Mattituck’s boys team has scoring punch, with offensive players who are speedy and skillful. The Tuckers have the pieces. Now it’s just a matter of putting those pieces together in a way that best makes sense. That is their assignment this summer.
“There’s just so many players to choose from,” said Stephen Urwand, an incoming senior who can play on the wing or up top. “That’s the difficult thing. Half our team is offense.”
So, when the Tuckers need a goal, who can they turn to? Well, they can look to Mario Arreola. Or Kevin Williams. Or Urwand. Or Kaan Ilgin. Or David Burkhardt. Or James Hayes. Or … well, you get the idea.
In the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, Mattituck has scored eight goals in its first three games (two wins and a draw), not a bad tally, especially considering the games are only 60 minutes long, not including overtime. Another fact that the Tuckers have to like is that six players have shared in those eight goals, with Arreola and Williams netting two apiece.
“The offense is the strength of this team,” said Mattituck’s summer league coach, Will Hayes, a 1999 Mattituck High School graduate. “We have a lot of high-quality, attacking players.” He added: “We have plenty of good players. It’s just figuring out what to do with them. That’s what summer is for.”
Perhaps the two most impressive Mattituck players on Friday evening, when the Tuckers scored a 2-1 sudden-victory overtime defeat of Miller Place at Diamond in the Pines in Coram, were Arreola and Urwand, the team captain. Williams put away a 64th-minute penalty kick for the game-ending goal.
Arreola registered Mattituck’s first goal in the 26th minute. After a brilliant dribbling display by Walter Jacob, the ball deflected into Arreola’s path and, showing a striker’s instinct, he nailed a first-timer from outside the penalty area that found nothing but net.
That strike was the equalizer for the long-range, right-footed connection by Nate D’Agati that had given Miller Place (2-1) a 1-0 lead 13 minutes earlier.
Mattituck was unfortunate not to have scored more, thanks in part to the goalkeeping of Miller Place’s Noah Varonier. Ryan Finger of Mattituck fired a shot that whizzed past legs and bodies, apparently nicking a Miller Place defender before missing the left goalpost by inches. Arreola nailed a well-struck effort from about 35 yards, only to see it land right into Varonier’s hands. It showed that Arreola is not afraid to take a chance from long distance. As he acknowledged afterward, sometimes those types of shots go in. Varonier also did well to block a drive by Urwand in the 55th minute.
“When you watch him play, it’s pace,” Will Hayes said of Urwand. “He can push it down the line. He can push it across. He can run across the backs. He can run through the backs. It’s just a nice weapon to have.”
Arreola said Urwand “has touch. He thinks when he passes the ball. He knows what he’s doing.”
Arreola isn’t too shabby, either. The forward was the second-youngest player on the school varsity team last fall as an eighth-grader.
“He’s a bag of tricks,” Will Hayes said. “It’s fun to watch him play. He can beat you on the dribble. He can move around you. He finds spaces very, very well.”
If Mattituck is rich in goal scorers, well, goalkeeper is another question entirely. Austin Scoggin, who helped the Tuckers to a place in the Long Island Class B final last fall, has graduated. That leaves a position to be filled. Stephen Ostrowski and Casey Grathwohl, the leading candidates for the job, split time in goal on Friday. Ostrowski did not make any saves; Grathwohl had three. Grathwohl came up big in the 48th minute, blocking a hard-hit shot by Kevin Romano, who had been sent through nicely with a pass from Mike D’Agati.
“The one position we don’t have a lot of experience in is goalkeeper,” Will Hayes said. “How far they go depends on our goalkeeping, really.”
For now, at least, the other end of the field seems to be taking care of business just fine.