Goal scoring in soccer is anything but easy. It’s hard work. And yet, Mario Arreola has that magnificent knack for making it look so easy.
The way his goal production has been going this summer, the Mattituck striker may soon have a nickname: Super Mario. Last fall Arreola knocked in 12 goals for the Tuckers during his sophomore season. He has already bagged 10 in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.
“I’m just a striker, and that’s my job,” he said.
Arreola could end up as the king of the goal scorers among the league’s small schools.
“We’ve become accustomed to every summer league game he scores,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “I just think he’s playing at a very high level right now. His skill on the ball is excellent. His pace, he just runs by guys.”
Arreola said he has always been good at putting the ball in the net. Are there any secrets to that skill?
“Just practice,” he said.
Some know-how doesn’t hurt, either. Arreola scored both Mattituck goals in a 2-1 victory over Mount Sinai at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai on Monday evening. It was Arreola’s tie-breaking goal with a half-minute to go, though, that caught Litchhult’s eye. After collecting a ball from Dan Fedun near the top of the penalty area, Arreola saw the goalkeeper venture off the goal line a little bit. That’s when Arreola opted to go for precision and placement over power.
“He chipped him and put a little spin on it, just enough to score the goal,” Litchhult said. “That’s what goal scorers do. Not everything is a laser.”
The goal was an indication of a player who has confidence, maturity and the presence of mind to think quickly under pressure.
“Everything he does is so smooth,” said Litchhult.
In the first half, Arreola had spotted Mattituck (5-2) a 1-0 lead off John Batuello’s eighth assist of the season.
Mount Sinai (1-6) was denied an equalizer, not once but twice early in the second half. Mattituck goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski, one of only two seniors listed on the roster (Oscar Puluc is the other), stopped a penalty kick by Rob Conti. Conti chased after the rebound and pounded a follow-up shot off the left goalpost.
But the Mustangs finally drew even with about four minutes remaining. Joe Casper punched in a close-range blast after a left-wing cross from Chris Marrs.
It looked as if the teams would have to settle for a tie, but Arreola’s work was not done for the day.
Litchhult said he will need Arreola and twins James and Paul Hayes to lead the way this year. Another player who is being counted on to produce on the field is Batuello, a sophomore center midfielder. Batuello sustained a hip fracture last August and sat out the entire school season. He said he doesn’t know how the fracture occurred. Last December Batuello underwent an operation to have a screw inserted into the hip. He returned to the field in March.
“It was really tough just watching” soccer, Batuello said. “I missed it so much. Every opportunity I get [to play] is awesome.”
Batuello said months of physical rehabilitation have paid off and his hip is fine now. “I’ve been working it a lot and stretching, so now it’s 100 percent and it feels good,” he said.
That’s good news for the Tuckers, who can use Batuello’s talents in central midfield.
“In all actuality, if we’re going to do things, he’s going to have to help the team,” said Litchhult.
“John has got a good head on his shoulders,” the coach added. “He gets the ball down, he gets his head up and he’s looking for Mario.”
That’s always a wise move.
Goal scoring has been called the joy of soccer. Arreola, undoubtedly, is enjoying his hot streak.
“Everything’s working for me right now and I’m happy for that,” Arreola said. “It’s just fun when you score goals.”
No one could argue with that — except a goalkeeper.