TUCKERS 1, RED DEVILS 0
On a team that possesses some strong playing personalities, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle on the Mattituck boys soccer team, especially for a goalkeeper.
Due to the Tuckers’ possession game, the keeper might not see any action for long stretches of time. So, senior goalkeeper and co-captain Steven Ostrowski lets his teammates know that he is involved in the match when he shouts encouragement to his teammates.
On Wednesday, Ostrowski let his actions speak louder than any words he could have uttered during the Tuckers’ 1-0 triumph over host Center Moriches in a Suffolk County League VII game in what could be the biggest rivalry in the county.
Mattituck (6-1-0, 5-1-0 League VII) chalked up a rare road win at Moriches (4-1-1, 2-1-1 League VII) behind a Mario Arreola’s first-half goal, some key saves by Ostrowski and a poor decision by a Center Moriches player who thought an indirect kick was a direct kick, squandering a second-half opportunity for the hosts to equalize in the hard-fought contest. Moriches wound up playing a man down the final 27:46.
While it might not have been the most technical game between the two arch rivals — the Tuckers have beaten the Red Devils in the last three Class B championship games — there was no question both sides left it on the Moriches’ football field.
“I am going to sleep well,” Arreola said. “I scored the goal, the winning goal and it’s important.”
“I haven’t gotten a chance to catch my breath yet,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “That’s Mattituck and Center Moriches soccer. It didn’t matter that they had 10 guys. They played right to the end. They have gave us everything that we can handle. We didn’t have any good results here in the last couple of years.”
Moriches pressed for a second-half equalizer. Ostrowski saved a header by Anthony Parlato, but could not retain possession of the ball on the goal line. A scramble ensued as several players fell over one another. Mattituck center back Paul Hayes wound up with the ball between his legs. The referee called an indirect free kick for a dangerous play.
“I had possession of the ball and the kid headed me out, which should have been the initial foul,” Ostrowski said. “The ref, I guess missed that.”
Kevin O’Brien quickly took the free kick and fired it into the net, but it was disallowed by referees because it was an indirect free kick and needed to be touched by another player before entering the net.
“Everyone’s really confused,” Ostrowski said. “They tried to pull a fast one and play it and put it in the goal, but it was an indirect kick so when the ball crossed the goal line it was just a goal kick.”
And Moriches missed a fabulous opportunity to tie the game.
“We have to be a little bit more composed than we were in various aspects, understanding what the situation was,” Moriches coach Chris O’Brien said. “If that’s a direct foul, that’s a PK, no question about it, but that being said, I mean, the ref’s hand’s up, we have to have a little bit more composure. It was a perfect opportunity to tie the game, but we also lose composure and have a kid red-carded, too.”
It went from bad to worse for the hosts when forward Jake Sweeney was given a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct following the play. Since it was his second yellow, he was ejected, forcing Center Moriches to play a man down the rest of the way.
“You can’t do that against Mattituck,” O’Brien said. “It’s tough enough to play them full strength. You don’t want to play them when you’re short, down a man.”
Ostrowski (seven saves) denied the host on several occasions, including parrying a 40-yard free kick by Kevin O’Brien over the crossbar with 12:36 remaining in the first half.
What Ostrowski couldn’t get to, Hayes did.
“That kid comes up huge for me so much,” he said. “He cleared the ball off the line once. The ball came in so fast. I was like looking at, thinking I was going to get it and he was right there to clear it out.”
Arreola had given the Tuckers the lead with 19:13 left in the first half when he scored from two yards, converting Mike O’Rourke’s rebound off the right post.
“It was a lucky play,” Arreola said. “It was right in front of me and I just had to kick it in.