Kaan Ilgin has yet to play his senior season, and he may very well already be the most celebrated soccer player Mattituck High School has ever had.
Earlier this month, Ilgin was named an All-Region player by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said he believes Ilgin is the first Mattituck player to have that honor bestowed upon him.
In addition, the junior forward from Turkey was also a first team All-State player, made Newsday’s All-Long Island first team, and was selected as the Suffolk County Small Schools Player of the Year. That’s quite a postseason haul of hardware for one of the most skillful players the Tuckers have ever seen.
“He’s got the most skill and talent as anyone who has ever played at Mattituck,” Litchhult said. The coach added: “Some of the things he does on the field, it’s mind-boggling to me. The talent is there.”
No doubt about it. Ilgin was instrumental in Mattituck’s impressive 2013 season, which saw the team go 15-3, all of the losses coming by 1-0 scores in double overtime, including a loss to Carle Place in a Southeast Region Class B semifinal. Ilgin put up 18 goals and 17 assists, playing in all 18 games.
“His balance between goals and setting people up” helped the team the most, Litchhult said. “Eighteen goals and 17 assists really speaks for itself. Teams know and they’re going to know when they play Mattituck, you’re going to have to stop Kaan Ilgin.”
That’s a lot easier said than done.
Ilgin’s felicity with the ball is reminiscent of the playing style of a former Mattituck player, Kevin Litchhult, the coach’s younger brother who scored 27 goals his senior season in 1999.
“I think on the ball, skill-wise, Kaan’s talent is I would say better, but Kevin’s nose for the goal and goal-scoring ability is better,” said Mat Litchhult.
The All-Region level is one step below being an All-American, something Ilgin can shoot for next season.
“He has another year to go,” Mat Litchhult said. “I think next year could be a year for even bigger things for him.”
Two other Tuckers made the All-State team, junior center back Paul Hayes and junior forward Mario Arreola. Mattituck’s senior goalkeeper, Stephen Ostrowski, received the John Ruffini Award for recording 10 shutouts this past season.
PORTERS CALLED GOOD SPORTS A huge three-and-a-half-foot trophy was sitting in a Greenport High School classroom on Tuesday. Why wasn’t it displayed in the school’s trophy showcase?
Quite simply because it will not fit. It’s also too big to put in the main office, said Chris Golden, coach of the Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer team, so the perpetual Suffolk County Soccer Officials Sportsmanship Award remains for now in the classroom where Golden teaches history.
The Porters were presented with the award this month for the second year in a row and for the third time over all (they also earned it in 2003). No other team has won the award, which dates back to 1989, that many times before, and the only other teams to receive the honor more than once are Hauppauge (2001 and 2002) and Bayport-Blue Point (2009 and 2010), according to Golden.
This past season the Porters were young, inexperienced and finished with a 3-11 record, but the sportsmanship honor undoubtedly brightened up their year.
“Last year I was honored, but this year I don’t think I could really use words to convey how appreciative I am of the boys on the team and everyone who is a part of Greenport soccer,” Golden said. “This means a lot. It means a lot to the kids. It means a lot to the school and the community.”
The Porters were shown only two yellow cards this past season and not one red card. The criteria for the award takes into account the whole school setting and environment that soccer officials experience when they work games. Golden said it reflects everyone associated with the program, including the players, coaches and fans. He said it adds up to a sense that Greenport is a welcoming place.
Golden said he is not big on rules for his team, but he does emphasize one rule. “Treat everybody with respect,” he said. “That’s the big one.”
Concerning his players, Golden said: “We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of handling yourself, not only as an athlete, but as a person. I love to win. We all want to win. You can’t guarantee a win, but you can work toward being the best possible student-athlete that you can be.”
“I’m more concerned with the kids as people,” he continued. “I see too much negative in youth sports, too much negative in high school sports, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”