Boys Soccer: Ilgin brings magic to his first summer league game

Mattituck's Kaan Ilgin, left, fights for possession of the ball with Southold's Shayne Johnson. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)
Mattituck’s Kaan Ilgin, left, fights for possession of the ball with Southold’s Shayne Johnson. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

During a remarkable 3-minute 29-second span early in the second half of Mattituck’s 4-1 victory over North Fork rival Southold on Monday, midfielder Kaan Ilgin reminded the world why he earned Suffolk County small schools player of the year honors as a junior last fall.

First, Ilgin scored off a spectacular volley to snap a 1-1 tie in the Town of Brookhaven Boys Soccer Summer League small-school quarterfinal match before chipping the goalkeeper for a 3-1 lead at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.

Not bad for someone who played for Smithtown Arsenal in the United States Youth Soccer championships in Germantown, Md., only days prior.

And not good for the First Settlers, who struggled keeping up with Ilgin.

“It’s tough,” Southold’s assistant coach, Lucas Grigonis, said. “You’ve got to stay tight to him and try to take away everything you can, give him little space and almost no opportunity. He’s great. It’s hard not to compliment him even when you’re coaching against him. You have to do everything in your power and then some to try to stop him.”

Ilgin played his first-ever summer league game. Last summer he visited family in Turkey. This year he played with Smithtown until it was eliminated last Thursday, scoring once.

“It was the most fun thing to play in the world,” Ilgin said. “When you sit on the bench, you just want to go back in. The game is so fast. We played good, but it was hot, so we didn’t get good results.”

Ilgin did not miss a beat with his Mattituck teammates, forcing goalkeeper John Charles Funke to come up with several big saves.

“I missed the team,” he said. “It was easy to play after playing with Smithtown.”

“Any time you can add a player of that kind of quality into a quality side the results are usually going to be good,” Mattituck coach Bill Hayes said. “It’s nice to have him back today.”

The addition of Ilgin and fast forward Joe Tardif (3 goals in two games) have given the Tuckers a different dimension. Few teams can keep up with Tardif’s speed and Ilgin’s skill and vision.

The teams traded first-half goals. Chris Waggoner, off an Ilgin feed, scored for Mattituck with 16:47 remaining. “Great run, great finish,” Hayes told Waggoner. Peter Fouchet tied it off a nifty move across the penalty area with 9:48 left.

But then Ilgin showcased his talents. Left fullback Walter Jacob brought the ball down the left side, found Brian Doherty, who fed Ilgin for his left-footed volley with 23:04 left in regulation.

“I just wanted to do some fancy stuff,” Ilgin said.

Less than four minutes later, Ilgin latched onto a Paul Hayes feed before scoring off a chip with 19:35 remaining. Tardif made it 4-1 with 42 seconds left.

Mattituck meets Harborfields in Wednesday’s semifinals. Harborfields defeated the Tuckers’ chief Class B rival, Center Moriches, in the first game of the doubleheader, 2-1.

When Bill Hayes asked how many players were going to show up, not many hands went up. That’s the summer league, with players having other commitments.

“Right now, we are looking at nine or 10 ten [players],” Hayes said. “We’re probably going to play a goalkeeper on the field. You probably have five or six starters. But we’ll be missing all of our fullbacks, most of our core midfielders. It’ going to be tough.”

But not impossible.

“I told the kids the bench of Mattituck this year is probably going to be one of the strongest teams you’re going to play against,” Bill Hayes said. “The practice squad is going to be very, very good. The bottom 13 kids could probably start for other teams in our division. It’s a fantastic problem to have.”