The Mattituck High School boys varsity soccer team doesn’t see many coaching changes. So, understandably, there was a lot of interest when Mat Litchhult made the stunning announcement just days after the Tuckers won their third state championship last year that he was stepping down as the team’s coach. Who would be his successor?
As it turned out, the Tuckers didn’t have to go far to find Litchhult’s replacement. Enter Will Hayes, a former Mattituck player who had been Litchhult’s assistant coach.
Hayes became only the seventh coach in the 78-year history of the storied program, joining Robert Muir (1936-1975), Frank Grabowski (1976-80), Craig Osmer (1981-82), Mike Huey (1984-1992), Joe Vasile-Cozzo (1993-2001) and Litchhult (2002-2014).
“It is really a tremendous honor to be counted among those guys,” he said. “I hope I do it a service. Ever since Mat told me he was stepping down, the dream that I’ve had [was] to take the job. I’m floored that they actually would give it to me. Now I’m just kind of terrified that I’m ready for the limelight.”
Litchhult spoke highly of Hayes.
“He’s probably a walking encyclopedia of Mattituck soccer history,” Litchhult said. “I’ve called him a soccer savant. The [players] will greatly benefit from him leading the team.”
Having graduated 19 players from the 2014 state championship team, the Tuckers faced a major rebuilding — and a major shock. For only the second time since 1989, they failed to reach a Suffolk County final, losing to Wyandanch, 1-0, at home in a county Class B semifinal.
“It’s bittersweet,” senior Dan Fedun said. “Last year we ended the season with a win. This year we ended a season with a loss. That’s how it goes. Most of the teams in the state end the season with a loss. We are just one of those teams in that statistic.”
Photo Caption: Will Hayes on the sidelines during a summer league game. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)
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