The long search is over. The Mattituck High School boys soccer team has found a true goal scorer.
Coach Will Hayes said, for the first time in four years, he has a goal scorer. His name is Jack Burkhardt.
Burkhardt, a junior forward, has been on the team since he was a freshman. But this isn’t the same Burkhardt, even since last year when he was more of a role player.
Burkhardt called the change “dramatic. Last season I didn’t have many opportunities to finish and show my talent. This year the coach just said I can let loose and go crazy.”
Oh boy has he let loose. Burkhardt, one of the top point producers in Suffolk County, has let loose for 16 goals and 14 assists, both top figures for League VII.
Burkhardt had the ideal forum to demonstrate his talent in Friday’s homecoming game at Mattituck High School. He had a foot in four goals, with two goals and two assists in a 5-0 league defeat of Pierson/Bridgehampton. It was Mattituck’s fifth win in six games.
“It’s really been an explosion,” Hayes said of Burkhardt’s production. “It’s a huge change from [last year to] what he’s doing right now. Everything he does he does at a high level.”
Mattituck (10-5, 9-3) is also getting offense from junior midfielder Dane Reda. Reda scored twice Friday (both goals assisted by Burkhardt), giving him nine for the season to go with six assists.
Goalkeeper James Jacobs, one of nine Mattituck seniors recognized before the game, has been dealing with a sprained ankle. Jacobs started the match and played about five minutes before junior Emmett Ryan substituted in for him. Jacobs took part in his 20th career shutout, tying him with Cody Huntley for the school record, according to Hayes.
“We’re going to take it slowly” with Jacobs, said Hayes, who expects his first-string goalie to be fine for the playoffs.
Despite controlling the match, Mattituck clung to a slim 1-0 lead until Charlie Bordsen finished off a long free kick from Oswald Cuellar on the Tuckers’ 26th shot of the game. “We started getting in a groove and finishing our opportunities,” said Reda.
It was the first of four second-half goals Mattituck struck for within a span of 11 minutes and 48 seconds. Bordsen also had an assist during that flurry, as did Bryce Grathwohl.
Burkhardt came within inches of netting a hat trick, but hooked a shot off the left goalpost.
“I’m taking tons of shots this season,” he said. “Not all of them go in.”
Mattituck outshot Pierson, 27-6, and earned eight of the game’s 10 corner kicks.
William Walker made nine saves for Pierson (2-12, 2-9). Earlier in the season, Mattituck beat the Whalers, 4-1.
“We hit a speed bump in the middle of the season,” Hayes said. “Since then we haven’t looked back … We’re playing at a level that’s more in the line of Mattituck teams in the past.”
And Burkhardt has done his part.
“He’s been playing soccer for a long time,” said Reda, who has known Burkhardt since they were in kindergarten. “He sees the field really well. He knows where the ball should be.”
Often, that’s in the net.
Mattituck has one regular-season game remaining, a non-leaguer Monday against Wheatley at Centereach Park. Hayes expects the Tuckers will have an away playoff game after that. “We’re ready for the playoffs,” he said.
Reda agreed, saying, “It should be a good postseason.”
Photo caption: Mattituck junior forward Jack Burkhardt delivering a cross in the first half against Pierson/Bridgehampton. (Credit: Bob Liepa)