The comparisons are inevitable.
Five years ago, Kaan Ilgin earned All-America honors while playing a vital role as Mattituck High School captured the New York State Class B boys soccer championship.
Today, Berkan Ilgin wears the same No. 19 as his older brother did.
“Everyone is like, ‘Are you as good as your brother? Are you going to be better?’ ” Berkan said. “I always get that question.”
And who is better?
“Kaan is better,” Berkan said. “I’m just going to do the best I can to see what I can do.”
Berkan’s chapter in Mattituck’s soccer history has yet to be written, although he has gotten off to a promising start, scoring the final two goals in a 3-0 Suffolk County League VII win over rival Southold (0-3, 0-3) on Thursday.
Southold assistant coach Luke Grigonis, subbing for head coach Andrew Sadowski, who is on workman’s compensation leave, called the junior forward’s performance “great.”
“The simpler he played the more forward he was capable of getting,” Grigonis said. “Less sometimes is the more than you do. He had a great finish today.”
Berkan grew up watching his older brother star for dominating Mattituck teams (2-2, 2-2), including the 2014 state champions.
“He was like my idol, always watching him,” he said. “I always tried to be like him.”
Berkan brought his own skill set to the table. Where Kaan was a master playmaker and goal scorer with finesse and vision, his younger brother is bigger (6-2, 150 pounds) and more physical.
“He can dribble, he shoots really hard,” center back/midfielder Bryan Soto said. “He can pound the ball. He can just crush it. If he gets a shot on goal, I doubt that’s not going to go in. I don’t think any goalie could save his shot. When he’s on his game, he’s unstoppable.”
Mattituck head coach Will Hayes, an assistant coach on that 2014 team, understood the difference between the two brothers.
“He does a lot of things completely different than what his brother does,” he said. “He does it in such a way it’s reminiscent of Kaan, but it’s not Kaan. He is just more of a physical presence than Kaan was. He uses his body extremely well to get around players. The first goal, he just outran the player. The finish was class. The second one, he got to the corner of the box and bent it in. It was really just a terrific finish from nothing.”
Less than two minutes after Soto scored at 58 minutes and 48 seconds, Ilgin doubled the lead at 60:21. Goalkeeper Emmett Ryan punted to Jack Burkhardt, who headed to Ilgin, who beat goalkeeper Cole Brigham. Ilgin tallied in a one vs. one situation on the right side at 70:20 off a Danny Puluc feed.
“It’s funny,” Hayes said. “We have Berkan Ilgin and we have Jack Burkhardt. The last time those two names played together we went to a state semifinal [in 2012]. It’s also the first time they hooked up on a score. He picked a great time to score two.”
Soto, who said prior to the game that he wasn’t going to play due to a hamstring injury incurred in a 1-0 loss to Center Moriches on Saturday, felt he was needed after Mattituck struggled in the first half.
“I felt the team had no heart,” said Soto, who yelled instructions to the defense while standing on the sidelines near the coaches. “No one was up to it. We were just lacking. Usually when I’m on the field, I take everyone up.”
He certainly did on the first goal. Billy Hickox sent a short throw-in to Soto near the left corner with both teams positioned for a long throw. Soto powered a cross into the box that was deflected by a defender and into the net.
“I just crushed the ball, crossed it as far as I could,” he said. “I was surprised.”
Added Hayes: “His contribution was more than the goal. You could see it on the players’ faces. It was inspirational. When you have a player come back from an injury you didn’t expect to be there and he’s tearing things up, you tend to play harder and have a better state of mind.”
Top photo caption: Mattituck’s Berkan Ilgin, left, tries to control the ball. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)