56 players and counting between varsity, JV teams
The players, it seems, just keep coming.
Numbers are nice, and the Mattituck High School boys soccer team sure has numbers. As of Tuesday, the Tuckers had 26 varsity players (four more than were on their roster this past spring) and another 30 on the junior varsity team.
“Fifty-six and counting,” coach Dan O’Sullivan said. “There are still more that are showing up every day.”
“Numbers help,” said Luke Couch, who can play as a midfielder or defender.
With all that quantity comes quality as well, and that’s highly encouraging. Seven returning starters are among 15 returners from the team that played a compressed season this past spring, losing to Center Moriches, 2-1, in a Suffolk County Class B semifinal. The Tuckers finished 4-5-2.
It was after the bus ride back to the school following that loss when O’Sullivan immediately set his sights on this season. He pulled Couch, Jude Couch and Liam Buckley off the bus and promoted them on the spot, making them all team captains. “Their faces lit up,” said the coach.
All three are seniors.
The Couches are brothers, but not by blood. They were both adopted by the same parents from different families. As brothers, they sometimes say things to each other on the field that only brothers can.
“It’s not necessarily like a friendly type communication between us sometimes, but we get the job done,” said Luke.
The Tuckers feel as if they are picking up where they left off last season and on the verge of making a big leap.
“I’m honestly surprised at how good we are, to be honest,” Jude said Tuesday before the Tuckers lost, 3-0, to William Floyd in a scrimmage at the Lincoln Avenue Sports Complex in Shirley. “I knew we were good, but I was extremely surprised at the people that showed up and the talent that they have.”
And that depth doesn’t hurt.
The Tuckers have five goalkeepers on their varsity squad. Five!
Jack Golder, a sophomore, is the front-runner for the starting position. O’Sullivan said Garrett Grathwohl will also see time in net, and there also Marco Calise, Brady Mahon and Mike Mowdy in reserve.
Mattituck will lean on players like sophomores Wesley Secaida, Cris Arreola and Erick Morales for goals. “They’re sophomores, but with a full year under their belt,” said O’Sullivan.
Coaches like depth and competition. They make for better practices, for one thing.
“They’re all such great kids and we ran hard for two weeks and they just stuck with it,” O’Sullivan said. “They want to be a part of something and just have that family atmosphere. I think the great thing for us and the program is they’re just going to push each other in practice. They’re going to push each other for those starting spots. And I’ve said that to them, there are kids that you might have started last year and you might not have a starting spot right now because there’s so much depth here. I think it’s only going to be a positive for us.”
On Monday, Mattituck drew, 2-2, in a scrimmage at Riverhead. Tuesday’s scrimmage was the final tuneup before the Tuckers open the season Thursday at defending Suffolk Class C champion Southold.
“We have a lot of [players], but I can already tell that the chemistry is outstanding,” Buckley, a defender, said. “I mean, we’re playing off each other. We’ve been playing together for years and, I don’t know, we’re just playing very well.”
Said Jude Couch: “Now, I think, the point where we were at at the end of last season, I feel like we’re already there when it comes to cohesion and confidence. I feel like the season is going to be a whole level above what last season was, so I’m very excited.”
Now the Tuckers are hoping their player numbers will translate into other numbers: goals and wins.