01/09/13 9:00pm
01/09/2013 9:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Former Mattituck goalkeeper Austin Scoggin makes a save during an all-star match in November 2011.

For a soccer player with professional aspirations, what better place to pursue that dream than Italy, the land of pasta and soccer?

Austin Scoggin, 18, of Cutchogue hopes to do that as a member of the New York Stars, an Italian-American Soccer League club that will send an under-20 team to compete in the 65th annual Torneo Di Viareggio in Viareggio, Italy, next month. The 48-team international tournament, which includes big-name clubs such as A.C. Milan and Juventus, is a showcase for young players such as Scoggin, who are looking to show their talents.

COURTESY PHOTO | Austin Scoggin of Cutchogue is one of three goalkeepers the New York Stars will be taking with them to a tournament in Italy next month.

“I never left the country, so I’m excited for that, but I’m also excited to show what I can do and hopefully somebody can notice,” said Scoggin, who was the starting goalkeeper for Mattituck High School’s Suffolk County Class B championship team in 2011.

Scoggin is coming off his freshman season for Johnson & Wales University, an NCAA Division III team in Providence, R.I. In the 14 games he played for the Wildcats, including 12 as a starter, Scoggin had an 8-5-1 record with five shutouts and a 0.94 goals-against average. He made 77 saves and had an .856 save percentage.

Scoggin took a trimester off from school in order to try out for the Stars last month. He is one of three goalkeepers who made the team that will leave New York for Italy on Feb. 8. This is the 12th year in which the Stars have offered players in the New York/New Jersey area an opportunity to play in the prestigious tournament.

The talent level of the players on the team is high, said Scoggin. “At first it was overwhelming, but I quickly adapted to it,” he said. “I think I’ve been playing well. There are a few other goalies on the team, so we’re all fighting to see who’s number one. … My game has gotten better just from playing at a higher level.”

“So far my dreams are taking a step at a time,” he continued. “I wanted to play college soccer, I did that. I want to play professionally. I’m taking a step toward that.”

08/30/11 9:20pm
08/30/2011 9:20 PM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | After years of waiting in the wings, Austin Scoggin's time has come to be Mattituck's No. 1 goalkeeper.

It has been a long wait for Austin Scoggin. Through much of his soccer career, he waited in the wings behind Cody Huntley, who is one year older.

Then, this past December, Scoggin suffered a major setback. He took a hit while playing indoor soccer, leaving the goalkeeper with two bulging discs.

That meant more waiting.

No surgery was required, but Scoggin was sidelined until June, when he was able to resume training.

“It was bad,” he said. “I was in a brace for three months, couldn’t do anything for six months.”

With Huntley having moved on to play for the University of Cincinnati, Scoggin, his backup for the past two years, was the heir apparent as the Mattituck Tuckers’ starting goalkeeper. Perhaps no one was more eager than him to kick off preseason practice.

The first day of practice was scheduled for Monday, which happened to be Scoggin’s 17th birthday. Because of damage caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, though, the Tuckers had to wait until Tuesday to begin their two-a-day practice sessions.

One more day of waiting.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Following a six-month layoff with a back injury, Austin Scoggin resumed training in June.

But Scoggin’s day finally arrived on Tuesday when he joined 55 other players in workouts. Call it a belated birthday gift, not that he didn’t earn it. He had put in his time as Huntley’s backup the past two years.

“I was always waiting, waiting, and now it’s finally my time to show everybody what I can do,” said Scoggin.

The irony is that even with the loss of Huntley, goalkeeper is the only one of the 11 positions on the field that Coach Mat Litchhult said is settled for the defending Long Island Class B champions.

“Right now Austin’s obviously the clear-cut starter,” Litchhult said. “Losing Cody, you can’t understate that, it’s definitely big. But even last year I knew that Austin was a capable backup, probably more capable than a lot of other schools in the county had. He probably could have started for a lot of those schools, but he played behind [Huntley], and he waited for his time, and his time is now.”

Connor Egan, a senior, and Stephen Ostrowski, a sophomore who played for the junior varsity team last year, are the other goalkeepers in contention for places on the team. Litchhult said he would probably keep two goalkeepers on the varsity squad.

Egan is relatively new to soccer, but he played goal for the Mattituck Bears under-17 team while Scoggin was out with the back injury.

If there was any concern about how the Tuckers would handle Huntley’s departure, it doesn’t seem as if it would have come from the Tuckers themselves. Both Egan and Ostrowski spoke highly of Scoggin’s abilities. Scoggin may have big shoes to fill, but they indicated that the team is in good hands.

“Austin’s a really good goalkeeper. He can take us far,” Ostrowski said. “Overall, he does everything to a T.”

Egan said, “We’re just learning from him right now.”

The 6-foot-1 Scoggin played in several games for the Tuckers last season, but he has experience at the position.

“I like to come out and get the ball,” he said. “I like to dive. I like to do everything. I like to just have fun when I play. I’ll throw my body in front of the ball if I need to. I’m not afraid to get hurt.”

Asked if Huntley helped him during their time together, Scoggin replied: “We kind of had our differences. We butted heads a lot, but I mean, all in all, we worked everything out and we worked together hard.”

Litchhult said Scoggin is aggressive and vocal. “I think he gets down to block a shot very well,” the coach said. “I just want him to stay within himself. I don’t want him to think he’s super human out there. Just do the simple stuff.”

Scoggin said he still feels “little pains” in his back every now and then, but said it’s manageable. “I’m still able to jump, run, do everything the best I can,” he said.

Two things can be said for sure: Scoggin looks fit and motivated. He said he enjoys the thrill of making a big save or winning by a shutout. “I kind of like that the spotlight is on you when it’s necessary,” he said.

Scoggin said the back injury made him realize how much he loves soccer and how much he missed playing. Now he’s trying to make up for lost time. When Mattituck’s assistant coach, Pete Hansen, called him off the field during a scrimmage on Tuesday evening, Scoggin tried to talk him into letting him keep playing.

Scoggin expects he will have some butterflies, especially for the team’s first game on Sept. 10 at home against the East Hampton Bonackers.

“I’ll be a little bit nervous, but once I get focused, it will go away and I’ll be ready to play,” he said. “I know I’m going to give it my all every game, and hopefully it’s enough to bring us upstate.”

Finally, Scoggin’s time has come.

[email protected]