Diamond in the Pines in Coram never will be confused with Wembley in England, Maracana Stadium in Rio or even Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. But the sports complex has become a must destination site for some of the best Suffolk County soccer teams come the fall.
And that includes the Mattituck High School boys’ soccer side. The Tuckers, who spent a good portion of the summer playing at the facility, hope to return to it for the Suffolk Class B final on Nov. 2.
This year’s version of the team already has some vital experience winning a big game on the artificial turf, earning the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools title behind a 3-2 triumph over Elwood/John Glenn on Monday.
Winning the summer league obviously isn’t as big as the county crown, but it certainly will get the Tuckers into the right frame of mind.
“It’s huge,” goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski said. “I don’t remember the last time Mattituck did this. My brother [Peter, a center back] two years ago, they got pretty close and they lost on penalty kicks, so this is huge for me. It’s just really exciting.”
And it will be more exciting come November.
“It’s always great to be back here,” Ostrowski said. “It’s just the feeling knowing that you’re the best in the league. And it’s Mattituck tradition.”
Midfielder Paul Hayes had a slightly different take. “I don’t want to be compared to last year’s team [which reached the state semifinals],” he said. “This is a new team. I’d just love to be back here, hopefully going back to states. That’s my goal.”
Will Hayes, the coach of the summer team, hoped that the Tuckers will be back there in a few months.
“If you’re a high school kid, that’s what you live for,” he said. “It’s what you want to do. That’s why you play. It’s fun, but you want to win. You want to get out there in the championship game and test yourselves against the best teams and see in the end how good you are.”
The Tuckers will get one more test this summer. They will meet Central Islip, a 1-0 winner over Ward Melville in the boys’ large school final Monday, in the varsity championship game at the complex at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
Playing a larger team does not faze the Tuckers.
“I just want to show them up,” midfielder Chris Hayes said. “I don’t think they’re really expecting too much out of us. But they don’t know us as well.”
Will Hayes remembered when he coached the junior varsity team to the small schools final two years ago. “We got to the final, and sat them down and said, ‘We’re not supposed to win. The big school always wins,’ ” he said. “I think the big school has won every time but three on the JV level.”
Mattituck lost to Sachem on penalties, 7-6.
That was far from the case Monday. Only 3 minutes 20 seconds into the game, the Tuckers received a reality check as Jonny Schefer gave Glenn a 1-0 lead.
“That woke us up right away,” midfielder Paul Hayes said. “This team is not as great as us. We should be winning this game. We just got back into our game plan.”
“It was really intense,” Ostrowski said. “They gave a run the first time we played them. They scored first. Getting scored on first never really has been a problem for us. It was a battle back and forth the whole game. We got caught into their game a little bit, the kick and run. But in the end we pulled it out.”
Less than four minutes later it was tied at 1-1 as Mario Arreola motored down the left side and scored.
Oscar Puluc scored at 12:50, shaking his fist in triumph en route to a 2-1 lead. Only 40 seconds into the second half, Erik Schwartz put in a rebound of Puluc’s shot off the crossbar for a 3-1 lead, a goal the Tuckers needed because Corey Ainsworth brought Glenn within striking distance with Ostrowski pulled out of the goalmouth at 32:40.
Glenn threw just about everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at Mattituck over the final 15 minutes as the Tuckers withstood the pressure.
“It says that we’re experienced,” Ostrowski said. “We’re ready. We’ve got ice blood, basically. We don’t crack under pressure.”