12/18/13 6:00pm
12/18/2013 6:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck junior forward Kaan Ilgin has received a flood of honors recently, not the least of which was being named an All-Region player.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck junior forward Kaan Ilgin has received a flood of honors recently, not the least of which was being named an All-Region player.

Kaan Ilgin has yet to play his senior season, and he may very well already be the most celebrated soccer player Mattituck High School has ever had.

Earlier this month, Ilgin was named an All-Region player by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said he believes Ilgin is the first Mattituck player to have that honor bestowed upon him.

In addition, the junior forward from Turkey was also a first team All-State player, made Newsday’s All-Long Island first team, and was selected as the Suffolk County Small Schools Player of the Year. That’s quite a postseason haul of hardware for one of the most skillful players the Tuckers have ever seen.

“He’s got the most skill and talent as anyone who has ever played at Mattituck,” Litchhult said. The coach added: “Some of the things he does on the field, it’s mind-boggling to me. The talent is there.”

No doubt about it. Ilgin was instrumental in Mattituck’s impressive 2013 season, which saw the team go 15-3, all of the losses coming by 1-0 scores in double overtime, including a loss to Carle Place in a Southeast Region Class B semifinal. Ilgin put up 18 goals and 17 assists, playing in all 18 games.

“His balance between goals and setting people up” helped the team the most, Litchhult said. “Eighteen goals and 17 assists really speaks for itself. Teams know and they’re going to know when they play Mattituck, you’re going to have to stop Kaan Ilgin.”

That’s a lot easier said than done.

Ilgin’s felicity with the ball is reminiscent of the playing style of a former Mattituck player, Kevin Litchhult, the coach’s younger brother who scored 27 goals his senior season in 1999.

“I think on the ball, skill-wise, Kaan’s talent is I would say better, but Kevin’s nose for the goal and goal-scoring ability is better,” said Mat Litchhult.

The All-Region level is one step below being an All-American, something Ilgin can shoot for next season.

“He has another year to go,” Mat Litchhult said. “I think next year could be a year for even bigger things for him.”

Two other Tuckers made the All-State team, junior center back Paul Hayes and junior forward Mario Arreola. Mattituck’s senior goalkeeper, Stephen Ostrowski, received the John Ruffini Award for recording 10 shutouts this past season.

PORTERS CALLED GOOD SPORTS A huge three-and-a-half-foot trophy was sitting in a Greenport High School classroom on Tuesday. Why wasn’t it displayed in the school’s trophy showcase?

Quite simply because it will not fit. It’s also too big to put in the main office, said Chris Golden, coach of the Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer team, so the perpetual Suffolk County Soccer Officials Sportsmanship Award remains for now in the classroom where Golden teaches history.

The Porters were presented with the award this month for the second year in a row and for the third time over all (they also earned it in 2003). No other team has won the award, which dates back to 1989, that many times before, and the only other teams to receive the honor more than once are Hauppauge (2001 and 2002) and Bayport-Blue Point (2009 and 2010), according to Golden.

This past season the Porters were young, inexperienced and finished with a 3-11 record, but the sportsmanship honor undoubtedly brightened up their year.

“Last year I was honored, but this year I don’t think I could really use words to convey how appreciative I am of the boys on the team and everyone who is a part of Greenport soccer,” Golden said. “This means a lot. It means a lot to the kids. It means a lot to the school and the community.”

The Porters were shown only two yellow cards this past season and not one red card. The criteria for the award takes into account the whole school setting and environment that soccer officials experience when they work games. Golden said it reflects everyone associated with the program, including the players, coaches and fans. He said it adds up to a sense that Greenport is a welcoming place.

Golden said he is not big on rules for his team, but he does emphasize one rule. “Treat everybody with respect,” he said. “That’s the big one.”

Concerning his players, Golden said: “We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of handling yourself, not only as an athlete, but as a person. I love to win. We all want to win. You can’t guarantee a win, but you can work toward being the best possible student-athlete that you can be.”

“I’m more concerned with the kids as people,” he continued. “I see too much negative in youth sports, too much negative in high school sports, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

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COURTESY PHOTO | From left, junior varsity coach Tom Taylor, Ryan Weingart, Byron Rivas, Eddie Rogers and coach Chris Golden show off awards they won, including the Suffolk County Soccer Officials Sportsmanship Award.

COURTESY PHOTO | From left, junior varsity coach Tom Taylor, Ryan Weingart, Byron Rivas, Eddie Rogers and coach Chris Golden show off awards Greenport/Shelter Island won, including the Suffolk County Soccer Officials Sportsmanship Award.

09/04/13 10:00am
09/04/2013 10:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski and his teammates celebrating following their 5-4 victory over Spackenkill in a Southeast Region final.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski and his teammates celebrating following their 5-4 victory over Spackenkill in a Southeast Region final.

PREVIEW

Any time a Long Island high school boys soccer team takes some time off from school in November and boards a coach bus to head upstate, it’s a great season.

And so, 2012 was just that for Mattituck (16-4-1). The defending Suffolk County League VII champion won its 15th sectional title and reached the New York State final four for at least the sixth time, according to coach Mat Litchhult. Mattituck’s wild ride came to an end with a 3-1 loss to Livonia in the state Class B semifinals. (Livonia was later declared a co-champion with Ichabod Crane after those teams played to a goalless draw in the final.) Livonia coach Ray Maxwell said Mattituck was “as good as we’ve seen.”

The memory of that magical playoff run by Mattituck lingers.

“I think that is a driving force for these guys,” Litchhult said of his players. They want to get back there.”

As Litchhult sees it, for all their youth, there is no reason why the Tuckers couldn’t mount a similar campaign this year. The talent is there, starting with Kaan Ilgin, a junior striker from Turkey who scored 13 goals and made the all-conference team last year. Another junior striker, Mario Arreola, was a 7-goal scorer. He was an all-league player along with goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski, who is going into his senior season.

Twin brothers James Hayes and Paul Hayes, both juniors, were starters last year along with junior outside back Walter Jacob. James Hayes plays in center midfield and Paul Hayes is a central defender.

Kevin Williams, a junior who will play center back, saw a lot of playing time and produced 5 goals.

Outside midfielder Oscar Puluc, center midfielder Oswaldo Aldaz and striker Joe Tardif also bring varsity experience.

New to the team are: defender Mike O’Rourke, midfielder Kevin Diffley, midfielder Erik Schwartz, midfielder Jack DiGregorio, goalkeeper Nick Vitolano, midfielder Matt Krauza, defender Andrew Cushman, goalkeeper Ben Knowles, defender Matt Carter, midfielder Ryan Foster, striker Brian Doherty, defender Dan Parks, midfielder John Batuello, defender Dan Fedun and defender Connor Almberg.

Twenty of the team’s 25 players are juniors, three are sophomores and two are seniors.

“For a young squad, we have a lot of experience,” Litchhult said. “Some of these juniors have been in two county championship games already.”

“I think they’re a motivated bunch,” he continued. “I think they know we have some talent.”

And depth, too. “I think we have some guys coming off the bench who could be starters on other teams,” said Litchhult.

Litchhult said he is not sure who the captain will be, and whether that will be determined for the entire season or on a game-by-game basis. “They’re not really a rah-rah-type of team,” he said. “They’re not really a lot of guys yelling and screaming.”

Then again, the Tuckers would be content to let their play do the talking for them.

“I think their potential is unlimited,” Litchhult said. “They can do whatever they want this year.”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Will Richter playing against Port Jefferson, which was responsible for three of Southold's five losses last season.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Will Richter playing against Port Jefferson, which was responsible for three of Southold’s five losses last season.

One thing looks certain for this coming season: Southold (13-5) will not have to worry about Port Jefferson.

For the third year in a row, Southold’s season ended with a playoff loss to Port Jefferson in 2012. It was the second straight year in which that loss came in a Suffolk County Class C final. Port Jefferson was responsible for three of Southold’s five losses last year.

But Port Jefferson, which has won state championships the past two years, has been bumped up to Class B, is no longer in Southold’s league and not on Southold’s schedule this year. That means there are no Port Jefferson-Southold matchups, which have become notoriously physical and intense, in the works for 2013.

It could be seen as an opportunity for Southold to contend for League VIII and Suffolk Class C titles with the likes of Pierson/Bridgehampton and The Stony Brook School.

“I think we are contenders,” said Andrew Sadowski, who will enter his 19th season as Southold’s coach with a 221-101-16 (.654) career record. “If we continue to play hard and work hard, we should be right in the mix.”

The First Settlers will sorely miss Evan Miller, a prolific scorer who produced 30 goals in his senior season. That will mean a change in the balance of goal production.

“I think there’s going to be an even balance of goal scorers,” Sadowski said. “We’re going to need it from everybody.”

At the same time, he said, there is no need to be overly concerned about goal scoring. “There are several players who will score,” he said.

Senior midfielders Drew Sacher and Will Richter should be among them. Seven of the team’s eight returning players were starters last year, including junior midfielder Zach Ellis, junior defender Ryan DiGregorio, junior midfielder Shayne Johnson, senior midfielder/defender Brian Hallock and senior Kenji Fujita, who has moved from goalkeeper to the field as a midfielder or a forward. Michael Shade, a senior midfielder/defender, is the other returning player.

With Fujita’s move to the field, John Charles Funke, a junior who played for the junior varsity team last year, is the No. 1 goalkeeper. Also new to the team are: defender Kevin McGough, midfielder/defender Jose Membrano, forward Dean Albergo, forward/midfielder Joe Worysz, defender Jack Dunne and defender Chris Bucci.

Sadowski said several players can play multiple positions, so he is mixing and matching to see what works best. “I think collectively as an entire group, they’re settling into their roles,” he said.

“We’re getting there, I think,” he added. “We just have to get there by next Saturday” for the season-opening game at Hampton Bays.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Austin Hooks, left, and Ryan Weingart account for the bulk of Greenport/Shelter Island's varsity experience.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Austin Hooks, left, and Ryan Weingart account for the bulk of Greenport/Shelter Island’s varsity experience.

A three-word sentence by Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden pretty much said it all: “We’re starting inexperience.”

He isn’t kidding or exaggerating, either.

Aside from a pair of three-year varsity players, seniors Austin Hooks and Ryan Weingart, the Porters (6-9-2) don’t have much in the way of veterans. Charlie Binder and Eddie Rogers, both senior midfielders, are back. Two juniors, goalkeeper Alex Perez and defender Nick Droskoski, played sparingly. Two sophomores, forward Bryon Rivas and defender Angel Colon, saw some time.

And that’s pretty much it. It adds up to the most inexperienced team Golden has had in his seven years as the Porters’ coach. About two-thirds of the players on the varsity and junior varsity teams combined are freshmen or sophomores.

“Long-term, it’s simple, to develop the players and give them the experience they need,” said Golden, whose career record with the Porters is 42-53-8 (.408).

This affords opportunities for defender Justin Bracken, midfielder Eduardo Sanchez, midfielder Chris Sponza and defender Ben Bracken (Justin’s cousin) to make their mark.

Golden said it is important for his players to be comfortable playing more than one position. “There’s going to be a lot of interchangeable parts,” he said. “These kids have to be knowledgeable and have the ability to play everywhere and anywhere.”

With Hooks moving out of goal, the goalkeeping job is being competed for by Perez and Richard Torres. How will the 6-foot-3 Hooks fare in the field?

“He’s going to have moments of brilliance,” Golden said, “and moments when you probably shake your head.”

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08/27/13 9:54pm
08/27/2013 9:54 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island's four-year varsity starter, Ryan Weingart, is admired and valued for his work ethic.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s four-year varsity starter, Ryan Weingart, is admired and valued for his work ethic.

In terms of a high school soccer player, Ryan Weingart could be referred to as “old reliable.”

The “old” part would be a reference to the fact that he is a senior and the longest-serving player on a young Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer team. As for “reliable,” well, Weingart has been nothing if not reliable for the Porters.

Weingart, the only remaining player from the 2010 team, can be relied upon to do his job, do it well, and do it from start to finish. If anyone understands the value of effort, it’s Weingart. He believes that it was his effort that earned him a place on the varsity team as a freshman and elevated him immediately to a starting position.

“I know what I’m going to get from Ryan,” Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden said. “Ryan’s going to give me everything he has. That kid, there’s no regrets. At the end of the day, we walk off that field, ‘I played the best I can play.’ I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

The Porters, who began preseason practice on Monday, have been dramatically revamped. They lost six starters from last year’s 6-9-2 team that reached the Suffolk County Class C semifinals, but they really lost more than that.

“Really, what we lost was a lot of experience, kids who had played three-plus years,” said Golden.

Of the 26 players who reported to the team by Tuesday, Golden estimated that 15 of them are freshmen or sophomores. Six are seniors and two are juniors. That is a young group.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Hooks has been moved out of goal to play in the field.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Hooks has been moved out of goal to play in the field.

“This is going to be a different year,” Golden said. “We will start freshmen this year.”

Meanwhile, the leadership mantle has been handed to Weingart and Austin Hooks, a senior who has been moved from goalkeeper to striker in the hope that his 6-foot-3 frame will help him head in some goals.

Hooks had played in the field when he was in junior high school before being moved to goal for the junior varsity team. Alex Perez and Richard Torres, two sophomores who played for the junior varsity team last year, are contending for the starting goalkeeper job.

Charlie Binder, a senior outside midfielder from Shelter Island, has starting experience, as does senior midfielder Eddie Rogers and two sophomores, forward Bryon Rivas and defender Angel Colon.

“We’re not going to have a bunch of skill guys,” Weingart said, “but we are going to have a bunch of hard workers, and I like that.”

The versatile Weingart will most likely be found playing midfield, but he can play anywhere on the field.

“I’m going to be moving around a lot this year,” he said. “I can expect that, and I’m ready for it. I was made to play.”

He isn’t kidding.

Golden called Weingart a “minutes-eater” who works hard. “He runs the same way in the first minute as he does in the 80th minute,” said Golden.

Weingart has started every varsity game that he has played in. He missed a few games last season after breaking his nose, but even that didn’t keep him off the field for long. During a game late in the season, Weingart vomited on the field, yet kept playing.

“That’s just who I am. I’ll play no matter what,” he said. “I have to. It’s just how I was raised.”

Of course, with all those minutes comes supreme effort, and that is what Golden values most.

“His key quality for this team is his work ethic,” the coach said. “He’s a kid that what he doesn’t have skill-wise, he makes up with hustle, determination and everything else.”

Hooks can attest to that, saying Weingart probably has “the biggest heart on this team. He’s a great player. He never stops hustling.”

One thing Weingart hasn’t done is pick up a lot in the way of statistics. He figures he had an assist or two last season, but he has never scored a goal for the Porters, something he would like to rectify this year. Then again, finishing wasn’t in his job description before.

“I haven’t taken many shots,” he said. “I had so many goal scorers on my previous teams that I wasn’t really the guy to go out there and shoot.”

Surveying new faces on the field during Tuesday’s practice, Weingart said: “I do feel old. It’s a totally different experience. It looks like Greenport has a bright future ahead of it, so that’s good.”

As for him, he said: “It’s a whole new role, a whole new leadership position, whole new players.”

Fortunately for the Porters, though, they have the same old Weingart. Old reliable.

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11/06/12 12:19pm
11/06/2012 12:19 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s Erick Ramirez and Southold’s Benjamin Glew in an aerial duel earlier this season. Both teams will be teaming up in the playoffs to host a charity drive to collect items for hurricane victims.

The three local boys soccer teams have teamed up to host a charity drive for hurricane victims as part of their first-round playoff games scheduled for Wednesday.

Greenport/Shelter Island faces Southold at Southold High School in a Class C semifinal at 2 p.m. and top-seeded Mattituck hosts Southampton in Class B at the same time. Fans attending both games are being asked to bring items such as clothing, canned foods, blankets and toilet paper for those who have been impacted by the hurricane.

“That’s what’s great about sports, it’s something that can really bring people together,” said Southold athletic director Joe Braico.

If the impending Nor’easter forces the games to be pushed back, the charity drive will go on whenever the game is made up.

10/29/12 11:47am
10/29/2012 11:47 AM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Walter Jacob of Mattituck kicking the ball before Southampton’s Stefan Djurasic could get a foot on it.

The North Fork’s three high school boys soccer teams are all scheduled to kick off the playoffs on Wednesday.

Mattituck (12-3-1), the League VII champion, earned the top seed in Suffolk County Class B and the right to host No. 4 Southampton (10-6) in a semifinal. During the regular season, the Tuckers defeated Southampton twice, 4-1 and 1-0. Mattituck won five of its last six games, and Southampton has taken three of its last four.

The other semifinal will pit No. 3 Hampton Bays (10-5-1) against No. 2 Center Moriches (12-4).

In the Class C semifinals, No. 3 Greenport/Shelter Island (6-8-2) is matched against No. 2 Southold (12-4), which won both regular-season meetings between the teams, 1-0 and 3-0. Southold closed out the regular season by winning seven of its last eight matches, the sole loss coming to defending state champion Port Jefferson.

Top-seeded Port Jefferson (15-0), the League VIII champion, will host No. 4 Pierson/Bridgehampton (7-8-1) in the other semifinal.

All of the semifinal games will start at 2:30 p.m.

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10/18/12 7:29pm
10/18/2012 7:29 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s Erick Ramirez and Southold’s Benjamin Glew in an aerial duel.

FIRST SETTLERS 3, PORTERS 0

Just in case there was any misunderstanding, Evan Miller showed that there is quality to go with the quantity of his goal production. That quantity is sizable, too.

With the two goals Miller bagged for the Southold boys soccer team on Thursday, the senior forward raised his season total to 24, which is remarkable enough, coming from 14 games. But it was Goal No. 23 for Miller — his first in Southold’s 3-0 defeat of visiting Greenport/Shelter Island — that really caused jaws to drop in amazement.

Drew Sacher initiated the sequence, supplying a ball on the right side for Ryan DiGregorio. DiGregorio, in turn, pushed a centering pass toward Miller, a supremely talented player who is full of surprises. Miller allowed the pass to run between his legs before he deftly used the heel of his right foot to direct the ball inside the left goalpost. The goal, which came 94 seconds into the second half, was the product of finesse and ingenuity, the sort of goal one doesn’t see every day.

“That was something crazy,” marveled Greenport/Shelter Island right back Angel Colon.

“Great goal,” Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden said. “You got to tip your hat to that type of finish.”

Even for a player of Miller’s ability, it was a special goal. He said he may have scored on a back heel once before for a club team. “That’s the first back heel for Southold,” he said.

While Southold coach Andrew Sadowski said he has seen Miller score even better goals than that one, he could appreciate the talent behind it. “I would attribute that type of a goal to a player that can smell the goal no matter where he is,” said Sadowski.

The win was the sixth in a row for Southold (11-3, 9-1 Suffolk County League VIII), which has outscored opponents by 23-4 during the winning streak and has pumped in 16 goals in three games.

“I’m very pleased with the goal production,” Sadowski said, “and most of the goals that we’ve been scoring are quality goals with very good team play.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Drew Sacher of Southold holding off Greenport/Shelter Island’s Nick Droskoski before firing in a right-footed shot for his 12th goal of the season in the 46th minute.

Ever since a 4-0 loss to Port Jefferson on Oct. 1, October has been kind to Southold. Sadowski moved some players around, and the First Settlers responded in a positive fashion.

“We were a little shaken up after that [loss to Port Jefferson], so we wanted to get back on our feet,” Miller said. “We couldn’t have done a better job, to be honest with you. We recuperated.”

Overshadowed somewhat by Miller’s goal scoring has been the play of Sacher, a junior forward who didn’t have a bad day himself on Thursday. Sacher was involved in all three Southold goals, including the one he scored himself in the 46th minute from an assist by Benjamin Glew. It was Sacher’s 12th goal of the season.

Sacher also assisted on the third goal, which Miller slammed in with 2:26 left in the game.

“They’re an excellent team,” Colon said. “They finish really well. I think we played with a lot of heart, a lot of intensity. Towards the end we kind of broke down. It’s something we have to work on.”

Kenji Fujita made five saves for his seventh shutout of the season. The best of those stops was a diving parry of a fierce blast by Erick Ramirez in the first half. It was a big save.

“Unfortunately, we’re the type of team that if we get the first goal, that helps us with our momentum,” Golden said. “So, we really need the first goal, and we had a couple of chances, and then we get frustrated a little bit if the ball doesn’t go into the net, and then we start to press and press.”

It was the fourth game in a row without a win for Greenport/Shelter Island (4-8-2, 4-4-2). The Porters need a win or two ties from their remaining two regular-season games against Pierson/Bridgehampton and The Ross School in order to secure their fourth playoff berth in six years.

Southold, which last won the league title three years ago, is chasing first-place Port Jefferson, the defending New York State Class C champion, for the league crown. Even without one of their senior captains, Rob Melly, who scored in a 1-0 win over Greenport/Shelter Island earlier in the season but was absent because of illness on Thursday, the First Settlers looked sharp in the rematch between the two rivals, who are based only eight miles from each other.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Sadowski.

Miller was his usual active self, taking seven shots, connecting on 9 of 13 passes and touching the ball 31 times. But it was one touch more than any other, the back-heel flick, that stands as the highlight of the game.

Said Miller, “Those are fun.”

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10/16/12 8:14pm
10/16/2012 8:14 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s Nick Droskoski lining up a kick that Smithtown Christian’s Charles Bellini tries to block.

KNIGHTS 0, PORTERS 0 (OT)

The old saying states that ties are like kissing your sister. Sometimes, though, a tie isn’t a bad thing, as both the Smithtown Christian and the Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer teams would readily attest following their goalless draw on Tuesday.

In one sense, both sides may have felt like winners as they walked off Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. At least it wasn’t a loss, and it didn’t hurt the playoff prospects for either side. In this case, a tie was virtually as good as a win.

Both coaches, Pat Nieto of Smithtown Christian and Chris Golden of Greenport/Shelter Island, indicated that they weren’t disappointed with the result of the Suffolk County League VIII match.

“This is in our favor,” Nieto said. “A tie works. We’ll take it.”

Golden pointed out that one win from Greenport/Shelter Island’s final three regular-season games would bring the Porters (4-7-2, 4-3-2) their fourth playoff berth in six years.

Through 100 minutes of soccer (including 20 minutes of golden-goal overtime), the game offered excitement, shots, saves — just about everything except a goal, although there were chances aplenty. Both teams took 20 shots each. Not all soccer games are going to have goals, and this was one that didn’t.

“Scoring goals is funny,” Golden said. “Sometimes you score goals in bunches, and other times it’s really hard to do.”

Greenport/Shelter Island can be grateful for the efforts of its goalkeeper, Austin Hooks, who put his 6-foot-2 frame to good use. Hooks made six saves for his second shutout of the season. The biggest of those saves came in overtime when the junior darted off his goalline to block a dangerous shot by Jesse Eyoma.

“He’s come up with a big save or two every game that we need it, which is why we’re above water,” said Golden.

Hooks received help from a defense that featured sweeper Jesus Duran, left back Matt Dibble, right back Nick Droskoski and holding midfielder Eddie Rogers, who was applauded by Golden for his play in what the coach said was Rogers’ first “real full-game varsity experience.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Matt Dibble of Greenport/Shelter Island rising above Smithtown Christian’s Ron Linsalato for a head ball.

In the other goal, George Flores was kept busy with eight saves for Smithtown Christian (4-5-1, 4-4-1).

After a fairly quiet first half in which Erick Ramirez took all six of Greenport/Shelter Island’s shots up to that point (Ramirez finished with 10 shots and 62 touches), the number of serious scoring chances picked up. A long punt by Hooks bounced at the top of the Smithtown Christian penalty area and Greenport/Shelter Island’s Bryon Rivas got a foot to the ball, only to send it wide of the mark. A Ramirez pass found Camilo Torres with only Flores to beat, but the shot ended up in the side netting after a slight deflection. Charles Bellini almost put Smithtown Christian on the scoreboard, lining a blazing shot that barely cleared the crossbar.

Things got even more interesting in overtime. Torres pulled a shot from the goalmouth wide. Smithtown Christian’s Brandon Miller sprayed a shot that just missed the target. Another Smithtown Christian player, Nikita Grob, misfired on a golden chance. Then, in the final minutes, Smithtown Christian defender Giovanni Cervini made a game-saving goal-line clearance during a melee in front of the Knights’ goal.

Although Tuesday’s tie didn’t bother Golden, what he perceived as a lackluster performance by his team did.

“Obviously, there was a lack of effort and we were very lethargic, not everyone, but enough people that it was like we were slogging through mud,” he said. “We couldn’t get any traction. We couldn’t get any rhythm. We didn’t get a feel for the game. We really just didn’t get on track. We were spinning our tires. We were stuck in the mud.”

Dibble, one of the team’s three captains, said Greenport/Shelter Island’s play was “not what it should have been. We did not give full effort as a team. Some people did, some people didn’t.”

What was lacking?

“Intensity and heart,” Dibble answered. “We just didn’t want it like a Southold game or a Port Jeff game or any other game we played.”

The Porters might have felt fortunate to come away with a tie against a team it had beaten, 3-0, last month in Smithtown.

“It was an off game for us,” Hooks said. “We didn’t play a hundred percent, and we really needed to because they were giving 110 [percent] out there.”

Greenport/Shelter Island midfielder Omar Machado left the game with a shoulder injury after taking a hard fall to the ground from a collision. The Porters, who don’t have much depth to begin with, were already without the services of defender/midfielder Ryan Weingart because of a broken nose.

When it was suggested that perhaps fatigue was a factor in Greenport/Shelter Island’s play, Golden replied, “I don’t want to make any excuses.” He added: “We try to build in days off and time off. It’s a long season and you got to work through it. You got to play the games.”

And hope the goals will come.

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09/11/12 7:11pm
09/11/2012 7:11 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Kaan Ilgin, chasing after the ball with Greenport/Shelter Island’s Bryant Rivas, had one goal and three assists in the non-league game.

TUCKERS 5, PORTERS 0

In Mattituck these days, the Turkish word for “goal” is “Kaan” — as in Kaan Ilgin.

Ilgin, who is from Turkey, was involved in all but one goal on Tuesday, scoring one and assisting on three others as League VII team Mattituck marked its home opener by running through League VIII side Greenport/Shelter Island, 5-0, in a non-league game.

Ilgin, a sophomore striker in his second year as a starter for the Tuckers, did not speak English before moving to the United States a few years ago. Now he speaks English quite well, and his soccer, well, that speaks for itself.

Asked what type of a player he is, Ilgin replied, “Cristiano Ronaldo,” referring to the Portuguese star who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid.

“I can score goals,” Ilgin said. “That’s my job, to score goals.”

And he’s not bad at setting them up, either.

“Tremendous skill,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “He worked really hard today. He set up a lot of plays. He probably could have had three goals and three assists, but we’ll settle for the one goal and three assists.”

Ilgin worked a give-and-go to perfection with David Burkhardt for Mattituck’s first goal in the 18th minute.

The underdog Porters had only two substitutes available and hung in there for a while, but then they became visibly tired during the later stages of the match.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ryan Weingart of Greenport/Shelter Island trying to take the ball away from Mattituck’s David Burkhardt.

The score remained 1-0 until the 61st minute when Ilgin curled a corner kick that Ryan Finger headed home. It was only 34 seconds later when Ilgin, as if to show that he can finish as well as set up, nabbed his first goal of the season, tapping in a ball that Walter Jacob directed his way.

“It was 65 or 70 minutes of good soccer,” Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden said. “We just ran out of gas.”

Chris Baglivi made it 4-0 in the 66th minute, heading down a right-wing service from Stephen Urwand before the ball trickled across the goal line.

It was Ilgin’s passing skill that made a difference again when he set up Kevin Williams for the final goal with 75 seconds left in the game. For Ilgin, it was his fourth assist in two games. He had assisted on Burkhardt’s goal in a 2-1 loss to East Hampton on Friday.

Goalkeepers Stephen Ostrowski and Casey Grathwohl made one save apiece to combine for the save. Mattituck (1-1) outshot Greenport/Shelter Island (0-2) by 28-6.

The active Ilgin took a game-high seven shots, putting three of them on target. He was unfortunate not to have scored in the 26th minute when his header off a Burkhardt cross bounced off the top of the crossbar.

Mattituck had other close chances as well. James Hayes pounded a hard shot off goalkeeper Angel Colon (nine saves). A left-footed effort by Burkhardt forced a fine one-handed save by Colon. Mario Arreola slammed a shot off the left goalpost.

“They had a lot of chances,” said Greenport/Shelter Island central defender Erick Ramirez, who was kept busy on the back line along with fellow defenders Nick Droskoski, Jesus Duran and Bryant Rivas.

Young, inexperienced and shorthanded. That was the rough mix the Porters had to deal with. With only two substitutes on the bench, many of the Porters played the entire 80 minutes.

“Today was a good game, but it was a hard game,” said Ramirez.

The Porters were already missing defender/forward Matt Dibble to a concussion. Ryan Weingart, a midfielder/defender, played with a bad quadricep, and Duran’s ankle was hurting him, said Golden.

Golden hopes to have Dibble back by the end of next week, and he expects to add a couple of more players to the team to help out.

The Tuckers looked good. Burkhardt was a big help in center midfield, getting 44 touches on the ball, completing 17 of 29 passes and putting three of his six shots on goal.

“We play some of the nicest soccer at times,” Litchhult said. “I thought our ball movement today at times was excellent.”

A little Turkish flavor didn’t hurt.

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09/06/12 12:00pm
09/06/2012 12:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Jubilant Mattituck players celebrated after winning the team’s second straight Suffolk County Class B championship last year.

Goal scoring is something just about every high school boys soccer coach worries about every now and then. What coach hasn’t wondered on occasion, “Where will the goals come from?”

Mat Litchhult may be asking himself the same question these days. Last year his Mattituck team produced scoring opportunities aplenty, but sometimes ran into difficulty exchanging those chances for goals. Fortunately for the Tuckers, they didn’t need many goals. They had a tight defense that conceded 22 goals in 19 games, helping Mattituck (11-7-1 last year) to a second straight Suffolk County Class B championship. The Tuckers lost, 1-0, to Wheatley in sudden-victory overtime of the Long Island final.

But Mattituck has lost its entire starting defense from 2011 and Litchhult is hoping for a more efficient offense this year.

“It was such a weird year for us,” said Litchhult, who takes a 131-41-13 (.708) record into his 11th season. “We never had that kind of regular season. It was such a roller coaster regular season. There were a lot of ups and downs. There were times when we played really nice soccer and created chances offensively, but we really couldn’t score.”

Litchhult knows full well how uneasy things can get when a team controls possession yet fails to crack the opposing defense as time winds down. “That tension mounts,” he said. “Once you break the ice, it becomes easier.”

Mattituck hasn’t had a pure goal scorer in the past couple of years, but it does have senior midfielder David Burkhardt, an all-county player in his third year as a varsity starter. “If we can get double digits from him, I think that would help out,” said Litchhult.

Seventeen returning players, including eight who started last year, also help. Litchhult said Burkhardt is the only one of his players who has won a position.

The Tuckers can be encouraged that they have skillful players such as senior forward Stephen Urwand, sophomore midfielder/forward Kevin Williams and sophomore forward Mario Arreola, who can help in the offensive third of the field. “I think we have some of the better attacking talent that we’ve had in a long time,” said Litchhult.

They are all returning starters along with senior defenders Ryan Finger and Evan Neighley, senior midfielder/defender Tyler Connell and sophomore midfielder Kaan Ilgin.

Further varsity experience is provided by defenders Connor Stumpf and Kevin Izzo; twins James and Paul Hayes, who can play defense or midfield; midfielders Dan Salice, Nick Sisino, Doug Beebe and Emre Ilgin; and forward Chris Baglivi.

Stephen Ostrowski, a junior, and K. C. Grathwohl, a senior, are competing for the starting goalkeeper position.

Among the new additions are strikers Oscar Puluc and Craig Birkmier, and defender/midfielder Walter Jacob.

“I think they all have the desire and the love just to play soccer,” Litchhult said. “They want to be out there every day.”

Mattituck has never won three county titles in a row during Litchhult’s time as coach. Being able to regularly put the ball in the net would go a long way toward achieving that end.

“I think we’re going to have some offensive chances,” Litchhult said. “That being said, are those chances going to turn into goals?”

That is the question that remains to be answered.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Southold senior center midfielder Evan Miller, an all-state player, scored 17 goals last season.

The Suffolk Class C final will not be played until Nov. 3, but one can already see the writing on the wall. Barring any upsets or unforeseen events, it appears likely that another showdown between rivals Southold and Port Jefferson will decide the county championship.

In last year’s county final, a powerful Port Jefferson team romped over Southold, 3-0. For Port Jefferson, it was its third straight county title and a step on the road to its first state championship. For Southold, the loss in the county final marked the start of its offseason and the process of working its way back to the county stage.

A postseason rematch may be in the works. The two League VIII teams will see each other twice during the regular season. Port Jefferson remains the loaded team that outscored Southold, 12-1, in the three games the teams played last fall. It sounds like the First Settlers have their work cut out for them.

“As long as we’re competitive and give ourselves a chance, that’s all we can really ask,” said Southold coach Andrew Sadowski, whose 18-year record is 208-96-16 (.650).

Southold (9-7-2) has a big plus in the form of Evan Miller. The senior midfielder, an all-state player entering his fourth varsity season, will undoubtedly be in the center of the action. Sadowski rates his 17-goal scorer from last year among the best players he has coached.

“I think it helps to have anyone of that caliber on your team,” the coach said. “But I think the biggest concern you have to have is that the rest of your teammates don’t end up ball-watching. Evan gets his teammates involved. He wants them involved. He wants to be successful.”

Miller has talented teammates to work with, too, such as senior midfielder Sean O’Donnell and junior midfielder Will Richter. O’Donnell was an all-conference selection last year and Richter was an all-league choice.

Prominent roles will be played by senior defender Rob Melley, junior midfielders Drew Sacher and Brian Hallock, and sophomore midfielder Zachary Ellis. Southold also received an unexpected plus with the transfer of Bereket Watts from Bishop McGann-Mercy. Watts, a sophomore midfielder, already has three varsity seasons under his belt.

Southold finds itself in the enviable position of having two reliable goalkeepers in senior Preston Jolliver and junior Kenji Fujita. Jolliver started last season in goal before a knee injury forced him to sit out most of the season, giving Fujita time between the goalposts. Sadowski said the two goalies are so even that the question of who plays on a given day may come down to which one is playing better at the time.

Among the returning players are defenders Rommel Reyes and Ben Glue and midfielders Muhammit Ilgin and Cole Hiney. Michael Shade, a midfielder, and Ryan DiGregorio, a defender, are new to the team.

“I’m pleased with their work rate as a team,” Sadowski said of his players. “They motivate each other, they push each other, and I think they have a lot of respect for each other.”

To ready itself for Port Jefferson and the rest of League VIII, Southold has a challenging non-league schedule that includes Southampton, Center Moriches and Hampton Bays.

“I think that we’re [going to be] competitive in every game,” Sadowski said. “I think that’s the first part of being successful.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island has a varsity team, but not a lot of players.

Player numbers are down for Greenport/Shelter Island (7-8-2) this year, so much so that one might have wondered if the Porters would be able to field a varsity team this year.

No need to worry on that front. Greenport/Shelter Island has a varsity team, just not a lot of players on it.

“We’re going to be thin on numbers,” said coach Chris Golden.
Golden expects the Porters to have no more than 13 players, but he said, “We’ll make it work.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. For one thing, the Porters have next to no room for injuries.

With the low numbers comes uncertainty. The team has only five returning players, but senior forward/midfielder Camilo Torres (9 goals, 7 assists), junior all-around player Erick Ramirez, senior defender Jesus Duran, junior midfielder Ryan Weingart and senior defender/forward Matt Dibble were all starters last year. Torres, a five-year varsity player, was an all-county pick last year, and Ramirez made the all-league team.

The returning players will not get much rest. “Those guys are going to be expected to play, to log serious minutes,” said Golden, who goes into his sixth year as the team’s coach with a 36-44-6 (.419) record.

Angel Colon, a sophomore defender who played in a few games last year, and Bryant Rivas, a senior midfielder who played sparingly last year, will have bigger roles this year. Rivas’ younger brother, freshman forward Bryron Rivas, is also on the team as is junior midfielder Eddie Rogers. Omar Machado, a junior, will play in goal. One Shelter Islander may make the team, junior midfielder Charlie Binder.

“We have some nice talent, but we’re also incorporating a lot of new players,” Golden said. “Sometimes that works out well and sometimes that doesn’t.”

Golden is envisioning a 4-4-2 formation, with Dibble and Bryron Rivas up top, and Torres and Ramirez in the midfield.

“Camilo’s a workhorse out there,” Golden said. “He’s been very nurturing with the younger players, a lot of on-the-field talk. You have to instill confidence in these younger players.”

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08/28/12 8:00am
08/28/2012 8:00 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Camilo Torres, a five-year varsity veteran, led Greenport/Shelter Island in goals and assists last season.

Chris Golden compared the ups and downs that a high school boys soccer team experiences to a roller-coaster ride. “Last year that was a great ride, a lot of fun, a lot of thrills, a lot of excitement,” the Greenport/Shelter Island coach said. “In other years, sometimes the ride is just not that thrilling.”

So, what is this season to bring the Porters?

That is the point. One never can really say for sure, but the mystery this year may be even greater than ever for Golden.

Sitting at a desk in his team’s locker room in the Greenport High School basement a little less than an hour before the team’s first preseason practice on Monday afternoon, Golden might have felt like a blind man walking into a dark room. He didn’t know what to expect beyond the significant player turnover from last year’s team.

In his six years as the team’s coach, Golden said, “This is probably the biggest degree of uncertainty just in terms of how many kids are we going to have, and in terms of who is going to play where.”

Beyond the team’s four returning players, there are so many unknowns. Camilo Torres, an all-county senior forward/midfielder, and Erick Ramirez, an all-league junior who can play any field position, were starters as were senior defender Jesus Duran and junior midfielder Ryan Weingart. The trick for Golden will be finding a way to make best use of those players while at the same time finding replacements for the seven vacated starting positions.

“We don’t know what to expect from this, but we’re hoping for the best,” said Weingart.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ryan Weingart, a junior midfielder, is one of Greenport/Shelter Island’s four returning players.

The turnover is substantial. Just look at some of the players the Porters have lost:

Edwin Arias. Gone.

Julio Ayala. Gone.

Sean Charters. Gone.

Jimmy Read. Gone.

Michael Reed. Gone.

“Those are key players,” Torres said. “Our goalie [Reed] we lost. It’s going to be very tough. We just have to make the best out of what we have. That’s always the case here in Greenport.”

That’s the Porters’ challenge for this year. Their challenge in 2011 was bouncing back from a 2-14 season the year before. And they did, going 7-8-2, finishing second in League VIII and hosting a home playoff game, a 4-2 loss to Southold in a Suffolk County Class C semifinal.

It was a season that Weingart, for one, cherished. “In all the years I’ve been playing, that was my favorite year by far,” he said. “We were a family. We weren’t a team, we were a family. It was great.”

But that family has been broken up, shattered even. Putting things back together may not be easy.

Sixteen players turned out for the Porters’ first practice, and Golden’s immediate concern was having enough players for his varsity team and coach Tom Taylor’s junior varsity team.

“We want to have a varsity and we want to have a JV because that allows kids to play and there is a feeder program,” Golden said. Without a junior varsity team, he said, “We’d lose a whole generation of kids.”

The Porters are relying tremendously on their returning players, and that includes Torres, a five-year varsity veteran who was 4 years old when he first started kicking a soccer ball. He had played with his cousin, Diego Acero, and his brother, Juan Torres, both of whom are former Porters players.

Camilo Torres was an integral part of Greenport/Shelter Island’s offense last year, leading the team in both goals and assists. Golden said Torres will do a lot and not come off the field.

“Where we’ve seen the greatest growth in him is in his work rate in practice and in games where he will give 100 percent from the beginning to the end,” Golden said. “That’s the sign of a very good player.”

Torres described himself as a physical player who plays with determination. “If I lose the ball, I want to get it back,” he said. “I’m not going to give up.”

Injuries have impacted Torres. Most recently, he twice sprained his left ankle while playing for a club team over a two-month period this past spring. Asked on Monday how he was feeling, he replied, “I’m not a hundred percent, but I can deal with it.”

Torres said he is up to the task of having greater responsibility placed on his shoulders. The question is, will the Porters be up to the challenge they face as a team?

“We’ll see how it goes,” Torres said. “Right now we’re going to see what we have, what type of roster, who shows up with contracts, who is responsible enough to have everything on track, who is fit. And from then on, we’ll figure it out.”

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