08/25/14 8:44pm
08/25/2014 8:44 PM
Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult talking to Kaan Ilgin during a water break during Monday morning's practice. Ilgin is one of 28 players in New York State to be named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's All-America Watch List. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult talking to Kaan Ilgin during a water break at Monday morning’s practice. Ilgin is one of 28 players in New York State to be named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s All-America Watch List. (Credit: Garret Meade)

After earning several individual honors following the 2013 high school boys soccer season, there is little doubt that Kaan Ilgin’s reputation precedes him as one of the most dangerous players around these days.

Without scoring a goal or creating one, playing a game and taking a competitive kick, the Mattituck High School senior forward has been awarded yet another honor and a challenge. He was named one of 28 players in New York to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s fall boys All-America Watch List. Only five players from Suffolk County and six from Long Island public schools made the list (TopDrawerSoccer covers youth, high school and college soccer). (more…)

08/04/14 11:05pm
08/04/2014 11:05 PM
Kaan Ilgin assisted on Mattituck's goal against Miller Place in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools final. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Kaan Ilgin assisted on Mattituck’s goal against Miller Place in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools final. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The unofficial mantra for the Mattituck boys soccer team at Diamond in the Pines in Coram on Monday night went something like this: Better now than in November.

Better to lose in the small schools championship game of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League on Aug. 4 than to lose in the Suffolk County Class B final on the very same field on Nov. 1. (more…)

07/15/14 12:07pm
07/15/2014 12:07 PM

Now here’s a scene you don’t necessarily see much of these days.

In the waning moments of Mattituck’s 2-0 victory over Southold in a Town of Brookhaven Boys Soccer Summer League game Monday night, First Settlers goalkeeper John Charles Funke congratulated the Tuckers defender-turned-striker Walter Jacob for scoring the insurance goal. (more…)

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.

10/30/13 7:37pm
10/30/2013 7:37 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Tuckers rejoiced following their comeback triumph over Southampton on Wednesday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Tuckers rejoiced following their comeback triumph over Southampton on Wednesday.


There’s a reason why he has been nicknamed Super Mario, and Mario Arreola demonstrated why in the final 20 minutes of Mattituck’s exciting comeback win over Southampton on Wednesday.

Arreola took the game into his own hands, actually his feet, as the senior forward struck for the equalizer midway through the second half and the game-winner with 5 minutes 28 seconds left to rally the Tuckers to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Southampton in a Suffolk County Class B boys soccer semifinal in Mattituck.

“That’s the Mario we’ve known from the summer,” Mattituck goalkeeper and co-captain Steven Ostrowski said of Arreola, whose 17 goals helped Mattituck to the Town of Brookhaven small schools summer league title. “I knew he was going to come out sooner or later. I knew he was going to put us on his back.”

And back into the Suffolk Class B final for the fourth consecutive year. The three-time defending county champion Tuckers will meet Center Moriches, a 2-1 winner over Hampton Bays, at Diamond in the Pines in Coram at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“It was a fantastic game. They guy showed a lot of grit, showed a lot of heart,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “It’s the first time we faced a lot of adversity this year, giving up a goal early. We’ve lost two games in double overtime. When you’re in double overtime, you get scored on and the game’s over. This was the first time we were down in a game all season long. It always made me a little nervous.”

But the Tuckers (14-2) found a way.

“That is the definition of Mattituck soccer,” Ostrowski said. “We will come through anything. They put us through hell. That’s what you have to face when you play a team three times. You know them and they know you. You beat them twice and they know how you beat them and they can work on that. We knew it was going to be a tough battle. And that’s an understatement.”

The Mariners (10-6-1) pressured the hosts from the opening kickoff, winning 50-50 balls and marking their foes closely. They grabbed a 2-1 halftime lead on goals by Gianluca Santacruz (12th minute) and Jesse Scanlon (34th), sandwiched around the one by Tuckers forward Kaan Ilgin (32nd).

“Our halftime speech was that we wanted to win the second half two-nil,” Litchhult said. “There was a lot of game to play.”

It took a while before the Tuckers solved goalkeeper Garrett Pike and Arreola took center stage.

“The first 60 minutes I was testing my groin,” Arreola said. “The last 20 minutes I just turned it on. I guess it’s getting better.”

First, on a give-and-go with Joe Tardif, Arreola bolted down the right flank, turned inside and powered home a 10-yard shot.

The equalizing pass actually came off the right shoe of midfielder Kevin Diffley, which Tardif was forced to wear because he had torn his right cleat in practice, and did not have another.

“They were the same brand as mine. So I ended it up putting that one on,” he said. “Hey, it worked.”

Arreola played like a player possessed. Central defender Patrick Hayes, who cleared a ball off the goal line two minutes before the equalizer, had his header saved in the 63rd minute. Arreola sent a header wide right a minute later and his shot from the right side sailed wide left in the 65th minute.

Arreola was only warming up. Right fullback Erik Schwartz sent a long ball down the right flank to the striker, who chipped Pike to the far post for a 3-2 advantage to complete the comeback in the 75th minute.

“Great pass, great finish,” Litchhult said. “The last goal was Mario from the summer. Something went on. There was a switch there. I’ve been trying to get that switch on a little earlier throughout the year.”

Immediately after the game Mattituck coach MAT LITCHHULT did not know if junior central midfielder KEVIN WILLIAMS would be available Saturday. Williams suffered a possible broken left arm in the 48th minute. He was to be operated on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping for the best-case scenario that he gets to wrap it up,” Litchhult said, “but we don’t know. It’s too early to tell.”

10/16/13 11:31pm
10/16/2013 11:31 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Oscar Puluc, right, tracking down Center Moriches' Josue Lazo-Molina.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Oscar Puluc, right, tracking down Center Moriches’ Josue Lazo-Molina.


When the Mattituck and Center Moriches boys soccer teams tussle, they usually play close, classic confrontations. Wednesday’s encounter proved to be the exception, thanks an exceptional performance by the Tuckers.

Sparked by three first-half goals, including two scores within a 31-second span, Mattituck recorded a stunning 5-0 home triumph over their archrivals.

Now, Center Moriches (10-2-1, 7-2-1 League VII) is hardly your everyday, run-of-the-mill high school team. The Red Devils are among the best among Class B teams, having won the 2009 state title.

Kaan Ilgin was credited with two goals and set up both of Mario Arreola’s scores. Kevin Williams converted a penalty kick to lift the Tuckers (11-2, 10-1) to the League VII crown in arguably one of their best performances of the season with the Suffolk County Class B semifinals looming on Oct. 30.

“It was one of our better overall performances,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “We scored some great goals. The guys played from start to finish. Center Moriches plays so hard all the time, puts you under so much pressure and the guys handled it very well. We executed a lot of things we talked about in practice. When it translates to the game, it’s nice.”

Litchhult downplayed the huge final margin.

“We can’t sit back and think we’re five goals better than Center Moriches on any given day because we’re not,” he said. “Are we a good, solid team? Yes. We have to get a little reality check, look at the game on a whole. Did we dominate possession, did we dominate chances? One hundred percent. We have to temper down the score.”

Center Moriches coach Chris O’Brien felt his team had some work to do.

“We just got beat in all aspects of the game,” he said. “It wasn’t our day. We’ve got to be better than this. This wasn’t our typical team. This certainly wasn’t our ‘A’ game. They played very well. All credit to them. They scored some beautiful goals.”

The game dramatically changed during a 31-second span. Ilgin’s hard left-wing cross resulted in the first goal with 30:48 remaining in the first half, going off defender Cameron Stankelis.

“I saw people just running to the goal and I just hit it as hard as I could,” Ilgin said. “I knew it was going to hit someone.”

Only 31 seconds later, Stankelis fouled Williams in the box. Williams converted past goalkeeper Peter Connolly and into the left corner.

Then came the first “beautiful” highlight goal with 20:56 remaining. Ilgin bolted past two midfielders and found Arreola on the left side before his teammate slotted the ball back to him for a 3-0 lead.

“That’s what we always do,” Arreola said. “We always know where we are. I don’t know how to explain it. We just know where we are.”

Litchhult believed that goal put the Tuckers over the hump.

“Three-nil makes it a game where you have a comfortable lead,” he said. “Our third goal on a counter was probably one of the best soccer goals. Unselfish between Mario and Kaan. Just a super play. That goal kind of puts the game to bed.”

After Arreola’s first goal 96 seconds into the second half, he scored a highlight-reel goal of his own with 14:32 left in the match, volleying home an Ilgin corner kick.

“He was wide open,” Ilgin said. “They didn’t mark him. Usually on the corners they don’t mark short players, so I bent it to him. Nice volley, upper 90.”

The Tuckers faced adversity when a bloodied senior keeper Steve Ostrowski was forced from the game with 6:18 left in the first half with a cut on his nose. Junior Ben Knowles came on and acquitted himself well.

“It’s a big spot for a backup keeper who doesn’t have a lot of experience to step in and take the starter’s job the rest of the game,” Litchhult said. “We always talk about next year and how he’s going to try to take over and fill Steve’s shoes, and I think he will do a great job. Today it came a little bit earlier. … He gained some good experience.”

The game ended on a somber note as Center Moriches midfielder Matt Argyropoulos suffered an apparent left knee injury with 51.1 seconds remaining.

“It looks like it’s pretty serious,” O’Brien said.

With darkness descending, the referees called the game early.

10/03/13 8:28pm
10/03/2013 8:28 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior Kevin Williams scored the Tuckers’ lone goal Thursday against Babylon.


To the casual observer, a Mattituck boys soccer game features plenty of excitement.

A team filled with youth and talent, the Tuckers can bombard teams with shots, creating many more scoring opportunities than their opponent. But turning all those opportunities into goals has been the challenge, making for more excitement in the end than coach Mat Litchhult would prefer.

Such was the case Thursday afternoon against Babylon, a team still winless on the season. The Tuckers tallied double-digit corner kicks, dominated possession and peppered Babylon’s goalkeeper with shots. Still, in the final minute, the score was merely 1-0 Mattituck, creating a tense, nerve-wracking finish.

“I’m sure the fans get a kick out of it,” Litchhult. “I’m having a heart attack.”

The Tuckers held on for a 1-0 win on their home field to maintain their place atop League VII with a 6-1 record.

Keeping a team around late in the game almost came back to bite the Tuckers when Babylon nearly scored on a header with about two minutes left. A strong throw-in from the right sideline put the ball in front of the net almost as if it was a corner kick. A Babylon player managed to sneak in amid a crowd and head the ball, forcing Mattituck goalkeeper Stephen Ostrowski to make a diving stop to his right.

Ostrowski wasn’t challenged often, but when he was in the final minutes, he proved up to the challenge.

The Tuckers scored their only goal after junior Kaan Ilgin chipped in a ball on the right side for junior Kevin Williams. Babylon’s goalkeeper came charging out, got a touch on the ball, but couldn’t corral it. Williams, between a swarm of two defenders, kept his composure to keep possession and aim a shot at the empty net.

The goal came in the 44th minute.

“I wanted to kick it the first second I was one-on-one with the goalie,” Williams said. “He actually came out and got a touch on it, but luckily it stayed in front of my feet.”

The Tuckers, 6-2 overall, bounced back from their first league loss, which came last week against Hampton Bays, 1-0.

In their last three games, which started with an impressive road win at Center Moriches, the Tuckers have managed just two goals.

“When we bust out, we’re going to bust out with like seven goals,” Litchhult said.

Mattituck returns to action Monday at Southampton. The Tuckers won the first matchup, 2-1.

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09/21/13 9:50pm
09/21/2013 9:50 PM


The Mattituck High School boys soccer team ran into a hot goalkeeper on the last full day of the summer on a sunny and windy Saturday afternoon.

Senior Ryan Blake put on a goalkeeping clinic, keeping Westhampton Beach within striking distance of the defending Suffolk County Class B champions.

But Blake proved to be only human. He could not stop every shot sent his way in what turned into a 2-0 non-league victory for the Tuckers at Carl Hansen Memorial Field in Westhampton Beach.

“Yeah, he’s human,” said junior defender Kevin Williams, who had a superb free kick denied by Blake. “He’s a first-year goalkeeper, which I heard. It’s unbelievable that he’s playing. We were coming at him really quick. Sometimes we need to settle down, relax and bring it to him slowly.”

When the Tuckers did, they scored. Junior forward Kaan Ilgin set up James Hayes’ first-half goal off his corner kick and added an insurance goal in the second half. Mattituck recorded its fourth consecutive win after a season-opening loss. The Hurricanes fell to 0-5-1.

“We’re not playing our best soccer and that could be a scary proposition,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “We controlled the match. We knocked the ball around. Their keeper [turned in] one of the best keeper performances I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Tuckers hope they will not meet a goalkeeper in Blake’s class soon again. He made 18 saves, many of high quality.

“Awesome game,” Hurricanes coach Don O’Brien told Blake, who had to run off after the match for another commitment.

The Tuckers probably had wished he could have left slightly earlier.

“The goalie was good,” said Ilgin, who was denied at least six times by Blake. “It was actually frustrating because I could have scored goals.”

Ilgin played playmaker as his corner kick was headed in by Hayes at the near right post with 16 minutes 11 seconds remaining in the opening half.

“I saw him pointing to that spot,” Ilgin said. “O.K., he was going to get it. So I just bent it there and he headed it in. Great goal.”

Mattituck pushed for a goal, but Blake had some other ideas. So did his teammates, who tried for an equalizer, which would have been devastating for the visitors.

“We talked about that,” Litchhult said. “Our back line has done a great job stabilizing us back there, keeping in good shape, limiting any kind of opportunities.”

The attack finally solved Blake from the run of play with 21:18 left in the game. Ilgin, who had been denied in and around the penalty area, decided to launch a 30-yard attempt from the right side that beat Blake.

“I took it long distance because every time I dribbled, they closed space, so I just shot,” he said.

Hungry to add to their lead, the Tuckers were awarded a 20-yard free kick from the left side. Williams, who smacked in a superb 28-yard free kick in a 2-1 win over Southampton four days earlier, tried to make it a double within a week as he fired a hard shot over the defensive wall toward the upper left corner.

“There it is,” said Litchhult, standing with O’Brien at midfield.

And there was Blake, who had been positioned at the far post, but managed to scurry across the net, leap and parry the ball away.

“How many saves? Nine? Ten?” an incredulous Litchhult asked O’Brien. “Some are ridiculous.”

Added Williams: “I didn’t expect that goalie to get anywhere near there. It’s hard for the goalie to see it past the wall. He got there quick. It was down low. It was hard for him to see. It’s hard to hit one of those shots. It’s way harder to save it.”

Williams has liked what he has seen.

“If we play as a family, we’re always going to know where everyone is going,” he said. “We’re going to anticipate what everyone is going to do because we’ve been playing with each other for years.”

09/17/13 7:23pm
09/17/2013 7:23 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southampton's Elliot LaGuardia and Mattituck's Paul Hayes in pursuit of the ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southampton’s Elliot LaGuardia and Mattituck’s Paul Hayes in pursuit of the ball.


Free-kick taking is an art, and what Kevin Williams crafted on Tuesday was a thing of beauty. At least in Mattituck eyes.

For over an hour of play in the Southampton-Mattituck boys soccer game, neither team had scored, and one began to wonder if either would before the day was over. Then, in the 64th minute, Mattituck was awarded a direct free kick 28 yards in front of the Southampton goal.

Mattituck’s free-kick responsibilities are shared by the left-footed Kaan Ilgin and Williams, who prefers his right foot. Ilgin deferred to Williams, and the junior central defender stepped up to take the kick.

What makes taking a direct free kick in such situations so tricky is that the kicker must strike the ball high enough to go over the defensive wall, yet not so high that it rises over the crossbar. At the same time, the shot must have the power and the placement to beat the goalkeeper.

Williams’ attempt had all of the above.

“I thought it was going to hit the crossbar, and in the last second it looked like it dipped a lot,” he said.

The ball flew into the net, to the right of flying goalkeeper Garrett Pike for Williams’ first goal of the young season. It was the sort of goal players dream about.

“You just can’t teach that,” Mattituck’s attacking center midfielder, James Hayes, said admiringly. “That was a great goal.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior forward Kaan Ilgin assisted on the winning goal, put 3 of his 4 shots on goal and completed 21 of 29 passes.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior forward Kaan Ilgin assisted on the winning goal, put 3 of his 4 shots on goal and completed 21 of 29 passes.

It was the first of 3 goals within a span of 3 minutes 43 seconds in the Suffolk County League VII game, leaving Mattituck with a 2-1 victory in its home opener. Hayes spotted Mattituck a 2-0 lead 2:20 after Williams’ strike.

But it was the first goal, the ice-breaker, that was the most impressive.

“I’ve seen him take shots like that in practice, and he did it again,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “You know, it’s tough to get that kind of a swerve on a ball.”

Moments after the first goal, Ilgin slid a cutting pass into the penalty area for Hayes, who then slid the ball under Pike for a 2-0 lead and Hayes’ second goal of the season.

Ilgin is a tremendously skilled player. “His technical ability on the ball is some of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Litchhult.

The junior forward had 49 touches on the ball, put 3 of his 4 shots on goal, and connected on 21 of 29 passes.

If Williams’ goal loosened things up for the Tuckers (2-1, 2-0), the second goal may have made them feel too loose, said Litchhult. “I think the 2-nothing lead hurt us a little bit because I think we relaxed and we thought the game was over.”

It wasn’t.

Southampton (2-2, 1-2) pulled itself back in the game 1:23 later when Elliot LaGuardia knocked the ball between goalkeeper Steve Ostrowski’s legs.

Four minutes into the game, Ilgin nearly set up a goal by Mario Arreola, only to see Southampton’s Tyler Wisner clear the ball.

Another close call came six minutes into the second half when Hayes passed to Oswaldo Aldaz, whose creative flick nearly reached the net before Southampton’s Kevin Dexter booted the ball to safety.

Mattituck survived a couple of threatening shots by Southampton’s Ezekiel Martinez that barely missed their target in the second half.

All in all, it was a good showing by the Tuckers.

“We strung so many passes and they couldn’t touch it,” Hayes said. “It’s just good to watch.”

Mattituck, a New York State Class B semifinalist last year, once again has plenty of talent. At the same time, the team is young. Only two of Mattituck’s 25 players are seniors, Aldaz and Ostrowski. Expectations are high.

“I’d say this is one of the best teams that Mattituck has ever had,” Hayes said. “I know we can go to states and I’m positive we can win it; it’s just a matter of the hard work we can put in like we did last year.”

An occasional goal off a set piece wouldn’t hurt, either.

Williams is the first to acknowledge that the majority of free kicks don’t find their mark, instead sailing over the crossbar, going wide or hitting the wall.

“You never really know where it’s going to go,” Williams said. “It has to be perfect. It’s more of a 1-in-10-shot chance, but I guess I got it. I hit it.”

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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.


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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