Five months after the surprise dismissal of Jeff Doroski as McGann-Mercy’s varsity football coach, the school made a splash Friday in announcing his replacement.
Five months after the surprise dismissal of Jeff Doroski as McGann-Mercy’s varsity football coach, the school made a splash Friday in announcing his replacement.
SOCCER: Summer program North Fork United Soccer Club will host a summer soccer program for children ages 4 to 11 on evenings from July 8 to Aug. 8 at the Cutchogue East Elementary School. E-mail [email protected] or call Lisa Fox at (631) 834-1685 for registration information.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Peconic Bay tournament Peconic Bay Medical Center’s Employee Activities Committee will host a beach volleyball tournament on Sept. 7 to benefit heart health. Registration will start at 8 a.m. on the day of the tournament. Tournament play will start at 9 a.m. at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays. Teams will consist of four to six players. The cost is $25 per person per team. Individual players are welcome. For more information, contact Priscilla at (631) 548-6217 or Jennifer Miglino at (631) 548-6219 before Aug. 16, 2013.
Few sports are as photogenic as soccer. Its quick pace, dramatic goals, athletic saves and crashing headers make the sport come to life in a photograph.
Suffolk Times contributing photographer Garret Meade spent much of this fall documenting the Mattituck boys soccer team’s championship campaign.
Here are some of his best photos from the season:
These are indeed trying times for the embattled Mattituck Soccer Club and club soccer in this area.
Some Mattituck players are practicing and playing in Riverhead. Some Riverhead players are practicing and playing in Laurel or Mattituck. Some Mattituck players must take two ferry rides as part of a 90-minute commute to their “home” games in East Hampton.
For the first time in its history, the Mattituck Soccer Club is not fielding a girls travel team this spring. Meanwhile, a dissident group of coaches whose teams have defected from the club have issued a call for reform.
A volatile mix of philosophical differences, a dwindling player pool, personality clashes and conflicting claims have created a boiling stew of discontent, with the Mattituck Soccer Club at the center of the controversy.
Yes, these are interesting times for club soccer on the North Fork.
The Mattituck soccer factory that once seemed to produce an endless supply of talented players for Mattituck’s school teams seems to have slowed down, dramatically so on the girls side. When it was known as the North Fork Soccer Club, the organization once had as many as 17 travel teams, enjoying the bounty of players from Riverhead to Orient from 1995 to 2000. The club’s popular summer program boasted up to nearly 500 youngsters in the late 1990s, so many that a limitation had to be placed, and no players outside the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District were admitted.
But player numbers are drying up with the influx and growth of other sports. Facing the pressure of finding enough players to field teams at the various age levels, the Mattituck Soccer Club reached a cooperative arrangement with the Riverhead Soccer Club. The two clubs now share players in order to field teams that either club might not be able to field on its own.
The announcement of tryouts last spring and plans to assign players to teams on the basis of their skill levels — a process that could split up players who have been on the same team for years — sparked a furor. Some coaches said the club leadership was, in effect, catering to elite players at the expense of the majority and breaking up teams without seeking input from the majority of parents and coaches.
“There are significant amounts of people who want to stay together with their family and friends,” said Joe Vasile-Cozzo, one of the dissident coaches, who is in charge of two girls teams, the under-15 Rapids and the under-13 Waves. “You’re forcing our kids to get involved in something which is really what they don’t want to do, which is splitting up. I’ve had kids on my teams that say, ‘If I can’t play with my friends, I’m not playing soccer,’ so we’ve lost kids out of the program.”
In opposition to this move, a group of nine Mattituck teams (including seven girls squads), comprising 140 players and 13 coaches, withdrew from the club last spring and now play under the banner of the Sag Harbor Soccer Club. Their home games are in East Hampton. Almost all those players reside in the area from Laurel to Greenport.
Just like that, the Mattituck club lost most of its travel teams and was left with five boys travel teams.
“When 140 kids and nine teams collectively have to leave, you know something is wrong,” said Henry Santacroce, an assistant coach for the Stars, an under-10 girls team that was among those that pulled out.
In case there was any confusion, a prominent posting on the home page of the Mattituck Soccer Club’s website stated, “The MSC does not have any association, nor working relationship with the Sag Harbor Soccer Club, its coaches or administrators.”
Hope remained that a rapprochement could still be reached following talks between the opposing sides, but they were since quelled when efforts by the nine teams to be allowed to play their home games at the Mattituck Soccer Club’s home fields in Laurel fell through. Some blamed the Mattituck Soccer Club for standing in the way of such an arrangement.
“This is basically a gauntlet that they put down on us,” said Vasile-Cozzo.
Members of the Mattituck club’s seven-person executive board said the question of the nine Sag Harbor teams playing in Laurel was really a Long Island Junior Soccer League issue. They said the league has a strict rule that requires teams to play in their own geographic area.
Attempts to reach Andrew Seabury, a member of the Long Island Junior Soccer League board of directors, for comment were unsuccessful before the deadline.
Dr. Amy Prager, a coach and parent, stated in a Feb. 15 letter to the Long Island Junior Soccer League that the Mattituck Soccer Club’s blocking the use of the Laurel fields by the teams that had left the club is “an outright assault against its Mattituck residents.” She wrote that the club is “not a representation of our community, and is not functioning democratically.” The club leaders, she wrote, are “putting their adult egos and team standings ahead of our children.”
What is the club’s response to the charge of critics that it is following undemocratic practices, with decisions made by the few?
“We’re a board of seven, and the board is a representation of not only coaches in the club, former coaches in the club, officers of the board,” said Bill Hayes, who has been the club’s president since 2001 and has been involved in it since its inception around 1993. “The decisions are ultimately made by the board, just as with any entity, but there is certainly a dialogue and a conversation we have with coaches meetings and conversations on the soccer field.”
Hayes added: “There are a group of coaches who left voluntarily from our club, and unfortunately for the Mattituck Soccer Club, the three or four groups of teams that left were girls teams. That’s the unfortunate dynamic. We want to keep the girls involved in our club.”
Hayes said there have been “very minimal changes in our club. When you want to make a change, you sit, you negotiate, you argue a point. We talk. You don’t say, ‘I don’t like the way you’re doing it,’ [and] you pack up, take your ball and leave. That’s not how things are done.”
On the club’s website, it states as part of its philosophy, “MSC believes youth soccer players [should] be given the opportunity to play at the highest level they can reach as an individual player, whether this be High School, State/Regional, College or even the chance to be a professional athlete.”
The club offers a developmental program for boys and girls at a beginner level, a developmental team program for players in the under-8 and under-9 age groups and a travel team program for players ages 10 to 19.
The Mattituck Soccer Club faces competition not only from other soccer organizations but also from other sports. Baseball, softball, basketball, field hockey and the newest game in town, lacrosse, have the potential to siphon players away from Mattituck’s travel soccer program.
“Over the years, the player pool has diluted,” said Scott Carter, a member of the club’s executive board. “We as a club have just been fighting to keep players at every age group.”
Joe Pfaff, an executive board member and assistant club registrar, said a club ideally wants teams in each age group. “As the number of kids was dropping off, we found gaps in the program,” he said.
This spring season the club has some 250 players, about half of them in the developmental program, according to Pfaff.
Facing a similar problem, the Mattituck and Riverhead soccer clubs joined forces last spring in the hope of providing playing opportunities for players who they say otherwise might not have a team to play for.
The Riverhead Soccer Club president, Ron Jager, said the arrangement has worked out “great” for his club. Similar in size to its neighbors to the east, the Riverhead club has five travel teams and close to 200 players.
Without the cooperation of Mattituck, Jager said, “We would be able to field teams, but we would have to mix ages, mix abilities and even mix genders.”
Jager said the idea of clubs sharing players is part of a national trend. “I think what’s happening throughout the soccer world is now affecting the East End,” he said.
It is, perhaps, in reaction to that development that his club has virtually given up the “Riverhead” name for its teams. With the exception of the Riverhead Alliance under-18 boys team, all the club’s other teams go by the name East End F.C.
Another source of contention has been Mattituck’s use of paid trainers supplied by the New York Red Bulls professional team. Club officials say the trainers are a valuable resource, benefiting players and coaches. Pfaff said cost has been the primary objection to the use of the trainers. He said the club spent between $35,000 and $40,000 on training for the 2011 calendar year.
The rift in the club has been marked by some hard feelings, with nasty emails being circulated. Vasile-Cozzo, a former Mattituck High School varsity boys soccer coach who Hayes said carries a lot of influence, seems to have been a lightning rod.
“In all honesty, there is a huge philosophical difference between Joe Vas and basically all of us,” Jay Burkhardt, a Mattituck executive board member, said. “I know he’s hellbent, basically, on destroying the soccer club because he cannot control it.”
Vasile-Cozzo said it is untrue that he is looking to destroy the club. “That’s ridiculous,” he said.
Explaining his position regarding the club, he said: “I’m not looking to bury any one of those board members. My point is, let the community decide what they want. Let the parents of the kids decide what they want.”
Referring to the executive board members, Vasile-Cozzo said: “Those guys are all soccer guys. I know them. I’ve had their kids on my team, and I have nothing but respect for their knowledge in soccer, but I will not allow anyone to dictate what they should do with my kid, and the 140 kids, their parents felt the same way.”
Dr. John Borzilleri, an assistant coach for the Stars, said he isn’t interested in personalities or personal attacks. “Keep the focus on the kids,” he said. “The issue is our kids can’t play soccer on their own home field.”
Critics of the club leadership said they had considered forming a separate club, but it is not logistically feasible.
“For better or worse, they represent our community,” said Rob DiGregorio, who coaches the under-10 boys Storm and the under-11 girls Whitecaps, two former Mattituck teams. “They should represent our community because they hold the key for us to play soccer.”
And just what does the future have in store for the Mattituck club and the teams that don’t have a club to call their own?
“We’re very concerned about soccer here on the North Fork,” said Hayes, who anticipates six to eight Mattituck travel teams will be registered in the fall, possibly more if girls teams can be fielded.
“We truly wanted to make it work,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “The question now is, what are we doing in the fall?”
The Mattituck girls tennis team will look to make it eight wins in a row to start the season today when they travel to winless Center Moriches. The match is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The Tuckers posted two big wins last week when they defeated Riverhead (5-2) and Shoreham-Wading River (5-3).
The Tuckers are just one local tennis team in action today. The Southold/Greenport girls (3-4) will host Riverhead (5-2) at 4 p.m.
Here are some other local high school games scheduled for today:
Mattituck (1-5) at Greenport/Southold (1-3), 5:45 p.m.
Eastport-South Manor (4-1) at Greenport/Southold (1-3), Island’s End Golf and Country Club, 4 p.m.
Shelter Island (4-1) at Mattituck (4-0), North Fork Country Club, 4 p.m.
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.
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.
As the spring season winds down at the Aldrich Lane fields in Laurel, rumors are flying like corner kicks that the Mattituck Soccer Club’s summer program might not be welcome there.
But it seems the rumors aren’t true. The Mattituck Park District, which owns the fields, expects to say yes to the club, perhaps as soon as its next meeting on Thursday, June 9.
The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District owns a portion of the Aldrich Lane fields, which complicates the park district’s ability to approve users, said Charlie Zaloom, the chairman of the park district board of commissioners.
After the commissioners gave McGann-Mercy High School’s lacrosse teams access to the fields earlier this spring, the Mattituck school sent the park district a cease and desist order, asking that it hold off on approving any more users until the park district receives a new lease for the school’s land. The lease had expired last year.
Mr. Zaloom said the school district has since given the park district verbal authorization to approve field use, and that he expects that the school district will give the park district a new lease to sign very soon.
“There’s no other applicant. It’s not even considered in our minds that we would stop the Mattituck Soccer Club,” said Mr. Zaloom on Friday. “I’m getting letters from grandmothers saying my granddaughter won’t be able to play soccer. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know where that comes from.”
School Board President Jerry Diffley could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Zaloom said that the commissioners are also planning to allow the Mattituck Soccer Club to use all four fields at Aldrich Lane this summer, bringing an MSC team that currently plays on Southold Town’s Strawberry Fields down to play on the same site, at the request of the club.
The park commissioners are in the process of reviewing a field-use policy, a standard document used by many parks and recreation organizations providing clear use guidelines. Once that policy is adopted, he said, field use approval can come from the district clerk with no need for a vote by the commissioners.
“I don’t want three Brahmins sitting up there flipping coins,” said Mr. Zaloom. He called the current selection system “unfair, not a good use of a public facility, and not legal either.”
A public meeting on the field-use policy will be held June 20 at 7 p.m. at the park district headquarters at Veterans Memorial Beach. Though the public is welcome to attend, Mr. Zaloom said public comment on the policy will not be taken until later this year. He expects the policy will be in place by next January.
Mr. Zaloom added that some seem to be developing conspiracy theories about the approval process, leading to a perception that the commissioners are biased against soccer.
“It shouldn’t be informal, with people saying ‘we’re the guys who were here first,’” he said. “That doesn’t stand up in court. We can’t support a private group, even if they’re a nonprofit enterprise, on public property. It would be like setting up a business or putting a church there.”
But in this case, “there’s only one applicant,” Mr. Zaloom said. “It’s the Mattituck Soccer Club. There’s no contention with another soccer league.”
He noted that in the Mattituck area “soccer is a religion, not a sport.”
McGann-Mercy High School can still hold lacrosse practices on the Mattituck Park District’s fields on Aldrich Lane in Laurel.
After nearly two hours of debate Thursday night, the Mattituck-Cutchogue school board agreed to support to the Riverhead school’s use of the fields, provided the park district requires McGann-Mercy to include Mattituck-Cutchogue School in its liability insurance policy. The three fields on Aldrich Lane are managed by the park district, but a third of the land belongs to the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District.
The Mattituck Soccer Club recently launched a campaign opposing McGann-Mercy’s use of the fields, citing concern that lacrosse players would damage the grass and could endanger soccer players using an adjacent field at the same time.
Mattituck Soccer Club coach Joe Vasile-Cozzo said he was concerned that Mattituck’s own lacrosse team is playing on an inferior field at Strawberry Fields. Former town councilman Dan Ross, who has also coached soccer, raised questions on permitting a private organization to use public fields. McGann-Mercy is a Catholic school run by the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
In response, Charlie Zaloom, chairman of the park district’s board of commissioners who voted in favor of the McGann-Mercy agreement with the majority in a park district vote last week, said the park district did not receive a request from Mattituck’s lacrosse team to use the fields this year.
The park district’s contract with the Mattituck-Cutchogue school district to manage the land has expired. Park district representatives said the fields are being maintained in accordance with the old agreement. Park commissioners and school board members agree that a new deal needs to be negotiated.
In related news, the district agreed Thursday to put its long-anticipated plan to replace its outdated track on hold due to the economic downturn.
“I’m the biggest proponent of [replacing the track], but I agree,” said School Board President Jerry Diffley.
Park district attorney Eileen Powers, whose daughter is a student at McGann-Mercy, said she found the reason the lacrosse team wants to use the Aldrich Lane fields ironic. The private school’s own lacrosse field is in the center of its track, which Mercy needs to use to host teams like Mattituck that don’t have tracks suitable for competition.
Good grades for school finances
During Thursday’s meeting, district auditor Frank Perry of the Patchogue firm Rizzi, Schwarz & Taraskas gave the school glowing grades for its financial management of purchase orders and payments.
The biannual claims audit showed that just 3.4 percent of the district’s purchase orders were issued after purchases were made. It also reports that 2.7 percent of requests for checks did not include compete information and that just .5 percent of checks issued by the district contained errors.
Mr. Perry said that many districts have some inconsistent purchase orders at the beginning of the school year, when they are racing to get the school ready for students to return.
“Mattituck is near the top,” he said. “The documentation that is in place is top drawer.”
“All in all it’s a pretty clean report,” said Mr. Diffley. “Mr. Perry said we’re better than Southold.”
Labs to be rebuilt
The school district will need to rebuild two chemistry labs after a sump beneath the floors began filling up with water and overflowing.
Board member Douglas Cooper, who serves as liaison to the school’s buildings and grounds committee, said the lab floors were graded incorrectly and that the warranty on the work has expired. The district is currently working up a project cost projection.
Mr. Cooper said that the sump only needs to be pumped out every two years. It was recently pumped but will eventually need to be replaced.
“It’s a summer project for one of these summers,” he said.
HAMPTON BAYS — Soccer can be a funny game sometimes.
At first blush, one might have expected a high-scoring affair when the Mattituck Tuckers and Hampton Bays Baymen played their Suffolk County League VII rematch on Thursday. After all, the teams combined for seven goals in a one-goal Mattituck win on Sept. 24. Also to be taken into account is the small, narrow field at Hampton Bays High School, where any shot in the offensive end can be a threat to go in the net.
And then there was Kevin Reyer, scoring a brilliant goal for Mattituck 9 minutes 20 seconds after the opening kickoff. Moments later, Reyer nearly added a second strike, sliding to slam the ball against the left goalpost.
This was going to be a goalfest, right?
Reyer’s fourth goal of the season stood up for a 1-0 Mattituck victory in the Suffolk County League VII game. Cody Huntley made six saves, a couple of which were first class, for the team’s eighth shutout.
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