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Mat Litchhult says state champion Mattituck was best of all time

Mattituck players celebrate their championship following the Class

Mattituck players celebrate their championship following the Class B final at the 2014 NYSPHSAA boys soccer championships at Middletown High School on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Credit: Adrian Kraus

Mat Litchhult may not know everything about Mattituck's soccer history, but good luck finding someone who knows more.

The former Tucker player served as the program's coach for 13 years before announcing his retirement at the end of this season -- which featured his second state championship run and Mattituck's third.

The 2014 group of Tuckers, he said, was the best of all time.

"I don't remember the 1982 team, but I coached the 2003 team,'' he said. "That was a very good team, but I think this team's overall depth and pure talent would be the best. I think they proved it upstate.''

Led by High School All-American and Long Island Player of the Year Kaan Ilgin, Mattituck throttled Skaneateles, 6-0, in the Class B semifinals and scored twice in the second half to put away Beekmantown, 3-0, in the title game. It was a dominant two-day stretch in Middletown.

Litchhult saw the potential for it when Ilgin and fellow seniors Mario Arreola, Kevin Williams, James Hayes and Paul Hayes were freshmen. Though Litchhult fielded a starting lineup with several seniors, he felt the need to make a change during the Long Island championship game against Wheatley.

"That game four years ago, I had seniors who weren't having their best game, and I put in five freshmen there at the end,'' Litchhult said.

The Tuckers fell, 1-0, in double overtime, but that group of varsity rookies impressed their coach.

"It was pretty amazing,'' Litchhult said. "I knew how bright their future could be then.''

That group blossomed in the three ensuing years, winning a Long Island championship in 2012 and a Suffolk title in 2013 before capturing the state title this season.

"Soccer's their life,'' Litchhult said. "They're dedicated to the sport. They play it 12 months a year. They're one-sport athletes that concentrate and train on a regular basis. They are focused.''

After falling shy of their ultimate goal in 2011, 2012 and 2013, they were focused on getting over the proverbial hump in their senior year. Litchhult said he and his players believed they were the better team when they fell to Livonia in the 2012 state semifinals and Carle Place in the 2013 Long Island championship game. That aided his players' confidence and motivation to get one more shot and capitalize.

"Each year that they had was like a steppingstone to this,'' Litchhult said. "It was our ultimate goal all along, but then for them to go out as seniors, these guys played together forever, and for me to go out in my last game as a Mattituck coach with a win, I just thought it was a storybook ending.''

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