Several hours later, these two words lingered in Paul Hayes' mind: "Who's Mattituck?"
That's the headline of a story from 2003 about Mattituck's last boys soccer state championship. Hayes, a captain midfielder, read it before Thursday afternoon's practice. Coach Mat Litchult brought it to the practice along with a framed jersey.
Despite Mattituck's 11 Long Island championships, Hayes said he couldn't fault those who are uninformed of the school's existence. After all, the town's population was listed at only 4,219, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report.
"When you look at Mattituck, it's a small, hokey town," Hayes said Thursday night. "Nobody knows what Mattituck is. Most people, all they know Mattituck for is soccer."
Still, the headline somewhat rubbed Hayes the wrong way.
"Reading that article that starts, 'Mattituck?' made me laugh a little, but then I put myself in those players' shoes," Hayes said. "I don't know if they were expected to win states that year, but obviously, the state learned who they were because they ended up winning it."
The Tuckers have a chance to remind the state who they are again this weekend at Middletown High School in the state tournament. Mattituck (17-2) will play Skaneateles (17-2-1) at 9:15 a.m. Saturday in a Class B state semifinal.
The team's core is composed of seniors Hayes, his twin brother James Hayes, Kaan Ilgin, Mario Arreola, Kevin Williams and Walter Jacob. The Hayes brothers, Williams and Jacob are stalwart defenders who have the versatility also to play in the midfield. Ilgin (18 goals) and Arreola (12 goals) make for one of Long Island's best scoring duos.
There's a chance that many already will know who the Tuckers are before the games are played this weekend. Mattituck was ranked the state's No. 1 Class B team in the latest coaches poll.
Hayes, however, wants to make sure of it this weekend.
"The whole team has to realize that getting up to this state tournament isn't all we want," Hayes said. "I don't want the other teams to overlook Mattituck. I don't want people to say, 'Oh, you made it up to states, that's great.' No, that's not good enough for me."
Hayes paused for a moment.
Then he said, "I definitely want people to remember who Mattituck is again."
Mattituck's road to the state Final Four
Regular season: 15-2
Suffolk B semifinal (Oct. 29): beat Southampton, 3-0
Suffolk B final (Nov. 1): beat Center Moriches, 2-0
Long Island championship (Nov. 4): beat Wheatley, 4-1
Regional final (Nov. 8): beat Rye Neck, 3-1