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Mattituck turns out to welcome state champs home with cheers, tears of joy

Emotions were overflowing Sunday night as Mattituck parents and friends gathered outside Mattituck High School to welcome home new heroes.

A cheering crowd welcomed the processional of firetrucks and police cars that led the bus carrying Mattituck’s boys soccer team, who won the state title on Sunday as  Mattituck (19-2) defeated Beekmantown 3-0 in the Class B state championship at Twin Towers Middle School in Middletown, N.Y.

Wearing T-shirts bearing the names of the winning Tuckers that were designed and made even before the game, a crowd of parents danced and waved signs as “We are the Champions” played in the background.

Head Coach Mat Litchult, voice breaking with emotion, stopped to kiss his infant son before speaking to the crowd. “We haven’t lost a game since he was born,” he said. “I’m still wearing the hospital bracelet.”

Litchult faced his team, pride in his voice and in his eyes. “We represented up there,” he said. Not many graduating seniors, he said, can “go out on victory like this one. This is the best team ever in Mattituck history, and we’ve had some great ones.”

Talking with others at today’s game, Litchult said, “The talk was that Mattituck was the number one team not only in the Class B division,  but in all classes.”

Looking out at his team gathered close around him, Litchult said, “There’s no greater feeling in the world. I hope this feeling never ends.” He said the boys would sign the wall in the locker room as state champs. “Pat them on the back in the hall,” he said. “Never forget them. This isn’t just a soccer victory, it’s a Mattituck community victory,” he said, thanking the crowd for turning out.

Ben Knowles, goalie, had tears in his eyes and he held the team’s state championship plaque. Asked how he felt, he said, “Incredible. We’ve been expecting this since the beginning of the year,” he said, but the reality of winning was an experience he said was the pinnacle for the graduating seniors.

Trisha Wright, mother of Connor Almberg, was all smiles Sunday night. “I”m elated. I’m numb with excitement,” she said. “I’m so happy for the boys.” His girlfriend, Trisha Dorfmeister, said she was “so excited,” and helped to decorate the outside of the building with balloons and streamers in the school’s colors.

Stephanie Vitolano said she was so proud of her son Nick. “It’s amazing,” she said.

Kathy Wiliams, mother of the team’s captain, Kevin Williams, recounted how her son scored the second bullet goal in the game.

Karen Diffley, whose husband, Mattituck Board of Education President Jerry Diffley, had the shirts made up in advance, said the shirts were ordered with conviction. “We knew it,” she said. “We believed.”

Southold Town Councilwoman Jill Doherty was beaming with pride for her son Brian. “So many of them have been playing together since kindergarten. And this is the last time they’ll play together. It’s so exciting.”