Brentwood players and coaches pose for photos after winning the...

Brentwood players and coaches pose for photos after winning the Class AAA final at the NYSPHSAA Boys Soccer Championships in Middletown, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. Brentwood won the Class AAA title with a 2-1 win over Baldwinsville-III. Credit: Adrian Kraus

These boys from Brentwood gathered on the track near their bench at Middletown High School. They were wearing their new gray pullovers with the words STATE CHAMPION in white on the front, their commemorative medals and their winning smiles.

The inaugural Class AAA soccer champs were holding up five fingers during this traditional photo opportunity. They had just claimed the fifth state title in the powerful program’s history and first since 2019, the finishing touch on a perfect 22-0 season.

“I can’t believe it,” forward Diego Argueta said that Sunday in November after his second-half goal gave Brentwood a 2-1 win over Section III champ Baldwinsville. “It feels great. It really does feel great.”

First prize came as no surprise to the man in charge.

“I never expected 22-0, but I thought we would be the state champions,” said Ron Eden, their 28-year head coach. “I personally thought that this team was good enough to be state champions.

“You need a lot of luck going along, and we didn’t have luck. We had bad luck. We had guys get hurt. We played games with two of our best players sitting on the bench. One kid tore his ACL. We haven’t had the breaks. But they made their own breaks.”

Indeed, adversity didn’t slow this talented, experienced and determined team that also claimed the program’s 10th Long Island crown.

“This team is so special because we always stay together no matter what happens,” center defensive midfielder Stalyn Acosta said.

Brentwood climbed out of two-goal holes three times en route to perfection.

“We persevere,” said Argueta, a sophomore who scored 19 times. “We will never give up.”

They didn’t have forward Nico Loaiza, their leader with 23 goals, in a comeback win over Ward Melville for the Suffolk title due to a hamstring injury suffered in the semis. They took the Long Island and state championship games without him, too.

This was a team that didn’t have to depend on one player. It scored a program-record 94 goals.

“We have a lot of speed and a lot of communication up there, which helps us score goals,” said Josue Granados, the junior striker/midfielder who scored both goals in the 2-1, double overtime win over Section 1 champ Arlington in the state semis and then one in the final.

Eden liked something beyond the team’s sheer ability.

“They’re just really good soccer players, but they’re [also] great people,” Eden said. “… Like we called it all year long, it’s a family.”

The “family” is losing some bright stars. Acosta, Loaiza, midfielders Chris Arriaza and Cristian Escobar and defender Anthony Ortiz were among Brentwood’s 21 seniors.

“I’ve had them for three years on the varsity, some for four,” Eden said. “I really can’t believe they’re going to be gone.

“But it’s not the end, it’s the beginning, because we want them to be somewhere else. We want them to be good people, good parents, good husbands, go to college, get a good job. And this is just a launching pad for that.”

Brentwood's Road To The State Class AAA Championship

Suffolk quarterfinals: Beat Northport, 8-2

Suffolk semifinals: Beat Commack, 1-0

Suffolk championship: Beat Ward Melville, 3-1

Long Island championship: Beat East Meadow, 4-0

State semifinals: Beat Arlington, 2-1 (2 OT)

State final: Beat Baldwinsville, 2-1

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