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Aiden Benitez, David Akpan lead scoring barrage in Brentwood win

Brentwood's Aiden Benitez (7) and Central Islip's Anselmo

Brentwood's Aiden Benitez (7) and Central Islip's Anselmo Joya (16) battle for the ball in the second half during a Suffolk boys soccer game on Monday, March 22, 2021. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Brentwood had this one in the B-A-G.

That would be Benitez, Akpan, and Gomez. No, that’s not a law firm.

How about Aiden Benitez (two goals), David Akpan (three goals) and Juan Gomez (four assists) who helped defending state AA champ Brentwood defeat host Central Islip, 6-2, in a Suffolk League I boys soccer game on Monday

"All three of them are juniors. It’s kind of scary," said Brentwood coach Ron Eden, with a chuckle. "They play really well together . . . and they’re just at a different level."

Benitez opened the scoring on a feed from Gomez for Brentwood (2-0). Then Gomez found Akpan on three straight occasions in a span of 4 minutes, 37 seconds as the lead ballooned to 4-0 with 21:50 left in the first half.

Brentwood’s BAG group allowed teammate Juan Hernandez to get in on the action, as the forward, also a junior, converted a penalty kick in the 27th minute to make it 5-0.

"I’m just happy scoring goals for the team," said Akpan, who now has seven tallies this season. "It means a lot because last year we were on the bench hoping for some playing time to play, and now that I have my opportunity, I have to take it."

Heris Robles got Central Islip (0-3-1) on the board just 45 seconds into the second half before Benitez scored his second goal of the game in the 56th minute off a pass from Adrian Vides for Brentwood. The Musketeers’ Kevin Mendoza converted a feed from Kevin Zuniga in the 67th minute to close the scoring.

"We had opportunities and we tried to capitalize," CI co-head coach Johnny Velez said. "We have 16 seniors who almost lost out on having a season because of COVID. The last three games since the beginning of the season, they’ve been playing with a lot of heart, a lot of love, and a lot of energy to make this season the best they can with what they got."

Musketeers goalkeeper Steven Mendoza was busy throughout the afternoon and made 15 saves.

"We call it blood in the water," Eden said. "Once they get it, and once they get the bit between their teeth, forget it. They just put pressure on you. We’ve got to solve some problems. We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but we don’t have time to be where we want to be, like every other year."

This week, for example, Brentwood also has games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday — four games in six days.

"It’s really tough," Gomez said. "You’re tired. You have to rest at home. Get ice. So it’s very difficult. Very tough."

Even though there won’t be a Long Island or state championship, Brentwood still has high aspirations for this season.

"We still have the counties and we can still win it," Akpan said. "We’re still the defending state champs, and we always have next year to try to defend it again."

Brentwood seems like it’s not rebuilding, but reloading toward another title run using a simple but effective formula.

"This is what we do — after [we score] a goal we take the game like it’s 0-0," said Akpan, who was born in Nigeria and moved to Long Island in sixth grade. "We can’t fall back. Once you get another goal, you’ve got to shut the other team out, and that’s just the best way to win games."

As always, for Brentwood, it’s in the bag.

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