Brentwood boys soccer faced its biggest test of the season Monday afternoon.
Thanks to some timely finishing and clutch goalkeeping, the Indians’ campaign remains perfect.
Christopher Cerna scored in the 45th minute and goalkeeper Anthony Molina made a series of acrobatic stops in the closing moments to lead visiting Brentwood to a 1-0 win over Ward Melville in a Suffolk I match. The win improves the Indians to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league play.
“This was a character check,” Brentwood coach Ron Eden said. “This is the type of game you could win, lose or tie. Anything can happen. I knew that they would come out and fight for everything.”
Brentwood dominated possession, meaning Molina’s number was not called until late in the match, when Ward Melville pushed forward seeking an equalizer.
With 1:30 left, he fully extended to punch a ball away and moments later sent a shot over the bar. Twenty seconds after that, he came off his line to clear the ball out of the penalty area and end the Patriots’ threat.
“I knew I had to come up big and keep the game 1-0,” Molina said. “You can go the whole game without facing any shots, but being a goalkeeper means you have to be ready for the unexpected.”
“That’s a sign of a good goalkeeper because you’re out of the game most of the game,” Eden said. “You’re not touching the ball, you’re just communicating, and all of a sudden, he had to make three saves.”
Thanks to Molina’s late shot-stopping, and tight marking throughout the season, Brentwood has yet to allow a goal in 2019.
“It’s defense first for us,” center back Alex Garcia said. “Everyone is a good one-v-one defender. No one gets beat easily.”
Up front, Brentwood struggled at times against Ward Melville (2-2) to convert its edge in possession into big chances, but the Indians finally broke through early in the second half, when Oscar Moreno found Cerna, who broke the tie.
“It was a low cross, [Moreno] passed it right to me and I just put it away,” Cerna said. “They had a solid back line and we couldn’t break through. We had to go wide and start getting the crosses in.
“A close game like this motivates us and makes us want to work harder towards our goals.”