SUFFOLKRon Eden, in his 19th season as Brentwood boys soccer coach, calls them the scariest scoring duo he has seen in a very long time: Ever Torres and Jefferson Portilla.
Torres, a three-time All-Long Island selection, and Portilla, a junior, have a good chance at leading Brentwood back to the Class AA county final. The addition of Carlos Martinez, a superb defender, allows Alejandro Ruiz to shift back to midfield.
Brentwood's streak of five straight AA championships was snapped last season when Smithtown West defeated Central Islip for the title. Both Smithtown West and Central Islip are expected to be contenders again behind stout defenses. Senior defender Robenson Jasmin and junior Christian Villalta (22 goals) guided CI to its first boys soccer county final. Senior defender Steve Dovi anchors Smithtown West, which should receive plenty of scoring from Matthew McDonnell and Matt Aprile.
A team many coaches predict will finish as one of the best in the county is Commack, which is led by Justin Cebollero, Connor Gill and goalie Ryan Sinnott.
Among the teams that could also make a deep run in Class AA are: North Babylon, Hills East, Hills West, Ward Melville, Hauppauge and Sachem North.
East Hampton is dotted with talent in Class A. Esteban Valverde is a capable scorer, Nick West can play any position and Nick Tulp is a reliable goalie.
Mattituck returns scoring threats Mario Arreola and Kaan Ilgin in addition to captain Paul Hayes. The Tuckers seem primed to capture their fifth straight Class B county title.NASSAUAfter a recent game, Massapequa's Sean Nealis, who stands 6-4, put his hand an inch above his waist and said, "I could jump about this high."
That's an intimidating thought for any team thinking about stopping Nealis -- who wins nearly every ball in the air -- and the Chiefs from winning a second straight Class AA title. The defending state champions are bolstered by the presences of Peter Meyer, Andrew Prendergast and Brandon Merklin.
Hicksville will challenge for the title, however. Sophomore midfielder Matt Sloan has started since eighth grade, Ryan DiLorenzo is a commanding presence defensively and Michael Osmundsen is a talented scorer.
Syosset, MacArthur, UniondaleandFarmingdale could surprise.
In a strong and crowded Class A field, Jericho will look to continue its dominance. The Jayhawks have won three straight state titles and will be led by Zach Brown and Alex Medolla. Freshman Tyler McElhinney will start as goalie and junior A.J. Pinto anchors the backline.
South Side, behind deadly scorer Alessandro Pugliesse, John Debenedittis and Matt Diluccio, could make it to the county championship for the fifth time in six years.
Garden City, Wantagh, Lawrence, Lynbrook and Bellmore JFK will also be in the mix.
Carle Place returns only one starter, John Aydogan, after capturing the state Class B title.
Wheatley graduated 12 players, but could find its way back in the conference championship.
Oyster Bay could contend behind stalwart defender Thomas Carchietta. Island Trees could have a strong season with Ryan Willoughby.
Friends Academy, which won the state Class C championship, should be strong again behind Max Heffron, Samer Bendary and Merek Glover.
CHSAAAfter a dream season in which St. Anthony's won the state CHSAA title and outscored opponents, 71-3, T.J. Butzke was recently asked what's left for the upperclassmen to accomplish.
"We're just as motivated to do it again," the senior forward who is committed to Boston University said. "And I really think we can."
Juniors Beau Hornberger, Costas Efstathiou and Ryan Healy are a big reason why. The group comprises one of the strongest defenses on Long Island. Butzke led the Friars in assists with 12. Jake Giuffrida, a senior forward, will look to add to his nine goals from last season.
To repeat, the Friars will likely have to get past Chaminade, which is led by James Brady and Joe LoMonaco. Brady, at 6-4, is a dominating presence on the field and he has a knack for scoring. Chaminade coach Michael Gallagher said LoMonaco could lead the team back to the CHSAA championship, where the defender shined last season. "Joe simply played his heart out in that game," Gallagher said.
St. John the Baptist appears poised to make its first championship appearance in three years. Senior midfielder Chris Abruzzo is one of Long Island's best players and Aidan Keenan has already scored nine goals in the team's first three games. The Cougars should also benefit from the experience of goalie Nick Malderella.