Johnathan Interiano began Monday's game on the bench and the Brentwood coaches didn’t have plans to play him because of a hip injury. Brentwood clinched its first league title since 2008 on Friday and was playing for a top seed.
“He didn’t want to put me in,” Interiano said of Brentwood coach Ron Eden. “The hip hurts a lot, but I felt I had to go in and help. After we won the league championship, going undefeated in the regular season was the second goal.”
Interiano kept the goal alive. He came into the game with 13:50 left in the first half and made an impact quickly.
More than four minutes after he entered, he drew a penalty in the box and Mario Ruiz scored on a penalty kick. Carlos Escobar added a goal 4:53 into the second half for visiting Brentwood in a 2-0 win over Ward Melville in Suffolk League I boys soccer.
Brentwood (15-0, 13-0), which is ranked third in the country by the NSCAA, caps the regular season against Commack Wednesday before going for its fifth consecutive Suffolk Class AA title.
“It was getting a little physical and he’s an intimidator,” Eden said of Interiano. “He changed the whole tempo of the game. He takes the pressure off the midfield. He’s a big, strong kid. We played well without him. We played better with him.”
The defense has allowed just five goals this season. Senior goalkeeper Raul Bonilla tied Jorge Aranda for a program record with 25 career shutouts.
“It’s not only the back,” Ruiz said. “It starts with the forwards. We all play defense.”
Any hopes of a comeback by Ward Melville (9-3-3, 8-3-2) were dashed when one of its players got a red card with 34:38 left in the game leaving the Patriots down a player.
While Brentwood has outscored opponents 57-5, many games have been tight. The Indians have won four games by 1-0 and three of those goals came in the final 21 minutes.
“It’s very tough,” Ruiz said. “We’re playing great teams and they’re pushing us to the limit. There’s always pressure when you come from Brentwood with our history. We just hope to keep the tradition going.”