In an end-to-end match that lived up to its billing as a heavyweight showdown, Brentwood emerged with a comeback victory and a county title.
Alex Garcia had the deciding strike in a 5-4 win on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw to lead the No. 1 Indians past No. 2 Commack in the Suffolk AA championship at Diamond in the Pines in Coram. Anthony Molina made a diving save in the shootout for Brentwood, which will play Massapequa for the Long Island Championship on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Farmingdale State.
“I took two steps and pinned it to the bottom left corner. I knew that it was going to come down to me and I knew what I was going to do from the start.”
Brentwood (19-0) trailed 2-0 at halftime but got on the board eight minutes into the second half when Christopher Cerna scored after a set piece.
The Indians continued to apply pressure and leveled the score with 9:55 left on a goal from Eric Maldonado.
“When we went down so early, everybody thought this thing was over, but we knew we were going to battle back,” Brentwood coach Ron Eden said.
Commack (18-1-1) went into the break after creating the bulk of the chances, but it took until the later portion of the period for the Cougars to find a breakthrough against one of the toughest defenses on Long Island. Brentwood came into the match having allowed just eight goals all season.
After coming close in the 26th minute, when he forced a diving save from Molina, Justin Galluzzo found the back of the net about four minutes later, when he fully extended to redirect into the goal.
He struck again in the 41st minute after Commack took a free kick and played it short down the left flank and Galluzzo was able to win a scramble in front of the goal to double the lead.
After Brentwood tied the score, both teams had chances to win in overtime, with the Indians creating a series of particularly good chances, only to be denied by Commack keeper Dario Maricevic.
“This team has so much character and grit and I’m so proud of them,” Eden said. “Everybody was cramping at the end but I told them, ‘It’s your game to win or lose.’ And they got it done.”