When Brentwood coach Ron Eden was recently asked if winning ever felt a bit redundant, he smiled and listed schools that have the potential to end his team's streak of five straight Class AA Suffolk County championships.
It will not be an easy task, however. Brentwood is led by lethal scorer Ever Torres, who had 19 goals and 18 assists as a sophomore and senior midfielder Eric Molina. Though the defense at times will feel the loss of key graduates from last year, Alejandro Ruiz and Noel Rios are quality players.
A team many coaches predict will finish as one of the best in the county is Smithtown West, which is led by junior defender Steven Dovi.
Half Hollow Hills West, with seven returning starters, aims to make it to at least the quarterfinals for the eighth straight season. Senior forward Moosah Khanat is a workhorse who is also strong on the ball, and senior midfielder Cody Cao controls the tempo of games well. The backline is composed of seniors Jaylan White and Cole Tobias.
Ward Melville is a young team with only two returning starters. Senior midfielders Brendan Diviney and Eric Morra will lead the largely inexperienced team with their skills and creativity. Ward Melville, known for its physical play in recent years, will rely more on soccer wit this year, coach Jon Stecker said.
Commack will be competitive with junior midfielder Justin Cebollero. Senior Zach Pogrob is expected to make a big impact on offense.
Half Hollow Hills East is a sophomore-heavy team and one to watch is goalkeeper Tyler Spellman. Sophomore midfielder Casey Barone is ready for a big season.
Newfield senior forward Jake Barros is one of the county's top players because of a unique combination of power, speed and an ability to finish. Returning goalkeeper Sean Kelly, a sophomore, will be counted on to produce for the defending League II champions.
Of the 16 returning players for Northport, six are starters, including senior midfielders Tyler Carrano and Jon Contino. Senior Kyle Farabaugh keys the defense.
One of the county's top scorers is Harrison Weilbacher, a junior forward, who leads Sachem North. Senior forward Brandon Arango, senior midfielder Mark Ciaburri and junior midfielder Nick Plate are important pieces.
Ian Prate, a three-year starting defender, leads West Islip. Junior Max Cuiffo is a young captain who is versatile.
East Hampton aims to make it three straight Class A Suffolk titles. Junior goalkeeper Nick Tulp is a game-changer. Nick West scored nine goals as a sophomore. Esteban Valverde is a dynamic, skillful and quick forward. Denis Espana anchors the defense.
Sayville is always a tough team to beat and that doesn't figure to change this year with seniors Cory Santangelo, Tyler McKenna and Michael Farese at midfield. Senior Justin Siracusa stabilizes the defense.
Glenn will be a top team in Class A behind goalkeeper Max Karen. Senior midfielder Vinny Ticcoli, junior sweeper Sean Hurda and junior defender Andrew Pick are players to watch.
Mattituck, Suffolk's Class B champions for four straight years, was selected in a preseason coaches' poll to finish atop the class yet again. Junior forward Mario Arreola leads the team.
Port Jefferson, after dominating Class C competition with four straight Suffolk titles, will move into Class B.
Senior forward Jake Sweeney scored 17 goals to lead Center Moriches, which expects to compete for a title this year. Kevin O'Brien stands at 6-4 and is a physical presence at midfield. Cameron Stankelis is a junior defender to watch out for.
Southold returns six starters, including senior midfielder Drew Sacher. Will Richter is a fundamentally sound player at midfield. Zach Ellis, who played well as a sophomore, heads the defense.
Nick Stephens is a solid goalkeeper for Pierson-Bridgehampton. The mainstays are seniors Forrest Loesch and Oliver Betts. Senior Drew Harvey will step up into a prominent role at midfield after playing as a defender at times last year.