By John Boell
Brentwood boys soccer coach Ron Eden was just a few minutes away from his 400th career win as head coach, but that was the last thing on his mind.
His team was comfortably ahead of Sachem North by two goals on Saturday in a Suffolk League I opener for both teams. But Eden was still doing what he usually does -- yelling encouragement, providing instruction, offering advice -- in general, coaching and coaching well.
After trailing by a goal for nearly the entire first half, host Brentwood scored three times in a span of 23 minutes to earn a 3-1 victory against a tough Sachem North team, as Eden reached rarified air.
The 67-year-old is 400-64-28 in 26 seasons as head coach. (He was also a Brentwood assistant coach for 16 seasons and went 182-83-23.) Eden is the second winningest head coach in Suffolk boys soccer history, according to the Suffolk County Soccer Coaches Association website. Mattituck coach Robert Muir won 509 games from 1937-1975, according to the SCSCA site.
"I haven’t played in any of these games," Eden said. "It’s just a sign of how strong the community is, and how strong our school programs are here. . . . We have kids that buy in."
Sachem North (0-1, 0-1-2) almost proved to be the spoiler. Dylan Cordoba scored off a feed from Kelvin Osorio in the second minute.
However, a left post, a crossbar and good goalkeeping from Chris Lally (12 saves) kept Brentwood scoreless in the opening half.
"Of course [Coach Eden] was mad at halftime," Juan Gomez said, "but he also said we have to have fun, because if we don’t, then nothing good happens."
Gomez took Eden’s message personally and tied the score in the 50th minute. David Akpan headed in a cross from Juan Hernandez for the go-ahead score in the 64th minute.
Then, Hernandez closed the scoring in the 73rd minute for Brentwood (1-0, 2-1) which lost to Connetquot in its first attempt at Eden’s 400th win on Sept. 3.
"It kind of put a little pressure on us [Saturday]," Akpan said, "but that’s no excuse. We had to come out and win."
Gomez added: "I feel so happy for him because he’s like my grandfather. I’m really proud of him."
There truly is a "Garden of Eden" on Long Island, and it is located in Brentwood. Eden’s three assistant coaches -- Rich Castellano, and Joel and Josue Iglesias -- all played for him.
Even Brentwood athletic director Francisco Herrera was a member of Brentwood’s 1989 state championship team -- when Eden was an assistant. (Herrera was an assistant under Eden for 14 seasons). Eden took over as head coach in 1996, and has guided Brentwood to state titles in 2008, 2010 and 2019.
"I’m ecstatic for him," said Herrera, who still calls Eden "Coach" and never by his first name. "He’s not just a coach here. He’s a father figure, a role model, he’s great to our community and great to our kids.
"This program is his heart and soul, and I couldn’t be happier for him to get his 400th win. It’s so well deserved."
SUFFOLK BOYS SOCCER HEAD COACHES ALL-TIME WINS
Robert Muir, Mattituck (1937-75) 509
Ron Eden, Brentwood (1996-2021) 400*
Howie Heckman, C. Moriches (1947-81) 381
John Eden, N. Babylon (1963-89) 366
John Ruffini, Hauppauge (1972-2004) 362
SOURCE: Suffolk County Soccer Coaches Association (SCSCA) Website.