Brunswick laxmen succeeded against the best competition around

With the loss of some stellar offensive firepower and starting a sophomore goalie, the Brunswick School lacrosse team had every chance to play a softer schedule and make a run at the New England 1 West championship next year.

However, that’s not how Bruce and the rest of the Bruins operate.

Playing the toughest schedule in the conference and one of the strongest schedules in the country, Brunswick grew as a team and had another outstanding campaign, finishing 11-7 overall and third in their highly-competitive conference.

“I think we had a great season,” Bruce said. “We had a few more losses than we anticipated, but our goal was to be in the top four in our league. It was a competitive league and we finished in third place, with Deerfield and Salisbury tying for first. I was proud of the team because they played really well and I am extremely proud of the seniors and the way they inspired the team. We were struggling to win games in the middle of the season, but we pulled through thanks to them. They made our program proud.”

The Bruins ended the season ranked 77th in the country, according to Laxpower.com, and were ranked sixth in the state. Making the schedule for this year, Bruce was looking for tough competition throughout the season. That’s exactly what he got, as Brunswick had the toughest strength of schedule in the conference and one of the strongest in the country.

The Bruins battled some of the best teams in the country, like Salisbury, Deerfield, St. Andrew’s of Florida, Kent Denver, Loomis Chaffee, Downingtown West and Westminster School. While there wasn’t an easy game on the schedule, Bruce wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There wasn’t an off-game for us and that’s what I expect from this program,” Bruce said. “They want to have tough games every game and they want to play the best. They had the chance to this year and they did really well. It’s a tribute to the seniors. If you have a strong senior class that is willing to work and put the effort in, the other guys would follow. We had 14 seniors this year, some of them didn’t start and some struggled to get on the field during game day, but the seniors that didn’t start worked just as hard as the seniors that were on the field. When you have that, all the other guys will follow. The team got what they deserved, which was a bunch of wins.”

One of the keys to Brunswick’s success was the stellar play in goal from sophomore Tommy Heidt. While Bruce knew that Heidt had a lot potential at the beginning of the season, he wasn’t sure how he was going to respond playing against some of the toughest competition in the country.

“Usually it doesn’t work out as a sophomore, but it worked out for Tommy,” Bruce said. We were lucky to have him in net and even luckier to have him in net for two more years. He is as good as any goalie that we saw.

In net, Tommy Heidt finished with 153 saves on the season and cemented himself as one of the top goaltenders in the area.

“Tommy is an aggressive goalie and he could control his emotions,” Bruce said. “If a goal was scored, he didn’t get overly upset about it. He just lets it go and moves on to the next play and that’s something very hard to accomplish, especially for such a young goalie. I also think that we so much senior leadership around him on defense helped his confidence. The more saves he made, the more confidence he got.”

Helping Tommy Heidt on defense were seniors John Baker and Zander Baccile. When it came to groundballs, no one was better than Baker, who finished with a team-high 81 for the season. Baccile added 29.

Joining Brunswick’s two defenders was fellow senior Curt Townshend, who added 33 groundball wins and three assists. Junior Charlie Better pitched in with 38 groundballs.

“There were very few games in which our opposition scored in double-digits,” Bruce said. “Our defense did great. Tommy Heidt came in as a sophomore and was outstanding in net. We had some senior leadership behind him and that really helped a lot. John Baker, Zander Baccile were great at not giving the opposition any good looks at net. All our defenders really knew our system and knew how to work together. They took pride in the way they were able to shut down an opposing team.”

With the loss of Brunswick’s attack to graduation last year, Bruce was forced to move some players around in an attempt to fill the holes left by the graduating seniors. Brunswick still had the talent, senior leadership and speed to be successful at the attack, however it was all about the players getting comfortable in their new positions.

It took a little bit, but the Bruins were able to end the season with the same firepower the team has been known for. This season the Bruins scored 155 goals and finished with 105 assists. They also outshot their opponents by a combined 496-427 this season.

Leading the charge for Brunswick were senior attackers Nick Bartlett and Billy Heidt. The senior duo each finished with a team-high 41 goals, while Heidt added 24 assists and Bartlett added 18. Bartlett also was third on the team with 41 groundballs.

“I think they knew that things needed to be created in their sticks,” Bruce said. “They are unselfish, but they worked well together as a lefty and righty combination. They both saw the field very well, so they were able to see their teammates. They were good dodgers, so they could draw the slide and start the defensive scramble.”

In the middle of the field, Brunswick was paced by seniors Eddie DeDomenico, Michael McQuiston, Charlie Castine. Bruce called those three seniors the workhorses of the team. DeDomenico was third on the team with 13 goals and added four assists and 16 groundballs. McQuiston added 11 goals and seven assists, and was also strong in winning groundballs, netting 35. Like McQuiston, Castine finished with 11 goals, but also added 23 groundballs and nine assists.

“We struggled to score as many goals as we used to at the beginning of the year and through the first half of the season,” Bruce said. “We were able to put up 10 or 12 goals a game at the end of the season, compared to seven or eight goals a game that we were doing at the beginning. Our attack was led by senior Billy and Nick and they were our most creative offensive players.”

Sophomore Alex Kelly had a breakout season for the Bruins when it came to faceoffs. As the team’s main faceoff specialist, Kelly won 155 out of the 265 he battle in. Junior Eddie DeFrino, who netted 27 groundball wins for Brunswick this season, also saw time battling for faceoffs, winning 32 of the 54 that he competed in.

While Brunswick lost Baccile, Baker, Bartlett, Castine, DeDomenico, David Fitzpatrick, Matias Gonzales-Bunster, Billy Heidt, John Kelly, McQuiston, Charlie Miller, Billy Murphy, Townshend and Kip Werner to graduation, Bruce still will be looking for another champion-caliber team.

“We are losing a great deal of senior leadership, but we’re not going to change our schedule,” Bruce said. “It will be as challenging than ever. There will be a lot more holes to fill next year than we had to fill this year, but we have a great freshman class, Alex Kelly will be returning as a junior for faceoffs and we got Billy in goal. We will have kids move into different rolls and I think if everybody works well together, we’ll be able to get a lot of victories.”

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