Brunswick lacrosse looking strong in quest for regular season title

The Brunswick School lacrosse team is on a roll, winning eight games in a row and is in contention for the regular season championship. — Fred Goode photo

The Brunswick School lacrosse team is on a roll, winning eight games in a row and is in contention for the regular season championship. — Fred Goode photo

Starting the week with six conference games to play in the regular season, the Brunswick School lacrosse team is in the kind of situation that head coach David Bruce dreams about.

“I think this is where we hoped to be right about now,” Bruce said. “With our schedule, it was hard to expect anything and look past one game. I think everybody hoped us to be here and the outsiders expected us to be here, but inside our locker room we know that we can lose to any one of the teams that are remaining on our schedule. We also, as we’ve proven, beat any team that we play.”

Brunswick entered this week of games with a 10-3 record and just came off a 5-2 victory over Choate and a 10-6 win over Westminster on Saturday. Currently the Bruins only have one conference loss.

However this week Brunswick will be tested in a big way.

“We are a very confident team,” Brunswick senior goalie Tommy Heidt said. “We are on a nice winning streak, but we got a big week this week. It’s going to be huge. This is the peak for us. We play two really good teams and it’s what we’ve all been looking forward to. It’s all in-league.”

Earlier today Brunswick hosted Avon Old Farms and on Friday they’re on the road against Salibury School. Avon was 12-1 and Salisbury 9-2, however both don’t have a loss in the New England 1 West Conference.

“In our league it pretty much takes one loss to put you out of contention for winning the league,” Brunswick senior defender Henry Hobbs said. “At this point Deerfield has lost their one game and we have to undefeated teams this week. We know that this was going to be our only opportunity to win give them a loss. We can’t afford to drop another game and we have to win out.”

So far, so good for the Brunswick lacrosse team, as they hosted Avon Old Farms earlier tonight and came away with the thrilling 13-7 victory at Cosby Field.

The Bruins pulled away in the game during the second quarter, scoring six times. Overall, Brunswick was led by Reilly Walsh, who finished with four goals and three assists, while Marshall Dickson added two goals. Jack Knight took home two goals, as did teammate Cam Stafford. Alex Buckanavage ended his day with one goal and two assists.

In net, Heidt was stellar, finishing with 12 saves.

Bruce said he is proud of where his team currently stands leading into the final stretch of the season.

“We have all league games remaining on our schedule,” Bruce said. “We only have one league loss, but this week we really have a test. We play Avon and Salisbury this week and they are the two undefeated teams in our league. It’s a tough week, but the guys are excited and we are right in the mix. We’ve never really held our destiny with two weeks left in the season, so it’s great.”

Not bad for a team that started the season with a 1-3 record. Brunswick started the season with a hard-fought 9-5 loss to Haverford School. Haverford currently has a 17-4 regular season record.

After beating Mountain Vista School 14-6, the Bruins faced Deerfield in the New England 1 West Conference opener and fell 10-9 in double overtime. A game later, Brunswick went out of conference and was defeated by Hill Academy 10-7.

“Right after that third loss, everybody got together and said that we don’t want to lose again,” Heidt said. “Everybody was it this together and every one knew what we wanted to do. We have been getting more and more excited after each victory we picked up.”

Currently Hill Academy and Deerfield combine to have a record to 23-2.

“We probably look better now, but some of those teams we lost to at the beginning of the season are great teams,” Bruce said. “With that said, we thought we could have beaten all three of those teams, but we were technically the underdogs in all three games. We lost to teams that were technically supposed to beat us. We would like to have those games back, but it would still be tough to beat all three of them.”

Since that loss to Hill Academy, Brunswick has been on a tear. In fact, the Bruins haven’t lost since that game back on April 3.

“The first couple of games we knew it was going to be tough,” senior Henry Hobbs said. “Those games helped us set the goals for what we need to work on throughout the season. We’ve been focusing on being able to execute for every game we go into, no matter who the opponent is. In our league we can’t come into a game soft. Every game counts.”

Brunswick has also beaten top competition during its nine-game streak. They crushed Taft School 11-4 and finished off Hotchkiss School 15-10. Against Choate, Brunswick won 5-2 and they pulled away late against Westminster School and grabbed the 10-6 victory.

The Bruins also figured out ways to win the close games, beating St. Augustine’s Prep 6-5 and Lawrenceville 10-9.

They also upended Episcopal Academy 7-6 in overtime.

“We are executing and playing smart lacrosse,” Hobbs said. “We are a hard-working team and we try to execute on all the groundballs and all the small thing. It’s really come down to running the defense and offense the exact way we were told to do it.”

While Bruce believes his entire roster has stepped up its game, the duo of Alex Kelly at faceoff and Tommy Heidt in net have been keys.

“I start everything with Tommy in goal and Alex at faceoff,” Bruce said. “Those two have proven to be the best two at those two positions in almost every game. Those are probably as important as any position on the field. Tommy in net is amazing and Alex helps us gain possession by winning those faceoffs. Those two keep us in every game we play.”

While Heidt couldn’t be more pleased with the way he’s been playing for the Bruins during his senior year, he credits his defense for making him look good. Hobbs, along with Austin Meacham and Andrew Barnard, have been keeping the open looks at Heidt to a minimum. Throw in the top-notch defensive middies in John Fox and Hayes Murphy and Heidt has every reason to be confident.

“I am so lucky because our defense is amazing,” Heidt said. “We are stacked on defense and our defensive middies are great. I have no worried when I’m in net. It makes me play better because when I go in confident, I am mentally in a state where it’s pretty easy to make saves.”

Marshall Dickson has been the quarterback of the team offensively, feeding the ball to teammates like Cam Stafford and Jimmy Knight. With the addition of Reilly Walsh in the midfield and Jaime DeNaut finding his stride in the midfield, the Bruins have seen quite the improvement offensively since the season started up.

Despite the strengths, Bruce knows that there is still work to be done if the Bruins are going to win its remaining games.

“We need to connect on a couple more passes in transition,” Bruce said. “I don’t think we’ve scored as many as we have in the past in transition. We are doing fine 6-on-6 offense and on settle defense. We can score some more unsettled goals.”

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