Two nationally-ranked teams playing under the lights before a large, enthusiastic crowd – yes, Wednesday’s lacrosse showdown between Brunswick School and Deerfield Academy featured a postseason atmosphere.
And both teams showed why they are among the premier teams in the nation.
In a back-and-forth duel, Deerfield Academy, ranked second in the Under Armour Inside Lacrosse Top 25 High School Power Rankings, kept its undefeated record intact, pulling out a hard-fought 12-11 win over the host Bruins at rainy Robert L. Cosby Field.
Brunswick, which entered the matchup ranked 11th in the nation, sports a record of 9-2, with its other loss coming against Lawrenceville School.
“It was a great game between two heavyweights and they just made one more play than we did, it’s as simple as that,” Brunswick coach David Bruce said. “They’re a very good team. It was fun, that’s why you want to play lacrosse at Brunswick to play teams like that and have games like that.”
The game was a late addition on the rivals’ schedule, as the date wasn’t set until this past weekend. Both squads jumped out the chance to face each other. Deerfield improved its record to 5-0 with the triumph.
“That was one of the most fun games I’ve ever been a part of,” Brunswick junior goalie Luke Schlank said. “We were a little bit sloppy in the first half, but we held it together. We held them to just three goals in the second half.”
The Bruins faced a 6-2 deficit after the first quarter, then closed to within 9-7 at halftime. Senior attack Coulter Mackesy recorded a hat trick with one assist, while senior midfielder Lucas Delgado scored two goals for the Bruins.
“It was fun, especially in this weather, it was a battle,” Mackesy said. “We’ve been in a lot of battles and we knew we could come back and have a chance at the end. We just couldn’t finish down the stretch.”
Trailing 9-7, Brunswick closed to within a goal when senior midfielder Luke Waters scored off a pass from sophomore attack Jackson Wolfram with 8:42 left in the third quarter. After Deerfield goalie Michael Scharfenberger made several saves in goal during an two-minute span, Mackesy made it 9-9, tallying off a feed from Waters at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter.
Senior midfielder Antonio Topouzis spun away from a defender and put a shot past Schlank from five yards out, giving Deerfield a 10-9 edge with 5:51 to go in the third stanza. A Deerfield goal with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter increased its advantage to 11-9. Forcing a Deerfield turnover, junior midfielder Will Donovan moved the ball up the field, leading to a goal from Delgado with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
Behind 12-10, in the fourth quarter, Mackesy scored off a dodge with 8:37 to go in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins couldn’t tally the elusive equalizer. Scharfenberger, a senior, made several key stops in goal during the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We had a couple of chances and we just let a couple of mistakes hurt us at the end,” Mackesy said. “We know we can compete with any team we step on the field with no matter what their ranking is. It just how we play that matters. I thought we had a good first half, except for a couple of turnovers that they turned into goals. We knew if we limited the turnovers in the second half we could win the game.”
Delgado and senior attack Tommy Quinson tallied in the first quarter for Brunswick, while Deerfield scored six times during the opening quarter, with two goals coming from Schutz. Five different players scored for the Bruins in their five-goal second quarter.
“We played a couple of teams as good, but not as physical as Deerfield and typically, we come out and be the aggressor,” Bruce said. “I think we were over aggressive to start and didn’t let the game come to us enough. Deerfield came out firing and looked great.”
Waters, junior Myles Spiess, Donovan and Quinson had one goal apiece for Brunswick. Senior faceoff man Blake Burchill gathered three ground balls, while junior midfielder Owen Guest and junior defender Charlie Johnson had two ground balls for the home team.
“The second half, we just tried to calm down and said let’s support each other defensively, let’s take better shots offensively and take some time off the clock offensively,” Bruce said.
Deerfield travels to Avon Old Farms on Saturday, while Brunswick visits Salisbury School – another NEPSAC rival.
“That is a huge one for us,” Mackesy said. “Us seniors have never beaten them so that will be a fun one.”
Said Schlank: “It is a revenge game for us and we are hoping to show why we are one of the best teams in the country.”