Currently testing its skills in the ultra-competitive Beast of the East tournament in Pennsylvania, the Greenwich High School boys water polo team is on pace to continue the program’s storied legacy – one that features a wealth of winning moments in pools throughout the region.
The Cardinals entered the 32-team Beast of the East competition sporting a 6-0 record, defeating opponents such as Loyola, Maryland, Naval Aquatic Club, Episcopal Academy and Staples High School, along the way. The Beast of the East tournament began yesterday and is scheduled to conclude today. If the bracket goes according to form, Greenwich could play neighborhood rival Brunswick in the championship game of the Beast of the East.
“The Beast of the East is the biggest high school tournament outside of California,” said Greenwich coach Jimmy Ramaley, who is in his fifth season at the helm. “We kind of outline the season in sections. So this month is kind of focused on the Beast of the East.”
Though Greenwich had a season in 2020, it was shortened and modified due to COVID-19 restrictions, which meant it played games primarily against local opponents. This season, the Cardinals have already traveled to the United States Naval Academy in Anapolis, Maryland for the Battle of the Beltways. They will head to the Naval Academy twice more – for the Anapolis Classic (Oct. 16-17) and the Mid-Atlantic Championships (Nov. 13-14). Also on Greenwich’s schedule is the Steve Pal Tournament, which takes place in Irvine, California Oct. 22-23.
“These kids are seniors that missed a big junior year are really amped up that they’re going to have a normal season,” said Ramaley, whose Cardinals posted a 28-3 record when they had their last full season in 2019.
Paul Laufenberg, Eduardo Soares and Michael Dilascia are the Cardinals’ senior captains. Laufenberg is the squad’s starting goalie.
“The best aspect is being a leader of the team on the defensive side,” said Laufenberg, whose older brother Kyle, a 2020 GHS graduate, also played goalie on the squad. “It’s important to communicate with them. It’s fun being the last line of defense. They have your back, you have yours. It’s good to be a goalie, because that is the one position that is specific to defense.”
Said Ramaley: “Paul is a great leader and is very confident. Our defense has been pretty solid, only allowing about six goals a game.”
Laufenberg is impressed with the skill-level, intensity and teamwork he’s seen from the team early on in the season.
“Our starters are very strong, this is one of the best teams Greenwich High School has ever had,” Laufenberg said. “They do great things together and they know what is coming up and what’s in each other’s head. They are great players together in the pool.”
The fall water polo season is a time of year Laufenberg especially enjoys.
“There is something about high school water polo that I am so excited for each year,” said Laufenberg, who also competes for Greenwich Aquatics and Rocky Point Club. “The team, the coaches, the atmosphere it brings.”
A lefty, Soares helps the Cardinals control the pace of the game with his passing skills, experience and savvy in the pool. He’s one of the facilitators of the offense.
He also relishes his role as one of the Cards’ captains.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” Soares said. “Greenwich High School has a long history of very decorated and very talented captains. So I’m really proud to represent my school and represent this team.”
Among some of the graduates from Greenwich’s 2020 team were Tom Cass, who is playing water polo at the University of California Irvine, Jack Bruce (playing at Bucknell), Filip Norell (competing at Pacific University), Manuel Pemberthy (Pacific) and Jack Holl (playing at Penn State). The Cardinals are relying heavily on their starting players this season, while the younger players gain valuable experience.
“I think we have a very high ceiling,” Soares said. “We lost a lot of talent from last year – we lost five of our six starters – who are all playing in college. But we have a lot of guys playing water polo, who came up through the club system that can make an impact on this team, so I’m really excited for what this season holds.”
The squad’s fastest swimmer, Dilascia helps lead the team on counterattacks and is a solid passer and goal-scorer.
“Being a captain feels great,” Dilascia said. “When I was a freshman, I always looked up to the seniors, especially the captains, and I think it’s my duty to be a role model like the captains before me and I really like to motivate the younger kids.”
One of the ways the Cards’ utilize Dilascia’s speed is using him on all of the swim-offs. He is pleased with how the team has performed through its first part of the season.
“Our trip down to the Naval Academy was great,” he said. “W played well together as a team and showed our chemistry pretty well.”
Junior center Chase Wilson has ignited Greenwich’s offense. Through the first six games, Wilson registered a team-best 26 goals.
“Chase Wilson one of the best centers in the country, who is looking to go to some of the top programs in the country,” Ramaley said. “If you don’t double-team him, he is going to score.”
Complementing Wilson at the center position is senior Maxmine Touzot (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), who is the Cards’ second-leading scorer.
“He has played at a high level in Europe,” Ramaley said of Touzot. “Both centers are hard to move around. With those two guys I don’t think anyone can guard them straight up.”
Junior Charlie Kosinski add quickness and shooting accuracy to the team, while Colby Goldstein returns as an experienced senior, as does Dawson Clark – who brings a significant defensive presence.
Following the Beast of the East competition, Greenwich hosts Greenwich Aquatics (Sept. 29), then will hold its Cardinal Tournament (Oct. 8-9), where it hopes to play Brunswick. Greenwich also visits Brunswick on Oct. 29.