Brunswick School’s lacrosse team entered today’s championship game of the Prep Nationals tournament ranked second in the nation with an impressive record of 14-1, yet the squad believed it was still capable of unleashing its best lacrosse on its final foe of the season.
Well, Lawrenceville School from New Jersey certainly received an up close look at the Bruins playing their absolute best.
Displaying continuity on offense and intensity on defense, top-seeded Brunswick produced the 48 minutes of outstanding lacrosse it was seeking, as it registered a decisive 12-6 victory over Lawrenceville before a big, enthusiastic crowd at sunny Cosby Field.
“That’s about as perfect as we can play and our best game of the year came at the last game, so it was a nice way to end,” said Brunswick coach David Bruce, who achieved the 200-career coaching win milestone this season. “We had moments of really good quarters and halves, we played well this season. But it’s very hard for a high school team to play a complete game and this was a complete game for us. It seemed like our guys seemed fresh the whole time and were in control the whole time.”
Brunswick, which posted a 15-11 road win against Lawrenceville on April 13, was powered offensively by senior Henry Caponiti, junior Tomas Delgado, senior Chris Gaine, sophomore Payton Anderson and sophomore Hudson Hausmann.
The first quarter ended in a 3-3 tie, then the Bruins seized the momentum in the second quarter and carried it thereafter.
“It feels awesome, this was our goal coming into the season,” said the Georgetown-bound Caponiti. “We knew there would be really good teams in this tournament. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win Prep Nationals. This was our national championship.”
The Bruins advanced to the title game by downing rival Salisbury School, 11-7, on Friday night at Cosby Field. Lawrenceville made it to the finals by defeating Deerfield in the other semifinal-round matchup.
The host Bruins went into the Prep Nationals ranked No. 2 in the country in the Inside Lacrosse National High School rankings.
“We believe we’re the best team in the country,” Caponiti said. “It feels awesome to accomplish our goal with all of my best friends. Coach Bruce said we saved our best game for our last. We played a complete game. It was the best way for our seniors to go out.”
Junior midfielder Leo Hoffman opened the game’s scoring, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead 42 seconds into the first quarter. The Big Red responded with a goal at the 8:26 mark, tying the score at 1-1.
Lawrenceville took a 2-1 lead with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter, then Caponiti knotted the score, tallying with 6:40 to go, after the home team came up with a defensive stop.
The visitors went ahead, 3-2, with a goal at the 4:39 mark of opening quarter, but Delgado made it 3-3 by converting a shot from close in with 3:38 left in the quarter.
“All season we’ve been waiting to play a complete game and we saved that for today,” Delgado said. “On offense, we took our time, we found our matchups. I’m happy with how the guys played. We played a complete game and it felt good to finish that one out.”
In the second quarter, Brunswick took the lead for good at 4-2, when Anderson converted a shot early in the frame.
“We moved the ball around real well, we had tons of energy, we were dodging off the second pass and we had open shots,” Anderson said. “Winning this title feels amazing, we had a great year. We had a tough loss, but we bounced back and we did it for the seniors. I couldn’t ask for anything else, it’s a great group of guys.”
Gaine scored off a strong cut to the goal, making it 5-3 with 9:10 to go in the second quarter, then Anderson found the back of the net with a shot despite falling to the artificial turf with 6:36 remaining.
“We have playmakers, we have some of the best players in the country, we have a good scheme and we really changed things up coming into this weekend,” Gaine said. “We were able to execute, which we have been doing all season.”
The hosts entered halftime with a 7-3 lead, which it added on to once the second half commenced. Caponiti scored off a catch-and-shoot 33 seconds into the third quarter and junior Hunter Spiess notched a third-quarter goal, giving the Bruins a comfortable 9-3 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Big Red, who scored three goals in the first quarter, had trouble getting clear shots on goal and tallying the rest of the game. They were held scoreless in the second quarter and managed just one goal in the third stanza.
“They have a really, really talented offense so we went over the game plan and we had a couple of issues early on but then we figured it out and we held them to a pretty low score,” said Brunswick senior defender/captain Will Donovan, who is soon headed to Notre Dame, where he will play lacrosse. I’m so proud of the defense, we stayed poised.”
Hausmann had a goal and Delgado tallied twice in the fourth quarter for the Bruins, who received another standout effort in goal from goalie/captain Luke Schlank, who will soon be heading to Georgetown.
“The first quarter, they scored three goals right away, then we kind of locked in focused and took it from there and played great defense and great offense,” Schlank said. “Our faceoff guy did an amazing job today, he controlled the X, which was super helpful.”
Indeed, junior FOGO Andrew Greenspan was impressive once again for the Bruins, enabling them to control the ball and keep Lawrenceville on the defensive.
Playing their second game in three days, the Bruins didn’t look like a tired team at all, as they were the aggressor throughout.
“Even in the heat, playing our second game in three days, our team pulled together and got 48 minutes of really great lacrosse and I think it reflected with a dominant scoreline against a really good team,” said Bruins defender Charlie Johnson, who like his fellow seniors, graduated this week. “It came down to taking a second, breathing, appreciating we were here and knowing the amount of cohesiveness and talent we have on the field. The bottom line is, when we are on our home field, it is really tough to beat us when we’re playing with the knowledge of how good we really could be.”
Junior Luke Michalik was also a pivotal part of the Bruins’ effective defensive unit.
“After losing against Salisbury, the team was riled up and to come out and win this for the seniors, it’s a great feeling to do this in front of the home crowd too,” Michalik said. “Coach said it well, we saved our best game for our last. I’m so happy for this team and the seniors.”
The 2022 season will be a championship campaign the Bruins will cherish – especially the seniors.
“I’m going to miss these guys,” Donovan said. “Being a part of this team, it has taught me more life lessons that I can count. It’s pretty bittersweet playing on this field for the last time and being in the locker room for pregame and postgame for the last time.”
Said the Duke-bound Johnson: “It’s still hard to believe that this chapter of my life has closed, but it’s been a true honor to spend the last four years with my teammates and coach Bruce. I’m happy with how I left it and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”