Brunswick School

Brunswick School water polo team tops rival Greenwich in championship game of 47th annual Cardinal Tournament

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Ryan Ohl, William Ewald, Vilas Sogaard-Srikrishnan and Ryan Miele are senior captains of the Brunswick School water polo team. They helped lead the Bruins to victory at the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament, held October 7-8, 2022, at Greenwich High School.

The West Coast, particularly, California, has some of the premier high school water polo teams in the nation, but there are a pair of programs in Connecticut with the ability to compete in the sport at a national level.

Greenwich-based Brunswick School and Greenwich High School are known for having outstanding water polo programs and for the past five seasons they have built quite a rivalry.

The Bruins and Cardinals usually overpower their Connecticut competitors, in fact, the only time they’ve lost a match in-state in recent seasons has been when they faced each other.

Playing each other in championship games of tournaments is the norm for Greenwich and Brunswick, which have squared off in the title game of the Cardinal Tournament several straight seasons and met in the Beast of the East Tournament in Pennsylvania in recent years.

Saturday night, before a packed house at Greenwich High School, Brunswick and Greenwich played for the title at the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament. The much-anticipated matchup marked the fourth consecutive meeting between the two teams in the tournament’s championship game and Brunswick maintained its hold on the Cardinal Tournament title.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Chris Killeen, left, looks to shoot while being defended during a match against Brunswick at the 47th Cardinal Tournament on October 8, 2022, at Greenwich High School.

Limiting Greenwich to two second-half goals, Brunswick captured its fourth consecutive Cardinal Tournament championship, registering a 12-6 victory over the Cardinals in the tournament’s title game on Saturday night.

“We played as a unit today, we played with one heartbeat,” said Vilas Sogaard-Srkrishnan, one of the Bruins’ four captains. “When one person was about to shoot, we were back on defense. We were super fluid, everyone was passing it around to each other. We are all brother’s on the team, we’re all family and that’s what keeps us close and keeps us motivated.”

At the 2021 Cardinal Tournament, JP Ohl recorded six goals to lead Brunswick to a 14-6 triumph against Greenwich in the title game. JP Ohl graduated from Brunswick this past spring and is playing water polo at Princeton, so Saturday, it was his younger brother Ryan who sparked the Bruins’ offense. Ryan Ohl, a senior captain, totaled six goals for Brunswick, which led GHS 5-3 after the first quarter, before gaining separation in the second quarter.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick’s Vilas Sogaard-Srikrishnan (No. 10) looks for an opening while being defended by Andrew Lowe of Greenwich during the championship game of the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament on Oct. 8, 2022.

Sogaard-Srikrishnan, a senior, scored two goals, as did senior Patrick Mullen for Brunswick, which posted a record of 4-0 at the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament.

“We love to play at the Cardinal Tournament,” Brunswick coach Ulmis Iordache said. “They do a such a good job at putting together this tournament. There’s a lot of passion for water polo and it’s a good high school atmosphere for water polo, it’s always fun. The alumni show up and it’s a great high school sport event.”

Greenwich, which last won its own Cardinal Tournament in 2016, was paced by senior co-captain Charlie Kosinski, who tallied three goals. Like the Bruins, the Cardinal are in the midst of a standout season, having registered more than 15 victories, while losing just three games. All three of Greenwich’s losses have come against neighborhood foe Brunswick. The Bruins defeated the Cardinals, 11-8, in the championship matchup at the Beast of the East Tournament at Wilson High School in Pennsylvania on September 24. Brunswick then notched a 17-14 comeback home win over Greenwich on Sept. 30, before Saturday’s victory against GHS at the Cardinal Tournament.

Greenwich water polo coach Jimmy Ramaley gathers his team together at halftime of its game against Brunswick.

“The tournament was great,” Greenwich coach Jimmy Ramaley said. “It was cool to see how into it everyone was and the town. It was nice to see the turnout and the water polo that was played. The amount of Division I players that are going to play at a high level just in the championship game, not to mention the third-place game, is pretty ridiculous.”

Greenwich finished with a record of 3-1 in its own tournament. The Cards started action in the tournament with an 11-7 win against Brunswick’s B team, then rolled to a 16-2 triumph against Suffield Academy. In the tournament’s semifinals, Greenwich defeated Greenwich Aquatics, another formidable program in town, 19-11.

As for playing rival Brunswick three weeks in a row, with two of the games being tournament finals?

“It’s incredible to have two teams that strong play each other that often,” Ramaley said. “Brunswick is a top-10 team in the nation, so there is no shame in losing to them, they’re great.”

Brunswick’s Ryan Ohl looks for an opening to shoot while being guarded by Greenwich’s Luke Mendelsohn.

Brunswick, which sports a record of 17-3 on the season, was victorious against Staples, 25-14, in the opening round of the Cardinal Tournament. They topped Phillips Exeter in their second game, 14-4, before taking a 21-13 decision from CT Premier in the semifinals.

“Our job as a team is to improve every year,” Brunswick senior goalie/captain Ryan Miele said. “When we started this program about 15 years ago, we never dreamed of playing in this tournament. And now we everyone keeps getting better and better. The progression is truly incredible to see.”

Indeed, when Brunswick first appeared in the Cardinal Tournament in the mid 2000s, it was a team finding its way and it was a challenge the squad to advance or make a mark in the tournament. In 2018, the Bruins won their first title at the Cardinal Tournament and have been the team to beat since.

Greenwich’s Will Hanna looks to pass the ball while being defended by Brunswick’s Patrick Mullen during the championship game of the Cardinal Tournament at Greenwich High School on Oct. 8, 2022, in Greenwich.

Senior captain William Ewald and sophomore Adam Blum added one goal apiece for the Bruins, who came out strong in the third quarter against the Cards.

“We’ve been improving and we are putting east coast water polo on the map,” Ewald said. “Now, we’re top-10 in the country. “When we play as a unit, no one can beat us. We are going to prove to everyone we’re the best.”

In Saturday’s tournament final, after the Bruins took a 1-0 lead, the Cardinals tied it on a goal from senior Ioane Maglakeldize. The Bruins took the lead for good at 2-1 when Ohl converted a penalty shot with 5:38 remaining in the first quarter.

Two straight goals, one of which was scored by Ewald, put the Bruins on top, 4-1. A goal by Kosinski brought GHS to within 4-2, then Ohl tallied again, making it 5-2. Shooting low, Kosinski tallied, pulling Greenwich to within 5-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

Early in the second quarter, GHS cut Brunswick’s advantage to 5-4 on another Kosinksi goal, but the visitors ended the quarter with three straight goals to enter halftime with an 8-4 edge.

Sogaard-Srikrishnan scored a pair of goals, while Mullen converted a shot to put the Bruins ahead by four goals at the half.

Fans filled the stands to watch the championship game of the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament between Greenwich and Brunswick on Oct. 8, 2022, at Greenwich High School.

“The boys tonight clicked together on defense, they helped each other in the best way,” Iordache said of his squad’s performance. “Ryan Ohl was the top scorer and he did a great job of finishing a lot of times. Ryan Miele was outstanding in goal.”

In the second half, the Bruins extended their lead behind goals from Ohl, Mullen and Blum.

“Our big players showed up and we locked down their best player,” Sogaard-Srikrishnan said. “In general, our team did what we had to do and we are so lucky to play in this tournament.”

Senior co-captain Chase Wilson and Kosinski had a goal apiece in the second half for Greenwich. Wilson, who is headed to Pepperdine where he will play water polo, is one of the squad’s leading scorers, along with Kosinski. Brunswick focused its attention on tightly defending Wilson, who is known as one of the top hole sets in the country.

“Today was tough, Brunswick does a good job of guarding our setter Chase Wilson,” Ramaley said. “Last time, he scored four goals and drew eight kickouts, so they really did a good job of preventing the ball to get into him.”

Greenwich gathers during a timeout at the finals of the 47th annual Cardinal Tournament against Brunswick School.

Both Brunswick and Greenwich are taking their skills to the West Coast soon, as they will compete against premier teams from California. The trip will be the Bruins’ second of the season to California. They played in the Santa Barbara Invitational last month in California, which is where their only three losses of the season came.

“We went out to California once already this season and we beat the No. 1 team in the country. We’re going back out there next weekend and are going to play top- five teams in the country. A lot of kids on our team going off to college and are going to play at the Division I level. It’s really great to see East Coast water polo exploding like this.”

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