The preseason rankings, featuring the Top 25 boys high school lacrosse teams in the nation, were recently released and it certainly wasn’t surprising to see Brunswick atop the list of two major, national polls.
Brunswick accomplished plenty during its 2022 season, registering a 15-1 record, winning the New England West I Conference championship and capturing the title at the inaugural Prep Nationals Tournament. With a wealth of talent, experience, skill and leadership returning from last season’s championship squad, the Bruins were ranked No. 1 in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 25 list for 2023 and were also the top-ranked team in the nation in the 2023 Inside Lacrosse Top 25 Power Rankings.
Of course, pressure is attached to being the preseason choice as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but the Bruins seem to be ready to face their formidable foes and are determined to duplicate last season’s success.
“Being ranked No. 1 brings lofty expectations,” said Brunswick School coach David Bruce, who has posted a coaching record of 207-54 during his tenure with the Bruins. “I’m not sure if we’re there right now, but time will tell. We needed to win the first one to feel better about ourselves.”
That first win Bruce referenced came Saturday when the Bruins began their 2023 campaign, one they hope, will end with another championship. Brunswick opened its season with a decisive 14-6 win over visiting St. Sebastian’s School from Massachusetts at rainy Cosby Field.
“I thought we played well,” Bruce said. “We were a little dinged up coming back from Florida (the team’s preseason training trip) but we got a couple of middies back and we moved the ball well. I thought we played really solid defensively. St. Sebastian’s is a really good team from the east, this is the first time we played against them.”
Tomas Delgado, Luke Michalik and Hunter Spiess are continuing the program’s tradition of possessing senior captains with outstanding skills and leadership abilities.
“The captains have been fabulous,” Bruce said. “They are setting a great tone for the rest of the team. Over the years, we have been really lucky to have had good ones and this group of three equals all the captains we’ve had before.”
Delgado is a midfielder and will be looked upon to help ignite the Bruins’ offense, while Spiess and Michalik are experienced defenders. The trio will play lacrosse at the Division I level next season. Delgado is headed to Duke University, Michalik will play the sport at Yale and Spiess will continue his lacrosse career at Princeton.
“It is an honor to be a captain of this team, it’s a big responsibility,” said Michalik, who recently concluded a championship basketball season for Brunswick. “Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure this year coming in as the No. 1 team. For us, it’s about motivating the guys each day to be their best. We want to be the best team we can be each practice, each game.”
In the Bruins’ 14-6 triumph against St. Sebastian’s yesterday, senior attack Jackson Wolfram, who will play at Brown University next season, scored a game-high six goals to power the home team in its season-opener. Delgado recorded a hat trick, while junior attackman Max Warden (headed to Brown) tallied twice for Brunswick, which also received goals from junior attack Payton Anderson (committed to play at Syracuse), senior midfielder Leo Hoffman (will play lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania), freshman attack Lucas Garcia and senior midfielder Patrick Mullen, who will take his lacrosse skills to Bucknell.
St. Sebastian’s scored the game’s first goal and held a 3-2 lead, but Brunswick seized control, going on an 9-0 run to claim a comfortable 10-3 advantage.
“It was a great game,” Delgado said. “St. Sebastian’s is a strong team, they came out really strong in the first, but I thought we bounced right back. The offense was firing and the defense settled in. We played from whistle from whistle and played a full game.”
Following a stellar start, St. Sebastian’s couldn’t generate too much offensively against the Bruins’ physical, tough, defensive unit.
“Once we settled in, we started playing really aggressive and our 10-man ride was pretty strong,” said Hunter Spiess, whose brother Myles, played on the squad last season and is attending the University of Chicago. “Once we settled in, we were really strong. They (St. Sebastian’s) have a great group of guys, they are a great team, so I’m super excited about how well we played.”
Hoffman tallied off a dodge, tying the score at 3-3 against St. Sebastian’s, then Wolfram gave the Bruins the lead for good, picking up a ground ball, before converting a shot from approximately 10 yards out, making it 4-2 late in the first quarter. Receiving a pass from Mullen, Wolfram broke free from a St. Sebastian’s defender and scored again, putting the Bruins on top, 5-3, after the first quarter of play.
“They were a strong team, but we ride hard and we got the ground balls and wore them down throughout the game,” Michalik noted.
Brunswick, which finished the 2022 season as the No. 2 ranked team in the country, continued to roll in the second quarter versus St. Sebastian’s. Delgado tallied twice, Anderson converted a perimeter shot, Wolfram snapped a laser past St. Sebastian’s goalie and Warden scored, giving the home team a commanding 11-3 halftime lead.
On the other end of the field, Brunswick received impressive play from junior Tucker Williams (a Brown commit) in goal and its defensemen were on point.
The Bruins visit Malvern Prep on Thursday, then return home Saturday for a 3 p.m. matchup against New England West I Division rival Deerfield Academy. A 6:30 p.m. showdown against non-conference rival Darien is scheduled to take place on April 6 at Darien.
Wolfram, who is in his third season as one of the squad’s leading attackmen, Garcia, Warden and Sean Ryan are among some of the numerous athletes that should pace the Bruins’ attack.
“We have talent on attack, we’re trying to figure out who gives us the biggest punch,” Bruce noted.
Delgado, Hoffman, junior Hudson Hausmann (Brown commit), Anderson, senior Will Erdmann (will play lacrosse at the University of Virginia) and Mullen are among some of the midfielders the Bruins will rely upon for production.
“I trust every single player with the ball in their stick,” said Delgado, who was a captain of Brunswick’s championship football team this past fall. “Today (yesterday’s season-opener) we were sharing the ball really well. We were dodging, moving and placing. We had a lot of assisted goals, which is always a good thing. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Spiess, Michalik, junior Robert Plath and junior Luke Hublitz (Virginia commit) are some of the Bruins’ defensemen who should make it difficult for the opposition to generate goals.
“We have a lot of depth on defense and throughout our team,” said Hunter Spiess, whose brother Tucker, a sophomore, is also a defender. “On defense, we pack it in and also play super aggressive. There is a lot of communication among us, which is something we’ve been working on a lot.”
Said Michalik: “Our defensive unit is deep as always. We want to talk a lot and always be physical.”
Williams begins his first season in goal for the Bruins, who topped Lawrenceville School, 12-6, in the championship game of the Prep Nationals tournament, held at Cosby Field.
“Tucker Williams, he’s great, he’s terrific,” Bruce said. “We have a really good core group of players coming back.”
Brunswick has won the New England West I Division title four times since it joined the division in 2006, capturing the title in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2022.
On the national stage, the Bruins have finished in the top-10 in the nation seven times (8th in 1998, 9th in 2014, 4th in 2017, 6th in 2018, 10th in 2019, 4th in 2021 and 2nd in 2022).
“For us, it’s about one game at a time, one practice at a time and one play at a time,” Michalik said. “Hopefully, at the end of it we can look back and say it was a special season.”
Hunter Spiess said: “We’re focusing on individual practices, games and plays and if we do that, hopefully it will result in an exciting end result.”
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