Holding a three-goal fourth-quarter lead in the title game of the Prep Nationals Championship, defending champion Brunswick School was on the cusp of experiencing a sweet repeat, yet rival Lawrenceville School had one more run in it – a rally that forced overtime in the much-anticipated lacrosse showdown.
Anything can happen once a game goes into overtime and Lawrenceville, the No. 1 ranked team in the country, made it happen. The Big Red scored with 3:06 remaining in double overtime, earning a dramatic 14-13 win over the host Bruins at crowded Cosby Field in the Prep Nationals final on Sunday.
The game was a rematch of the 2022 Prep Nationals tournament final, won by Brunswick, 12-6. The Bruins finished their 2023 campaign with a record of 13-4 and No. 5 ranking in the Nike/USA Lacrosse National Boys Top 25 High School rankings. Lawrenceville, which posted an 11-9 victory over the host Bruins during the regular season, concluded its season at 19-1 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.
“I told them at the end of the game how proud I was,” Brunswick coach David Bruce said of his squad. “We were playing our best lacrosse in May. Hats off to Lawrenceville. They deserve not only Prep Nationals, but they’re the No. 1 team in the country and they sealed that with the victory.”
Indeed, Brunswick entered the championship matchup on a high, having won eight straight games since starting the season with a 5-3 mark. The Bruins lost a one-goal game to Darien, a two-goal contest to New Jersey-based Lawrenceville and a one-goal matchup to Taft during the first part of the season.
“We didn’t play like we were capable of playing during parts of the season, but we were played our best lacrosse in May,” Brunswick coach David Bruce said. “The team rallied, they never gave up and we battled. We knew this was going to be an awesome game.”
This season was not like season’s past for the Bruins, who competed without several key players, who were sidelined with injuries the majority of the season and suffered several close losses.
“Not a lot of Brunswick teams have to come back from adversity,” Brunswick senior midfielder/captain Tomas Delgado said. “But we lost three during the season – it’s a not a position that a lot of Brunswick teams are put into. This team fought back, I’m so proud of these guys. There’s so much character, so much skill on this team.”
Junior attack Casey Quinson scored a team-high five goals to pace the Bruins’ offense. Delgado tallied twice for Brunswick, which trailed Lawrenceville, 3-1, following the first quarter, before heading into halftime with a 6-3 advantage.
“There were some low moments in the season, but we never quit on ourselves, we never quit on each other,” Brunswick senior defender/captain Luke Michalik said. “It’s a disappointing end, but we fought all the way and never gave up. We are proud of what we did.”
After a scoreless first overtime, which featured four minutes of intense action, Lawrenceville tallied the game-winner 54 seconds into the second overtime on a shot from approximately 10 yards out.
“Anything happens in overtime, they won a key faceoff when they needed to and scored,” Bruce said. “I thought we rushed a little bit on our possession in overtime. The defense played great and it was just a great high school game. We had our chances. They made the stops when they needed to.”
The Big Red scored the title game’s first two goals, then Delgado put the Bruins on the scoreboard with a tally at the 7:51 mark of the third quarter. A goal by Lawrenceville off a dodge, made it 3-1 after the opening quarter.
Some of the Bruins’ best moments came when they outscored the Big Red, 5-0 during the second quarter. Quinson converted a shot from five yards out, then senior midfielder Will Erdmann tallied, tying the score at 3-3 with 6:17 remaining in the second quarter.
Senior attack Will Coale, one of the Bruins’ players who battled his way back from a significant injury that sidelined him for much of the season, got past a defender and scored from close in, giving Brunswick a 4-3 lead with 5:41 to go in the second quarter.
Junior midfielder Hudson Hausmann ran from behind the net and snuck a shot past Lawrenceville’s goalie upping the home team’s edge to 5-3 with three minutes to play in the opening half. Quinson capped the Bruins’ impressive second quarter by notching a goal at the 1:34 mark of the second stanza.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with the visitors generating six goals and the Bruins scoring five times. Lawrenceville went on a 3-0 spurt to even the score at 6-6, then Quinson scored again for the Bruins, making it 7-6. With the score knotted at 7-7, the Bruins took a 9-7 advantage when senior midfielder Patrick Mullen and Delgado each tallied.
The Big Red again forged a tie, tallying twice, making it a 9-9 game. However, Brunswick went into the fourth quarter ahead, 11-9, behind goals from Quinson, who sparked the home team throughout. Junior midfielder put Brunswick ahead by three goals again when he scored 17 seconds into the final quarter after senior Andrew Greenspan won a faceoff.
Junior goalie Tucker Williams made a number of saves during the matchup, which saw both squads show a lot of spirit and give every ounce of energy they could muster.
“At the end of the day, if one shot goes our way, one ground ball goes our way, it’s a different outcome,” said Delgado, who will play lacrosse at Duke University next season. “I’m so proud of this team. I’ve been on this team for four years and ther’s nothing like it. We’re a family and it’s one of those special places, where the well being of the team comes first. I’m so proud of these guys this year for bouncing back from adversity.”
Senior captains Hunter Spiess and Michalik helped lead the Bruins’ defensive effort.
“I’m proud of the way our team fought and the brotherhood we have,” said Spiess, who will continue his lacrosse career at Princeton next season. “It’s a special group of guys. It’s a great culture that we’ve had on this team every year I’ve been on it. Everyone is there for each other. We fought through a lot of adversity this year a couple of tough losses early on and I’m proud of the way we came back.”
Said Michalik, who will join Yale’s lacrosse team next season: “I’ve been on this team for three years and each year was special. This team has huge things in store for it in the coming years. The season is over, but we’re brothers and friends for life.”
Categories: Brunswick School, Spring sports
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