BROOKFIELD — It was the final regular-season tune-up for two boys soccer teams already locked into their spots in the South-West Conference playoffs, but the fact that Monday night’s non-conference clash between Pomperaug and Brookfield high schools had no bearing on the upcoming SWC tournament did nothing to quell either team’s intensity.
If anything, it felt like the playoffs had started a few days early.
Led by two second-half goals by Jonathan DaSilva, Brookfield defeated Pomperaug 3-2 to head into the postseason on a high note.
“It was a great win,” DaSilva said. “It’s always a good fight against that team. We played them a couple weeks ago and it was just as close. We got some fans out today, and we put in a good performance in our last game before playoffs. It was a good test and a good fight, and we managed to get the win, which is nice.”
The SWC quarterfinals are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Coincidentally, Brookfield and Pomperaug finished tied for second in the SWC standings, but Brookfield won the tiebreaker between the two courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Pomperaug on Oct. 12 in a similarly hard-found battle.
The Bobcats are set to host seventh-seeded Masuk in the quarterfinals on Friday at 7 p.m. Third-seeded Pomperaug will host the sixth seed — either Newtown, Joel Barlow or Notre Dame of Fairfield — on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
“We’re just looking forward to the playoffs,” Pomperaug coach Joe Mancini said. “I know this is a non-league game, but it would have helped us in terms of states. But they’re a good team, and we battled. Hopefully, this burns a little fire under them for the SWCs.”
The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, with Jack O’Brien scoring the first of his two goals for Pomperaug off an assist from Jaden Hozer in the 10th minute and Kent Eannarino netting the equalizer for Brookfield off a sensational pass from Ian Belles in the 37th minute.
DaSilva then scored his two goals less than five minutes apart early in the second half — one off an assist from Logan Scribner in the 50th minute, and the other off an assist from Michael Bento in the 54th — to put the Bobcats ahead to stay.
Pomperaug came on strong later in the second half and drew within a goal when O’Brien cashed in from a sharp angle, again off an assist from Hozer, in the 62nd minute. That was as close as the Panthers came, however.
Brookfield goalkeeper Jakob Mamudi made one save to seal the victory, while Pomperaug’s Nathan Barstrom made two saves.
For the third straight season, Brookfield will play Masuk in the SWC quarterfinals. Last year, Masuk beat Brookfield on its way to an appearance in the title match, and two years ago, Brookfield beat Masuk on its way to its third SWC crown in eight years.
For what it’s worth, Brookfield won this year’s regular-season clash with Masuk 3-2 on Sept. 17.
“(Masuk coach) Tony Viscuso runs a really tight ship there,” Brookfield coach David Lavery said. “They’re a very physical team, they’re very strong and they’re very direct. You know what you’re going to get when you play against them, but you don’t like what you get when you play against them. The boys know they’re in for a battle, and if they’re not willing to stand up to it emotionally and physically, they’re going to get beat up.”
Pomperaug’s quarterfinal opponent will be decided by Wednesday’s game between New Fairfield and Newtown at Blue and Gold Stadium at 6 p.m.
Of course, there is a chance that Brookfield and Pomperaug could meet in the SWC final. If Monday’s game is any indication, that would be one heck of a battle.
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Brookfield 3, Pomperaug 2
Goals: Pomperaug: Jack O’Brien (from Jaden Hozer), 10:00. Brookfield: Kent Eannarino (from Ian Belles), 37:00. Brookfield: Jonathan DaSilva (from Logan Scribner), 50:00. Brookfield: Jonathan DaSilva (from Michael Bento), 54:00. Pomperaug: Jack O’Brien (from Jaden Hozer), 62:00. Shots: Pomperaug 8, Brookfield 13. Saves: Pomperaug: Nathan Barstrom 2; Brookfield: Jakob Mamudi 1.