Brunswick School’s soccer team’s schedule this atypical fall season includes a handful of scrimmages, but according to coach Danny Simpson, the Bruins players have exhibited the same enthusiasm they showed during pre-COVID-19 seasons.
“We have had nothing but productivity from all of the games we have competed in,” said Simpson, who is in his fourth season at the helm. “They are playing a nice brand of football and they are playing as if we are playing in a normal, regular season.”
The NEPSAC canceled its interscholastic regular season and postseason schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but teams are allowed to practice each day and hold scrimmages.
“Our team started preseason on Aug. 31 and the kids have responded very well,” Simpson said. “They are giving the same effort as they would have done in a regular season. The dedication to training and pushing themselves is very impressive.”
The Bruins have played Cheshire Academy, Greens Farms Academy and Greenwich Country Day so far and have remaining scrimmages against Cheshire Academy and Greens Farms again, along with a matchup versus King.
“Brunswick’s Head of School (Tom Philip) and our athletic director (Ron VanBelle) have made sure that we can keep the season as real as can be,” Simpson said. “From the very beginning, we wanted to make sure their mental health is strong, their physical health is strong and they enjoy the season. We want to have a good time and make sure they are pushed.”
The Bruins, who are playing and training on the school’s new artificial turf field, are captained by seniors Aaryan Chinai and Freddy Gazal, roles that were filled by class of 2020 graduates Henry Foster, Steve Lopez and Eric Meindl last season.
A dynamic playmaker, Chinai, a midfielder sparked the Bruins offensively a year ago, scoring numerous goals, while creating plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Gazal is playing forward, after patrolling the midfield the majority of the squad’s 2019 campaign. The 2019 season also saw Gazal help lead the team to victory with clutch tallies.
“In these times we have leaned a lot on the captains to help lift the mood of the players,” Simpson said. “Off the field, these captains have also been fantastic in that area. Everyone is developing under their true leadership. They have also done a great job of talking players through certain situations and guiding them on what could have been done.”
Among some of the returning seniors are Brooks Ferguson and Andrew Breckenridge. Ferguson is an experienced defender, while Breckenridge produced impressive results while sharing the goalkeeping duties with Meindl last season.
“Brooks has been fantastic across the board and Andrew has been there before and knows what it takes to be successful in goal,” Simpson said.
Nico Montoni is one of the Bruins’ juniors that’s solidified the forward position.
“Nico’s been great at leading the line and helping everyone up front,” Simpson said. “These players have been great with how much they are helping the younger kids on our team.”
Each game they’ve played, Brunswick has been able to get every one of its 26 athletes on the field.
“We are developing the players and keeping very consistent with what we want to teach,” said Simpson, who is assisted by Christopher Forester and Jonathan Kaptcianos. “Credit to our athletic director, who has made a great effort to get games for our team and our kids for treating the season as if it were a normal season.”