Brunswick School has held its own in the ultra-competitive NEPSAC, finishing .500 the past two seasons, while narrowly missing the playoffs.
This fall, the Bruins are aiming for a breakout-type season.
“Our goal this year is to make the playoffs,” Bruins senior tri-captain/centerback Henry Foster said. “We’ve said that since the first day of practice. We want to make the playoffs and to do that, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It’s important for us to push each other to be better.”
Also serving as captains are seniors Steve Lopez and Eric Meindl. Lopez is a starting midfielder and Meindl begins his second season as a starter in goal, so the Bruins are experienced at several positions.
“We graduated a big core of our team, but we still have a lot of players who have been around the sport for a while,” Brunswick coach Danny Simpson said. “It will be a good transition. Some of these guys play soccer year-round.”
Lopez turned in an impressive sophomore season in 2017, but was sidelined all of 2018, after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing in a game for his club team in 2018.
“It was a pretty long process, I was in recovery and rehabilitation for nine months,” Lopez said. “Then I got to play again and it feels great to be back.”
Foster and Lopez should help lead the Bruins defensively and offensively, respectively, while Meindl is geared up for another solid season as a goalie — a position he takes great pride in playing.
“I am in the back, so I see everything going on and I get to direct these guys,” Meindl said. “I can tell them where to be and when to be there. Last year, I had the opportunity to play and this year as well. I hope to carry on the Brunswick tradition.”
Brunswick, which opens its season with a road matchup against Choate Rosemary Hall on Wednesday, has shown positive signs during the preseason.
“We beat four different teams during the preseason and we scored a lot of goals,” Lopez said. “I’m excited about a bunch of new players that we have.”
Added Simpson: “In the preseason, we’ve looked good. We’ve scored goals, which has been a problem for us in the past. The kids are working hard and we are optimistic.”
AT THE HELM: Simpson is beginning his third season as coach of the Bruins. He guided the squad to a record of 8-8-2 last season and 8-8-1 in 2017. Returning as assistant coaches are Jonathan Kaptcianos and Chris Forester.
WHO’S GONE?: Captains Ben Powers (defender), Harry Barringer (goalie/striker) and Ben Israel (defender) graduated, as did defender Jack Withstandley, midfielder AJ Delgado and midfielder Aidan Williams. Chisholm Okpara, who sparked the squad offensively as a freshman in 2018, transferred to a school in Vermont. Christian Barnard was also among some of the graduates.
WHO’S BACK?: Foster brings experience and skill to the backline, while Lopez should help ignite the squad as an attacking midfielder. Meindl made it difficult for the opposition to get shots past him in goal a year ago.
Junior Michael Huber returns to the midfield, while Aaryan Chinai is back at up front. Sophomore John Dunn should aid the team’s defensive effort and sophomore Nico Montoni could be a force at forward. Kyle Raker, a senior, joins the squad, where his presence will be felt at the forward position.
STRENGTHS: “Last year, we had to play a much more defensive style and try to beat teams 1-0, or 2-1, Foster said. “This year, I think we’re going to be a little bit more spread out. We will be able to move, pass and be more of an offensive-oriented team.”
Said Simpson: “Defensively, we were very firm last year and we are going to be good defensively this year. Now, hopefully, we’ll get more offense.”
Brunswick starts the season with games against Choate, Taft, Loomis Chaffee, Deerfield Academy and Avon Old Farms School.
“Getting off to a strong start would be huge,” Meindl said. “We’ve had a strong preseason, now we look forward to carrying our momentum into the season. We need to build from today and keep working.”