GREENWICH — The momentum is building, the excitement is growing and the confidence is increasing with each game the Brunswick School soccer team wins.
The Bruins, who started their 2019 season 0-2-1, have won six of their last seven games, including victories in their last five matchups.
And the Bruins’ latest win/confidence-booster came on Friday.
Receiving two goals apiece from senior forward Kyle Raker and junior midfielder Freddy Gazal, Brunswick rolled to a resounding 5-1 win over EF International Academy (New York) in a non-conference game at Cosby Field.
At 6-3-1, the Bruins need to keep up their torrid midseason pace to remain in contention and qualify for, the NEPSAC Tournament.
“Five wins in a row, we’ve got good momentum coming into next week,” Brunswick senior centerback/tri-captain Henry Foster said. “We’ve got two big games next week, the team is really clicking offensively and defensively, so it’s exciting.”
Brunswick, which visits formidable foes in Salisbury School and South Kent School next week, took a 2-0 lead on EF Academy into halftime.
“The new kids on our team know what it’s like to be on varsity now, which has made a difference,” Bruins senior midfielder/tri-captain Steve Lopez said. “The first few games were really tough, but once we got through those, we started playing really well.”
The Bruins struck first, tallying in the 18th minute, Following a throw-in, sophomore midfielder Gavin Foster sent a cross into the box that was finished by Raker, giving the Bruins a 1-0 advantage.
“It was a good ball in the box and I just tapped it in, it fell right to me,” Raker said of his opening goal. “It’s good to score on plays like that.”
In the 43rd minute, the Bruins extended their edge. Gazal created a turnover and booted a shot from 30 yards out that zoomed past EF Academy senior goalie Xavi Balcells inside the left post, making it 2-0. The home team held a significant possession advantage during the first half.
“EF Academy always has very skillful international players, so we knew we had to put them under pressure and finish,” Bruins coach Danny Simpson said. “Some of the finishes were excellent.”
Raker’s second goal came in the 53rd minute, as he tallied off a rebound from a shot by sophomore Patrick Keller, putting the Bruins ahead, 3-0.
Meanwhile, Brunswick flourished on the defensive end with senior tri-captain Eric Meindl in goal and Henry Foster and junior John Dunn helping to lead the way.
“We have Henry Foster and John Dunn as our two centerbacks and they have been really solid throughout the year and continued to be solid today,” said Meindl, who had one save. “Letting up one goal, is obviously, a good result.”
The visitors reached the scoreboard when senior Jakob Aubell tallied with 36:03 remaining in the second half. Brunswick had a quick response, however. Gazal converted a shot from 25 yards out in the 57th minute, with Raker assisting and freshman forward Malik Simms notched his first varsity goal in the 59th minute, making it a 5-1 game.
“Freddy and I have good chemistry out there and we have good chemistry as a team,” Raker said. “It definitely shows on the field, we play well as a unit.”
Junior Andrew Breckenridge, who relieved Meindl in the second half, made three saves.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Raker and Gazal were quite a duo, combining for four goals.
Next week, the Bruins visit Salisbury on Wednesday and South Kent on Saturday.
“The second half of the season is going to be a true test,” Simpson said. “We had a rough start, but the guys are doing great.”
“Momentum is everything,” Henry Foster said. “We are walking on the field with confidence, knowing we have the ability to score and that we can have the upperhand on every team we play.”