The championship game of the Beast of the East Tournament in Reading, Pa., has turned into an annual competition between water polo powers Brunswick School and Greenwich.
For the second straight season, the Bruins and Cardinals advanced to the tournament’s title game and like the 2018 matchup, Brunswick emerged victorious.
The Bruins captured the Beast of the East Tournament title, registering a 14-10 win over Greenwich in Saturday night’s championship showdown in Reading, Pa.
The Beast of the East is recognized as the largest high school water polo tournament outside of California, with over 40 teams from states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut. Both the Bruins and Cardinals cruised into the finals, winning all their games against non-Connecticut teams by significant margins.
“I’m really happy about how the boys showed up in the tournament,” Brunswick coach Ulmis Iordache said. “It was great to see the leadership coming from the captains the entire weekend. Once again, the final game was a spectacular one against a strong GHS team.”
In the championship game, Greenwich took a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by junior Manuel Pembertty early in the first quarter. Brunswick tied the score at 2-2 on goals from Gavin West and Jake Charney.
Bruins center Kyle Yelensky put the Bruins on top, 3-2, with a tally, but the Cardinals knotted the score at 3-3 when Charlie Clark converted a shot. Yelensky responded on the ensuing possession, netting a goal and giving the Bruins a 4-3 advantage.
Gavin Molloy tallied twice in the second quarter for Brunswick, while Pembertty added another goal and the Bruins went into halftime with a 6-4 edge. The opening half saw Hayden Collins of Brunswick and Greenwich’s Eric Ducret made several standout saves for their respective squads.
Once the second half began, Molloy scored twice in a 30-second span to put the Bruins ahead, 8-4. Brunswick entered the fourth quarter with an 11-7 advantage, one that grew to 14-7 on goals from Danny Taylor, Jack Moore and JP Ohl. Pembertty and Jack Bruce had fourth-quarter goals for the Cardinals.
Molloy scored four times, while Yelensky and Taylor each recorded hat tricks in the championship match for the Bruins, who are 12-1 on the season. Collins made seven saves in goal for the victors.
Pembertty had a team-high five goals, while Clark tallied twice for Greenwich, which also sports a 12-1 record. Ducret made seven saves in the title game for the Cards.
Brunswick advanced to the finals by posting a 15-6 win over Haverford School from Pennsylvania, 15-6. Taylor scored three goals, while Luke Apostolides, Vilas Sogaard-Srikrishnan, Yelensky, Molloy and Ohl each had two for the Bruins. Ohl (four goals), Molloy (three goals) and Gavin West (two goals) paced Brunswick’s 14-7 Beast of the East quarterfinal-round triumph against North Penn on Saturday. On Friday, Brunswick won its first two games of the tourney, topping Exeter Township, 9-1, then defeating Wilson (Pa.) High School, 13-2. Charney, Yelensky and Molloy had two goals against Exeter Township and Molloy (four goals), Ohl (two goals) and Patrick Mullen (two goals) keyed the win against Wilson.
“The Beast of the East has always been a competitive tournament for Brunswick,” Yelensky said. “There are always tough games and there are always moments where the team has to pull together. GHS has been a powerful team for decades and last year we faced them in a hard-fought final game. This year was no different. GHS came out strong and pulled quick few-goal lead, but thanks to the grit of our team, we were able to pull through and win the game and the tournament.”
For Greenwich, it recorded victories against Lawrenceville School (N.J.) and two-time defending Pennsylvania state champion North Penn High School in the first two rounds on Friday. Greenwich beat Lawrencville, 18-2 and upended North Penn, 16-5. Wins over Cathedral Prep (Ohio, 16-4) and Wilson (21-6), followed on Saturday for the Cards, before they faced Brunswick for the title.
Pembertty finished the tournament with 17 goals, while Bruce tallied nine times for GHS. Thomas Hoffmeister had a team-leading eight assists and Ducret made 31 saves for the Cardinals, who also received 10 saves from Paul Laufenberg.
“We had a feeling we would meet Brunswick in the final and we wanted the rematch,” Greenwich coach Jimmy Ramaley said. “I know the boys are disappointed with the result, but we have a couple more opportunities in the season to get a win against them. Despite the loss, we’re still 12-1 on the season and are looking forward to improving as the season goes on.”
Greenwich hosts its 45th annual Cardinal Tournament on Oct. 11 and 12, with the championship game taking place on Oct. 12 at 8:30 p.m. Brunswick is also scheduled to compete in the Cardinal Tournament. The Bruins won the Cardinal Tournament in 2018.