GREENWICH — Having lost twice to Brunswick School this season, with both defeats coming in championship games of tournaments, the Greenwich water polo team’s final chance to beat the Bruins was Friday night, when the crosstown rivals met for the last time this fall.
And the Cardinals went out and capitalized on their final chance.
Junior Manuel Pembertty scored a team-high five goals, while seniors Alex Hanna and Thomas Hoffmeister each tallied twice for Greenwich in its well-earned 10-8 victory over the host Bruins, before a large crowd.
Greenwich dropped a 10-7 decision to Brunswick in the championship game of the Cardinal Tournament earlier this month and fell to the Bruins in the title game of the Beast of the East Tournament in Pennsylvania. Brunswick also topped Greenwich three times in 2018, so Friday night’s win felt especially good for the Cardinals.
“It’s been a long time since we have beaten them and they provide us with great competition,” said Hoffmeister, one of the Cardinals’ captains. “We felt good all game and we went out and got that early lead and we were able to keep it throughout the game.”
The Bruins were paced by five goals from sophomore Gavin West. Brunswick trailed 3-1 after the first quarter and 8-4 at halftime.
“We started off the game slow, they were a little quicker on the reactions in the first quarter,” Bruins coach Ulmis Iordache said. “I was proud of our comeback, we got closer as the game went on. We missed some open shots that didn’t help us and had some shots blocked on us. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
Pembertty gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter and Hoffmeister scored after catching a cross-pool pass from junior Jack Bruce, giving the visitors a 2-0 edge with 4:04 left in the opening quarter. Pembertty struck again with 2:46 to go in the first quarter, lobbing a shot over Bruins junior goalie Hayden Collins and putting GHS up, 3-0.
“The key to winning this game was staying together as a team and doing what our coach told us,” Pembertty said. “We lost the past two games to them, so it was challenging for us. As a team, we worked hard for this.”
Brunswick, which has posted a record of 17-2 and celebrated its Homecoming Day on Friday, got on the scoreboard when West converted a shot with 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Goals from senior captain Spencer Plavoukos and Pembertty put Greenwich ahead 5-2 near the midway mark of the second quarter. Pemberrty had a pair of goals in the second quarter, while Hoffmeister senior Charlie Clark and Hanna tallied in the stanza. Meanwhile, Greenwich rose to the occasion defensively, blocking several shots in front of senior goalie Eric Ducret, who had a strong game in net.
“In past games, we had a lot of goals scored on us near side,” GHS coach James Ramaley said. “We have improved on that and tonight, we had eight or nine field blocks. A field block is a momentum-changer and everyone stepped up. I’m thrilled for these guys.”
The home team closed to within 8-6 on tallies from junior Gavin Molloy and West midway through the third quarter, but Greenwich (19-3) responded with goals from Clark and Pembertty to regain their four-goal advantage at 10-6.
The Cards came into the matchup off a strong performance at the Steve Pal Memorial Tournament in Irvine Calif., placing second.
“Coming over from California, we were playing well and we came into this game with a different mentality,” said Clark said, also a captain. “Depth was key for us and we tried to not get into our own heads and play our game.”
Senior captains Jake Charney and Kyle Yelensky each scored one goal for Brunswick, which hosts Hopkins and Hotchkiss on Saturday.
“Greenwich has so many seniors and this was their last chance to beat us, so they came out with a chip on their shoulder I think and played very well,” Charney said. “They came out firing, but we were pushing hard and I’m so proud of our team, it just didn’t happen for us today. Our season isn’t over yet, we have to get in the water tomorrow, we’re looking forward to it.”
Said Iordache: “The boys are upset about the loss, but it happens — they worked hard and give credit to Greenwich.”
Ducret and Collins both had solid moments in goal for their respective squads.
“Eric plays with a lot of heart,” Ramaley said. “They had a lot of opportunities to score, but he stayed strong, steady and made some great saves. I’m thrilled for our seniors to come here and play such a great game.”