Brunswick beats Greenwich for Cardinal tourney title
Brunswick School and Greenwich faced each other in the championship game of the Beast of the East Tournament in Pennsylvania last month, so it wasn’t surprising to see which teams were competing in Saturday night’s Cardinal Tournament title matchup.
Yes, neighborhood water polo rivals Greenwich and Brunswick met again with a title on the line, this time, before a jam-packed house at GHS.
The game marked the third time this season the Bruins and Cardinals dueled and like the previous two meetings, Brunswick came out on top.
Senior Nico Apostolides and sophomore Kyle Yelensky each recorded three goals to help lead Brunswick to an 11-7 comeback win over Greenwich in the championship game of the 44th annual Cardinal Tournament.
The victory gave the Bruins their first title at the ultra-competitive tournament, which included 12 teams. Brunswick was eliminated by Chelsea Piers in the semifinal-round of the Cardinal Tournament last year and lost to Greenwich in the finals in 2016.
“It’s amazing, we came up short the past few years, so to win it this year, it means a lot, especially to the seniors,” said Apostolides, a co-captain. “We know how hard we’ve worked the past three seasons. It’s also good for the young guys, because now they have a taste of victory and hopefully, they can sustain that throughout their careers here.”
Senior co-captain Keegan Drew tallied twice, while sophomore Gavin Molloy and freshmen Gavin West and JP Ohl each scored once for the Bruins (17-2).
Brunswick trailed 3-0 early in the first quarter, before entering halftime in a 4-4 tie. The Bruins held an 8-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We work really hard in practice, so when it gets down to third or fourth quarter we’re not afraid to swim,” Drew said. “We kept on driving in the shallow end and drawing kick-outs. This was the culmination of all the work we do. Greenwich is a rival and they always give us a hard game.”
Said Bruins coach Ulmis Iordache, whose team went 4-0 en route to winning the tournament: “It’s a great tournament, it’s nice to have so many teams of this quality here. I’m happy Brunswick was in the final, last year we lost in the semifinals. Both Brunswick and Greenwich are super good and if they push each other like that the quality of the players will raise to an even higher level than they are now.”
Prior to defeating GHS in the championship match, Brunswick beat Greenwich’s B team, St. Benedict’s Prep and Thunder Water Polo Club.
Like Brunswick, Greenwich is having a superb season. The Cardinals sport a record of 16-3, with all of their losses coming against one team — Brunswick. The Bruins edged Greenwich for the Beast of the East title last month, 10-9, and won earlier in the season at Brunswick, 11-9.
“The first game we played them this season, they were in control for most of the game until we made a comeback, the second game we were up, 7-6 and this game looked good at the half, but we were never able to pull away,” GHS coach Jimmy Ramaley said. “Hats off to Brunswick, this is their trifecta. They won the Beast of the East tournament and their first Cardinal tournament. Our guys fought hard and were awesome.”
Sophomore Manuel Pemberthy registered three goals for Greenwich, which received 16 saves from senior goalie/tri-captain Kyle Laufenberg.
Pemberthy lobbed a shot over the shoulder of Bruins sophomore goalie Hayden Collins, giving Greenwich a 1-0 lead with 5:55 left in the first quarter. Pemberthy converted a penalty shot, then went top shelf with a perimeter shot, extending Greenwich’s advantage to 3-0 at the 4:23 mark of the opening quarter.
“He came out firing, which was awesome,” Ramaley said of Pemberthy’s fast start.
With the Bruins patiently looking for an open shot opportunity, Yelensky made a shot from the perimeter, cutting the Cards’ lead to 3-1 with 3:28 to go in the first quarter. Laufenberg made a save on a Bruins’ breakaway at the 1:45 mark of the opening quarter, but the visitors closed to within 3-2 on Drew’s tally with 11 seconds to go in the quarter.
Apostolides found the back of the net on a behind-the-back shot, before GHS regained the lead at 4-3 on sophomore Jack Bruce’s penalty shot.
Capitalizing on a man-up opportunity, the Bruins evened the score at 4-4 on Drew’s tally late in the second quarter.
“I felt the first half was definitely ours, we came out and played with aggression,” GHS senior tri-captain Tegan D’Agostino said. “The second half, we lost momentum and just things were going their way. At one point, it just slipped for us.”
Sophomore Thomas Hoffmeister converted a low shot with 5:24 to go in the third quarter, giving the Cards a 5-4 edge. Brunswick took the lead for good with three straight goals over a 1:24 span.
Consecutive tallies from Apostolides and a goal from Molloy gave the Bruins a 7-5 lead with 4:00 remaining in the third quarter. After Greenwich pulled to within 7-6 on sophomore Charlie Clark’s goal, Brunswick responded with a tally from Yelenksy, making it 8-6 after three quarter.
Ohl, Yelensky and West each scored in the final quarter for Brunswick, while senior tri-captain Nikki de la Sierra tallied for Greenwich.
“Throughout the season, there were times where we started out a little bit slow, but we have developed the ability to come back in these games,” Apostolides said.
Laufenberg made eight saves in each half for Greenwich, while Collins turned away nine shots for Brunswick.
“This game was one of our most important games of the year and of course, our goal was to win it, but we couldn’t get it done,” Laufenberg said. “Brunswick is a phenomenal team, they’re talented all-around. We couldn’t get it done tonight, but everyone came prepared and we’re going to continue to train hard.”
The Bruins host Chelsea Piers and Greenwich Aquatics on Saturday, while the Cardinals head to California later this week to compete in a 32-team tournament in Orange County.
“We are looking forward to the tough competition we are going to face out there,” Laufenberg said. “It should be another good challenge for our team.”