When the Brunswick soccer team ended last season with just one win to its credit, there was no panic, no knee-jerk reactions. There was no need. The Bruins knew that despite their record they had a good season. They just happened to hit a string of bad luck -- really, really bad luck. More importantly, they knew coming into the 2010 season that there was no reason to change who they were or the way they played.
And so far, that faith has been rewarded.
Brunswick is 6-1-1 as of Saturday and is currently third in the Western New England Prep School Soccer Association rankings. The Bruins are outscoring opponents at a more-than 4-to-1 clip and they recently took down the No. 2 team in the WNEPSSA, Choate Rosemary Hall -- and they are showing no signs of slowing down.
"It's been fun to watch," Bruins head coach Power Fraser said during practice last Monday. "Last year, I think, went well in terms of attitude because the boys stayed excited, but it was tough to go through because so much is measured in wins. That makes this year so exciting because my assistant Tucker (Hastings) and I get to see the smiles and the extra bounce in the boys' step."
The profound sense of vindication felt by the program is clearly evident in the way the Bruins conduct themselves.
"It's been a great experience," tri-captain Dan Taylor said. "That we're able to come out and be on the other side of the 1-0 games we lost last year feels really good and it's helped make the team work harder."
It's also instilled a great confidence in the Bruins. And while they still approach each game somewhat cautiously, there is a growing feeling that they not only could win a given game but they should win it.
"That was something we talked about on Saturday against Choate," Hastings said. "We saw it as a game that we could and should win so it's clear that there is an unmistakable confidence growing."
While not much has changed internally with the program, Brunswick returned 15 players and only has a handful of new players, that doesn't mean this season hasn't had its share of new experiences.
"Beating Taft in the beginning of the year was sort of a new experience," Hastings said. "We've beaten them before but it was special because after only one game we equaled our win total of a year ago. And then we go and beat Deerfield in the third game, which we've never done before."
That win against Deerfield was sandwiched between a close loss to Loomis Chaffee and a victory over Avon Old Farms. All four teams are traditional powerhouses, which put Brunswick at an impressive 3-1.
"Getting off to a good start was huge for us," tri-captain Michael Errichetti said. "Once we put those first few goals in and got those early wins I think it really turned us around."
Much of Brunswick's success can be credited to Errichetti, who is joined by Jared Nowell on defense, and Taylor on offense. But, Fraser and Hastings have made it clear that everyone on the team has a role and plays those roles to perfection.
"I'd really like to point out the effort of David Better in goal," Hastings said. "Before this year he only had a few games in goal but we knew at the end of last year he was going to be our guy and he just worked his butt off and has emerged as an incredible leader. It's really been special to see him put some zeros up on the board."
Brunswick has also gotten strong efforts up front from Patrick Figgie and Toshi Terai, but ultimately, according to Fraser, it has taken a total team effort and complete team commitment to each other and the program to achieve their success.
"We've been putting in so much effort to our practices, our games, and to each other," Nowell said. "Our record last year didn't reflect the effort we put in and this year that's turned around."
Said Fraser: "The boys are a little bit older, a little bit bigger and they've really come to understand what we're trying to do, which has been important."
In addition to the confidence, there is also the understanding that the Bruins are not out of the woods quite yet. They have seven games remaining, all of which are against the WNEPSSA top-25, including a November 10 trip to top-ranked and currently undefeated Hotchkiss.
"We just had a big meeting in our locker room about this and we know our schedule is tough," Fraser said. "But we also know we can only look to the next game and ultimately if we want to make a run we can only worry about ourselves. I know it sounds cliche but we just need to play our own game the way we want to play it and not worry about who our opponents are."