Boys soccer: Brookfield emerges as SWC contender
A quick glance at the results would suggest that the Brookfield boys soccer team has relied heavily on its attack to earn a series of impressive wins.
That would be accurate.
The Bobcats have emerged as one of the surprise teams in the state this year, jumping out to a 6-0-2 start near the halfway point. The forward trio of David Walker, Kent Eannarino and Michael Bento have combined to score most of the 24 goals Brookfield has put away so far.
“I think I have a luxury this year of having three of the best in the conference, potentially even the state,” said Bobcats coach David Lavery. “Kent, Mike and David combine together so well; they’re all pacey, technically gifted on the ball and strong. They’re quick enough to get past the quickest defenders with one step and they can all find the target.”
Since an early-season 0-0 draw with ND-Fairfield, the Bobcats have scored at least twice in every match, including the last four. Brookfield earned a draw with defending champion Barlow before beating SWC contenders Bethel and New Milford.
Each has their own role up front, yet can be swapped at the drop of a hat. Walker plays the furthest up the field with his height the magnet of kicks up the field. Eannarino and Bento play off the target forward; all three have devastating pace to run at defenders and create opportunities.
“We all know our strengths and weaknesses,” Walker said. “We’re not limited to just the center or just the side; we’re interchangeable which throws off the defense because they have a hard time tracking us. Mike and Kent are good with the ball at their feet; they can isolate defenders on the outside and take them on.”
Many of the seniors on the Bobcats have played with one another in the town’s youth system since they were five years old. The chemistry between the front three in particular would be hard pressed to beat. It’s also the first class that Lavery — now in his fourth season with the Bobcats — has seen through from freshman to senior year.
“We’ve been good in all areas honestly,” Walker said. “We have a relatively new backline but they haven’t backed down and have held their own all year. We have a good amount of height and speed; we’re well-balanced and have more experience.”
Despite the positive results Lavery believes there’s room for improvement. The Bobcats have yet to hit top gear in terms of playing quality soccer, he said; unlocking that would make the squad an even more dangerous force. Players have been shuffled across the backline and midfield, Lavery said. Jake Baptista has nailed down a spot in the center of park, though, adding steel to the flair up front.
“Moving the ball quicker is something we definitely need to improve on,” Bento said. “We have a new midfield so it’s an adjustment, but we’ll get there by SWCs.”
The 2016 SWC and Class M champs slumped to a disappointing 2017, but have appeared to rebound this time around. Brookfield sits inside the top 10 in the latest Class M/S coaches’ poll, and will get a big test Wednesday at Weston.
“We really needed to change our attitude from last year to this year, and everyone woke up big time this year,” Bento said.
And it’ll be on the Bobcats to recreate the magic from two years ago and chase another championship banner.
“I’m very confident right now,” Lavery said. “We haven’t played good soccer yet; our best game was our last game against New Milford. I’m just looking for the boys to kick on, to actually turn on the engines, put their foot on the gas and move up the gears.”