It's Monday, and you know what that means. It's time for the Sports Buzz, the fastest three minutes in Brookline sports coming your way right now:
Well, Brookline boys soccer head coach Jeff Katz wanted his team to take the next step after a disappointing shootout loss in the Division 1 North finals to Newton North last year. With seven seniors having graduated last season, he still got a hopeful glimpse of his team, when the Warriors won the 2011 Nauset Clash, a preseason tournament featuring some of the better high schools in the area.
Heading into this season, any early victory, especially against playoff contenders Nauset and Silver Lake, is seen as a good thing.
“We were playing really good teams,”Katz said. “We played talent to get to the the finals and they were a test.”
Losing goaltender Matt Hillman to graduation could have been seen as a blow to an up-and-coming program in Division 1, but Miles Rubin won the starting job in a tight race and has owned the position as he stopped three penalty kicks in the tournament clinching game and even pitched a shutout in the Warriors first game against Milton, 4-0, in the recent season opener.
“He’s a tall, lengthy kind of player," Katz said. "He’s a very technically sound goalkeeper, and he’s good at reading the game. He’s got some things that he’s working on, but he’s really stepped up. It was kind of a battle.”
The leadership of this team will come from two returning players, Eric Buck and Travis James.
Both players were key in providing depth at the forward position to flank the opposition, but this season, due to personnel and scheme, Katz moved his two quick players into the middle to provide depth there.
James could be a player to watch this season in all of Eastern Mass.
“He’s seeing the ball a lot,” Katz said. “He doesn’t have all the wing responsibilities. He’s not going to be tired and he’s also an incredible finisher. He’s dangerous in the air. He’s crafty, creative and he can strike the ball.
“You can’t help but key on him and then we will have people making runs from the midfield.”
The Warriors are battling injury issues in the early season, but once they retool and get healthy, the big things should keep continuing for the Warriors this season.
Brookline has since lost to Needham, but rebounded with a big 1-0 win over Norwood.
We go to the courts, where the Brookline girls volleyball blanked host Milton, 3-0 (25-10, 25-21, 25-14), in a battle of Bay State Conference rivals.
The Warriors, who improved to 2-0, got a balanced attack and showed off their depth as Maya Midzik — who played in the first and last games — had 10 kills and three aces. Jamie Francona dished out 19 assists and had 10 digs, while Ali Brailey posted a team-high 11 kills.
Milton (0-1) got six kills from Samatha Curley, who missed the last half of her junior season with a shoulder injury, and 10 assists from senior captain Ellie Taber. Katie Krauss made her return to the Wildcats lineup after a knee injury kept her out last season.
Francona, Midzik, and Brailey led Brookline to a 25-10 victory in the first game. The Warriors grabbed an early advantage on an ace by Midzik and rolled from there.
Midzik put away a powerful kill for the game-winning point, after Francona went to the floor for a tough dig. Brailey then tapped it up, and Midzik finished it.
“(Brailey) had huge game today and she got a lot of experience last year [due to injuries],” Warriors head coach Mike Frank said. “This year Jamie and Maya and all the other complementing players is a wonderful thing.”
Milton did not go quietly in the second game after it looked like Brookline would roll to another victory. After a timeout when trailing 16-8, the Wildcats tightened up defensively and worked their way back to as close as 24-20, with Kitty Sargent delivering a couple of winners in the run.
“We just basically talked about playing our game,” Mitlon head coach Robin Lee said.
Midzik returned for the final game, and she helped return the power to the Brookline offense, as the Warriors clinched the match with a 25-14 win.
Brookline then improved its record to 3-0 with a 3-0 win over Needham.
To girls soccer we go, and Brookline showed signs of progress in a 3-0 early season loss to visiting Needham in Bay State Conference action.
“We improved a lot of things from our first game,” said Warriors head coach Joslyn Vendola, whose squad fell to 0-2. “We got some more stuff to work on, but I don’t think that 3-0 really shows how well we played today. “
The Warriors season opener resulted in a 1-0 loss to Milton, which Vendola noted was “a tough first game.”
The coach added, “We sorted some stuff out. We came back and fixed those things [against Needham]. We had a couple of moments where we had let downs. But I think overall we played well.”
Senior Warrior Lena Capece had Brookline's first good chance when she dribbled the ball down the left side early in the game, only to be denied by the Needham keeper on rocketed shot on goal.
Needham opened the scoring in the 11th minute, after a Brookline defender was whistled for a handball inside the goal box. That sent sophomore Kira Oberle to the line, where she booted the ball off the crossbar and down barely over the goal line for the score.
Later in the half, the Warriors had a chance for the the equalizer as junior Jessie Stein placed a corner kick on target, but freshman Maya Chan’s header just missed and went over the crossbar.
“Our corner kicks are wonderful,” Vendola said. “We just got to get on the end of it. So we got to work on that.”
Oberle notched her second tally of the game in the 49th minute, before senior Tory Waldstein added an insurance goal late in the contest.
Vendola then went on to earn her first victory as coach of the Warriors, as Brookline defeated Norwood, 2-0, on a pair of strikes by freshman Jen Xu. Ella MacVeagh and Kyra Judge got the assists. The Warriors improved to 1-3 overall, including 1-2 in the Bay State Conference.
Tom Layman and Peter Shanley contributed to this report.