Penguins sent eight teams ranging from the Class of 2021 to 2029 to the 2020 Bulldog Brawl, which featured five sites in five New Hampshire cities from July 21-22, an excellent opportunity for all of its players to grow in a healthy competitive environment. The pandemic has made any chance at competition unique, and this event allowed Penguins teams and athletes to gauge where they are in their progression and what still needs to be done.
The 2021 squad played at The Holderness School in Holderness and went 1-3, defeating MXB Prep, 7-3, on July 22. The wins and losses weren’t the main objective for the team as getting on the field together again in of itself was crucial. But there were some great takeaways from the victory.
“It was good to play competitive lacrosse again after many months,” coach Marco Barbone said. “Started a bit rusty but eventually put it together with a great team win against Middlesex Bears. The midfielders stood out with their hard-nosed defense and finishing on offense. Adam Rabb with the save of the tournament, dove across the crease to stop one on the doorstep.”
The 2022 Orange team went 2-2 in Holderness, scoring 24 goals in its four games. The side played hard through the tournament, though early rust got them at the beginning. After the players shook that off, though, they were snapping the ball around and did a good job of burying it in the back of the net. Face-off specialist Max Fenn had a big couple of days, winning most of his face-offs throughout the four games, and Ivan Paus, a new addition to the Penguins defense, was a ground ball machine, cleaning up in front of the net and moving the ball up field. After reacclimating, the team played fast and focused on the little things, and it helped them win games.
The defense of the 2023 side did a great job of locking its opponents down and limiting the amount of shots on its goalie, allowing just 17 goals into its net through four games in Holderness. It translated to a 1-3 record, but two of those defeats were by one goal and a win over a strong Catamount team Wednesday, 5-4, illustrate clear progression. Lorenzo Costello anchored down the team’s clearing game after a rough start to the day. Andrew Hine put in another solid game at the face-off X. Will Fine showed what he’s been working on in quarantine, racking up several assists and breaking ankles dodging and toasting his man on his way to the cage to score.
Penguins 2024 went 2-2 at NH Soccer Complex in Pembroke, collecting wins against Hawks in back-to-back games to bounce back from a tough start to the event. On Tuesday, the team lost a tight one, 6-4, to a strong Arsenal side, with some positive play from Justin Hutnick and Jack O’Neill, both looking great in the cage and making some key saves. Against Hawks, John Orsbourne led the offense, scoring crucial goals the team needed at the perfect time.
The 2025 squad picked up two quality triumphs over Coyotes and HGR, recovering from opening the event with two losses to finish on a 2-2 record in Pembroke. The team was backed defensively by Charlie Holmes and Timmy Morin, who were important in Penguins allowing a third-best 21 goals in its group. Ray Gilkes took face-offs for Penguins and worked hard playing midfield all tournament long.
Penguins 2026 completed an undefeated 4-0 run at Bulldog Brawl in Pembroke, finishing atop its division and with the most goals (32). The team started off with a close win over Houlagans, 4-3, in a back-and-forth affair. Penguins started poorly, then picked it up to finish the game strong and take the W. The team went on to finish the first day with a huge victory against 4Leaf, 11-5, pulling away during a strong second half. Penguins opened day two with 3d NE South and started poorly, going down 4-1 at the half. A huge man-up goal soon after the break sparked the offense, and the team’s ride made the difference as it came back to take a 5-4 lead late in the game. 3d battled back to tie it at 5-5, but Penguins scored with fewer than two minutes remaining and held 3d off during a man-up as time expired to secure the win, 6-5. That set the tone for Penguins to handle Hawks in its final showdown, 11-2, to complete the unblemished record.
The 2027 team played its games on the first day in Pembroke, and it came out of the gates hot. Penguins opened the event with a 12-3 win versus Hawks, then played it close against Coyotes and Mountaineers to eventually finish 1-3, ending its tournament at Seacoast United Outdoor Complex in Epping. Leo D., Roman G., Miles G. and Owen M. stood out as strong offensive players, with Leo, Miles and Owen anchoring the midfield and Roman distributing from attack.
Penguins 2028/29 had a great tournament, going 2-2 in Pembroke. It had great team victories against Piatelli Lacrosse, 9-6, and Kings, 10-7. Nolen Merenda was all over the field, taking face-offs and winning ground balls left and right. Defensively, the team was backed by Colin Riley and Braylon Beville.
All Penguins teams that played at Bulldog Brawl had a great time getting back into lacrosse and measuring themselves against their local peers. No matter the record, goals were reached and knowledge was gained for every one of the club’s sides.