Sports

Co-Captain Brian Russell ’09

The Andover Boys Soccer team was not loaded with talent. The team did not have numerous division-one bound players. But this team could flat out find ways to win. Led by the leadership of Co-Captain Brian Russell ’09, Andover formed one of the closest groups in New England Prep Soccer. The team chemistry was unmistakable all season. Starting with the annual Team Prep Camp in Casco, Maine, the group of 18 hardworking individuals formed a tightly knit group that truly did whatever it took to help the team. Whether it was an 8-0 win over Tabor Academy or a penalty kick loss in the quarterfinals to Avon, Andover won and lost as a team. This team-first mentality starts at the top, with the unprecedented leadership of Russell. Russell is a natural born-leader. His uncanny ability to make a team mesh was evident when a team composed of six returning Seniors, four post-graduates, two Uppers and six Lowers instantly became best friends. Russell was particularly impressed with the maturity of the Lowers. “We had three Lowers starting, and three more that had significant roles. Our team definitely hinged on their performances, and I can’t say enough about the job that they did game in and game out.” Russell is not the flashiest player. He is, however, the most dependable player any coach or teammate could ask for. Said Co-Captain Matt Gorski ’09, “Brian showed up every day for practice with a determination and energy that was contagious. The whole team saw how he competed on a daily basis and we all definitely strived to emulate this.” Russell’s role in being one of the most dominant defenders in New England was not always crystal clear. In fact, when he showed up to Prep Camp in ninth grade, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to pursue soccer. This all changed in tenth grade when he got called up to play a few games with Varsity. “The intensity and commitment to winning shown by Coach Carr and the players gave me a completely refreshed desire to play the game,” said Russell. As his game continued to improve, Russell soon became one of the most prominent players in the Andover soccer program. Although he lettered with the team for the first time his Upper year, there was no doubt in the team’s mind that he would make a great captain the following season. Most people thought that after the talented 2008 class graduated from the program, Andover soccer would go through a rebuilding phase. Russell never let the team believe for a second that they couldn’t be a dominant team. Displaying great courage and grit throughout the season, Russell led his team to the program’s first playoff run since 2003. Russell’s memories of watching his brother, Steve Russell ’04, perform in the playoffs during his Upper year motivated Brian to make a post-season run this year. “Seeing Steve’s team in the playoffs and knowing that they were the last team to make it from Andover was definitely something to compare this season to.” In 20 years, along with the crucial playoff run, Brian will remember the teammates that made the season what it was. Russell said, “We all gelled together so well, coming together as a team right from the beginning of the season. It was a great way to end my soccer career during my Senior season.” Throughout the season, Brian’s consistently dominant play and leadership skills have earned him Athlete of the Term honors. His ability to bring the intensity up in almost any situation while also controlling the game made him one of the best backs in New England. While the program will remember Russell as one of the greatest leaders it has ever had, he said that he will “remember the program for the countless memories and friendships that I have made that will ultimately last me a lifetime.”