Western U-16s goalkeeper Brandon Bragg makes a stop during a drill at team practice Tuesday night at George (Daddy) Dawe Memorial Pitch. — Star photo by Chris Quigley
When they suit up to play Burin Peninsula this weekend at Wellington Street Sports Complex, it will have been a two-week span between competitive games for Western in the Subway Boys Under-16 Provincial Soccer League.
Two contests that were scheduled for last weekend against Mount Pearl were cancelled due to an expectation of poor weather, so all the team has been able to do is practice.
Goalkeeper Brandon Bragg doesn’t expect to see any rust — in fact, he believes the team may be all the better for it.
“I think we got a bit better, honestly,” he said during a team practice Tuesday night at George (Daddy) Dawe Memorial Pitch. “It’s more practice time where you’re not worrying about having to win a game. You’re just focused on getting better.”
Bragg, the 16-year-old son of Corner Brook’s Veliesa and Duane, has been playing the sport for about six years, the last four of which he’s spent between the posts. He shares that duty this season with fellow netminder Brandon Anstey.
“We didn’t have a goalie, so I volunteered,” he explained. “I liked it, so I stuck with it.”
His reasons for enjoying the position are simple and speak to the special kind of big-save ability goalkeepers are required to possess.
“I like having to be the last line of defence,” he said. “It’s fun having that moment.”
He loves the sport in general because he finds it exciting.
“It’s never really dull,” he said. “You always have something to do, you’re never just sitting there doing nothing.”
The second-year player for Western said a big part of any success the team will have this season is how they’ve all come up together over the past few years.
“We’re a pretty close team,” he said. “Everyone is friends with each other, everyone works well with each other ... no one is the odd man out.”
Western is 4-2-0 so far this season, earning 12 points and a third-place position in the standings. Burin are 2-3-3 on the year, for nine points and a share of sixth place in the 10-team provincial league.
Bragg admits he’s not overly familiar with the opposition this weekend, but tries to never let that kind of knowledge affect his play anyway.
“I don’t really worry about who is on their team,” he said. “You just have to go out and play your own game.”
In that regard, he said communication and teamwork will be the most important ingredients to an important two-win weekend.
“As long as we’re talking to each other and working together, we should be able to pull through, no matter what team we face in this league,” he said.
Western hosts Burin 7 p.m. Saturday night and 11 a.m. Sunday morning at Wellington Street Sports Complex.