BENNINGTON - Reid Conde wasn't just heads-up when it mattered, he was head-first.
Racing to meet a long pass from his brother, Ian Conde, behind the Brattleboro defense, the sophomore forward leaped to beat the goalkeeper to the ball just inside the box.
His daring header, nine minutes into the second half, looped into the empty goal to crack a scoreless deadlock and propel the Bulldogs to a 2-0 win against the Colonels on Saturday in the 44th Annual John James Tournament final at Spinelli Field.
"When I saw that ball coming over and [the defender] kind of easing up I knew I could get there," Conde said. "I saw my chance and just sprinted right in there and jumped up high," he said. "It was well worth it."
To do so, though, they had to overcome a defense-minded Brattleboro (2-1) squad that had seen how the Bulldogs sliced through Mount Anthony in a four-goal first half on Thursday.
"We played very defensively to start. We wanted to stay in the game," Brattleboro coach Paul Sather said. "They got an early goal in the other game [against MAU] and really, like tonight, that first goal is huge."
The tactic kept BBA from bursting through the channels on the counterattack and limited the Bulldogs to just seven shots on goal.
"[Brattleboro] made a good adjustment. They figured that we were offensively oriented and they put their best players in the back," BBA coach Pete Mull said. "They're great players and it's hard to get by them."
Three and a half minutes after Conde's opener, Axel Sapera blasted a deflection into the bottom left corner from 20 yards out to double the lead.
"It was anybody's game still even after they got that first goal," Sather said. "A communication breakdown that's a tough one to give up, but when they got the second one, that one hurt."
The goal was Sapera's third of the tournament. That haul, plus two assists in the first round, earned him the Birger Vigsnes Offensive MVP award.
"What a tournament for Axel," Mull said. "That's got to be up there with some of the John James performances of the past."
With the two-goal lead and sturdy, controlled defending from the likes of Ian Conde, Liam Kelleher, Bobby Weeks and Robert England - the tournament's defensive MVP - the Colonels never really threatened the two-goal lead.
Goalkeeper Mike Nolan had four saves for Burr and Burton. Galen Finnerty stopped four shots for Brattleboro.
"We're still, hopefully, improving. We've got a ways to go, so that's our goal for this year, improve from game to game and not hit a plateau," Mull said.