Tuesday October 9, 2012

ADAM SAMROV

Sports Editor

MANCHESTER -- There's been one constant this season for the unbeaten Burr and Burton Academy boys soccer team: They can put the ball in the net at any time from anywhere.

The Bulldogs proved that point against Springfield, scoring twice in 90 seconds to turn a close game into a rout and beating the Cosmos, 4-0, on Monday.

"We work on being dangerous with quick touches in the offensive third," said Burr and Burton coach Peter Mull. "Three of our four goals were off crosses and finishes in the air ... you need to have good finishes to be successful. It was a physical game."

Sophomore Reid Conde scored two goals, his seventh and eighth of the season, to help BBA improve to 9-0. The Bulldogs have won 15 in a row dating back to last season.

"We had a good game plan, came out strong and worked the ball around," said senior defender Robert England, who was named as Man of the Match. "We were finding feet and finishing shots."

Conde started the scoring for the Bulldogs, blasting a shot into the right top corner off an assist from Axel Sapera.

"Reid has eight goals but also seven assists," Mull said. "He's who we look to to generate offense, but he's also very unselfish with the ball."

After one of the referees was replaced due to a leg injury, Burr and Burton pressed for more and got it quickly. With 11:38 left in the half, Sapera added a goal of his own, heading the ball into the net off Springfield goaltender Tim Hildreth's hands, doubling the lead to 2-0. Ninety-three seconds later, BBA scored again, this time a cross from Sapera to central defender Liam Kelleher who volleyed past Hildreth to increase the advantage to 3-0.

"It's always good to get the first one, then try to bury the teams as quickly as possible," England said. "When we can do that, that's when we're successful."

It was Kelleher's second goal of the year.

"He's a great organizer back there, he has a Vermont work ethic," Mull said. "He's always working."

Conde finished the rout halfway through the second, scoring into a wide-open net after taking advantage of Hildreth leaving the goal to stop a BBA rush.

"With BBA, you can't make the little mistakes, because they take advantage of everything," said Springfield coach Paul Kendall. "We played much better in the second half, but we lost focus for just a few minutes."

Hildreth made 16 saves for the Cosmos, compared to just three for BBA's Mike Nolan, who earned his sixth shutout.

"The offense holds the ball long enough up front to let us get situated and the midfielders are doing their thing," England said. "It makes it easy to keep the ball out."

Burr and Burton is at the top of the Division-II standings, but Montpelier is nipping at their heels. Each team is 9-0, but BBA leads based on index points.

"The starters depend on practices," Mull said. "The bench pushes the guys to keep working together. We look at every game as if we're 0-0 ... if we dont keep winning, Montpelier is right there.

"We need to play with as much verve as possible. It's good to realize there's another team out there with us."

England, part of BBA's championship last season, said the Bulldogs can't get complacent despite their record.

"Tonight we're 9-0 but tomorrow we're 0-0," England said. "We just need to improve every day."