BENNINGTON -- In sports, usually goal scorers get the publicity. But, as the playoff adage says -- defense wins championships.
The Mount Anthony Union High School field hockey team only allowed three shots in their Division I quarterfinal matchup against Burlington, and goaltender Leah Holland stopped each one as the No. 3 seed Patriots advanced to the semifinal with a 2-0 win over the No. 6 Seahorses on Friday afternoon.
"So many kids stepped up as different times, they came in determined to win," said Mount Anthony coach Laura Paro, who is 7-0 in home playoff games in her career. "They didnt hesitate, they kept pushing. The backs and [midfielders] did a great job keeping up the pressure [to give us opportunities] in the offensive zone."
The Patriots (10-4-1) got the upper hand early on, playing aggressive and earning corners. On the third corner of the match, Paige Harrington got the ball into junior Rachel Holland, who laser-beamed a low shot past Burlington (7-7-1) goaltender Evelyn Schaedel for the 1-0 lead.
"We did a good job with our corners," said Paro, whose team out-cornered Burlington 17-3. "I was very pleased with how they played today."
Burlington had a chance to equalize at the 17:25 mark, but Leah Holland dove to her right to make the save and halt the Seahorses' charge.
"It's important to keep your confidence and cool in a tough game like this," Leah Holland said. "You have to give it your all, have strength in your team and stay positive."
Mount Anthony kept the pressure up, peppering Schaedel. With 7:51 left in the first half, Makayla Farrara made a deep run toward the goal and passed it across the mouth of the goal. It got past two Burlington defenders to MAU's Mary Curtin, whose shot was true to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead.
"As a senior, it's really exciting coming here, wondering if we'd make it," said Curtin, who scored her second goal of the year. "I knew I had to get it in there because it's harder to come back from 2-0 than 1-0."
From there, the 2-0 lead was nearly insurmountable as the tenacious MAU defense kept Burlington's offense at bay.
"The defense was amazing," Leah Holland said. "They worked hard, kept their sticks down, kept their cool ... played with their all today, I'm proud of them."
Mount Anthony moves on to the semifinals for the fourth time in the past five years. They'll face No. 2 Essex on Monday at South Burlington, a rematch from last year's quarterfinal that the Hornets won in penalty strokes.
"I'm expecting a back-and-forth great game, it'll be different to be on the turf," Paro said.