Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- For 80 minutes, Green Mountain Valley School showed it was up to the task of diffusing top-seeded Burr and Burton's typical high pressure and threatening combination play.
The Gumbies did not, however, have an answer for Sean Paradis.
After burning No. 4 GMVS with direct, nose-for-goal play throughout regulation, the senior struck 2 minutes 11 seconds into overtime to lift BBA to a 2-1 win in the Division II semifinals Wednesday at Applejack Field.
With the ball near the end line on the right flank, Paradis cut back through two defenders onto his stronger, left foot and curled the game-winner over the goalkeeper to send the defending state champions back to the D-II final.
"I just tried to bend it around him," said Paradis, who also gave BBA the lead in the second half. "I didn't have much angle, I just tried to get it on net. Luckily it went in."
For the second straight game, the Bulldogs needed overtime to advance -- not that they were looking that sort of test again.
"I don't know if we asked for it, but we got it," BBA coach Pete Mull said.
"We didn't underestimate Green Mountain Valley. They're the best team we've played this year," he said. "They're a quality team."
Burr and Burton (17-0-0) faces the winner of today's semifinal between No. 2 Montpelier (16-0-0) and sixth-seeded Mount Abraham (8-6-1) in Saturday's championship game at Randolph High School.
The Bulldogs carry a 21-game winning streak into the title clash and finish a second consecutive season unbeaten at Applejack Field, where they are 13-0-1 since 2010.
"We knew the final was on a different pitch so, our last game here, we had to get a ‘W,'" Paradis said.
Despite pinning the Gumbies (9-4) deep in their own end for most of the first half, BBA grappled with the scoreless deadlock until Paradis notched the go-ahead goal with 20 minutes 46 seconds left in regulation.
Collecting the ball on the left side of the box, Paradis beat one man and offered a low, left-footed shot for the near post that the goalkeeper dove to stop but spilled over his own line.
The Gumbies' equalizer came after a free kick three minutes later, with Brendan Todd banging a loose ball off the right post and in for the 1-1 scoreline.
"Their first goal got the guys' attention," GMVS coach Jere Brophy said. "We just stuck to our game plan and one of the things we've worked on all year is making the free kicks count -- that's how we got the goal to draw even."
The tie stood for less than 20 minutes, though, as Paradis sealed the Bulldogs' second extra-time semifinal win in as many years.
"This is a special team and I don't think I've had a team with so many talented players at so many different positions, and such a quality bench," Mull said. "It's kind of an embarrassment of riches."
Liam Kelleher offered the assists for both Paradis goals.
GMVS goalkeeper Max Stamler had four saves while BBA's Mike Nolan finished with one save, a tribute to his backline of Ethan Marsh, Ian Conde and Robert England.
The last, biggest question before Saturday is whether or not the Bulldogs will face Montpelier. Should the two collide, it will be only the second time since 1980 -- across all four divisions -- that two boys soccer teams reach the final with no losses or ties between them.
"That'd be sweet," Paradis said. "Two undefeated teams in the final -- that'd be nice."