MANCHESTER -- Possession is a killer.
Both the Burr and Burton Academy and Mount Anthony Union High School girls lacrosse teams learned that during Tuesday's contest.
But it was BBA's ability to maintain possession when it needed it most -- in the second half -- that allowed the Bulldogs to pull away from the Patriots for a 14-11 victory on the BBA campus.
"Lacrosse is a game where if you have a lead, it's real easy to protect," said BBA coach Dave Micelli. "I thought in the second half the girls did a really nice job of placing their shots and choosing their opportunities to shoot. They were able to come away with solid ball possession and run minutes off the clock."
The Bulldogs, though, saw what a lack of possession could do in the first half.
Within the first three minutes, BBA went 2-0 up only for the Patriots to rattle off two straight, in less than 30 seconds, to tie the game up.
A goal by Katy Jones a minute later put BBA back up, and the team added five more over the next 15 minutes to go up 8-4 on a goal from Ryder Ferrone with 6:30 left in the half.
But MAU had an answer before the half, and taking advantage of face-offs and a couple of stellar saves from Sam Mayer (5 saves), the Patriots tallied the last four goals of the half. Emily Cross led the comeback charge, sandwiching two goals around efforts from Erica Hale and Emily Altland.
"A girl like [Cross] is going to score goals," Miceli said. "She's just good. It almost doesn't matter what you do."
The final six minutes of the half didn't end perfect for the Patriots, though, as Cross saw a yellow card with 7 seconds left in the half and MAU had to play the first two minutes of the second half man-down.
BBA pounced, with Hayley Sabol rattling off two goals with Cross on the sidelines then adding a third less than 30 seconds after the penalty ended to put BBA up 11-8.
"It's always the team that helps me come back in the second half," Sabol said of her goals. "I was a little flustered before the half, but they all talked to me and settled me down."
Aggie Bisselle added her second goal of the game to put BBA up 12-8 and create breathing space.
"They scored three [six] in a man-up situation, that really hurts," said MAU coach Tom Otero. "I think that was a big plus for them to come out early and grab those goals."
The Bulldogs were also aided by a strong showing on restarts in the second half.
MAU won the face-off advantage 9-8 in the first half, including a string of wins during the run to end the period, but in the second BBA turned the tide and won seven of the 10 face-offs to help maintain possession.
"We were doing well on the draws in the first half and in the second we were having a tough time getting the draws no matter who was in there," said Otero.
MAU managed to trim the lead to two with goals from Altland and Hale, then again on a goal from Hale after a Jones goal, to make it 13-11 with 11:08 to play.
That would be as close as the Patriots got, though, as BBA went into the final 10 minutes only thinking about possession.
"We have a play called ‘red', [where] we don't shoot and we don't go to goal. That's what [coach] talked to us about. He said that we don't need to score. If we score, [MAU] gets a chance to get the ball."
So the Bulldogs held it. And Held it.
"It's all about possession," Otero said. "If you have the ball, and they can't get it, you are in the driver's seat. That's what BBA did. They took their time on their goals. When they had the ball, they ran off the clock, they made us work for everything we got."
Sabol added the insurance goal with 4:30 remaining to put BBA up 14-11.
"Sabol is a great athlete, and we are fortunate to have a lot of good athletes on the team," Miceli said. "She just understands the game, and she understands momentum. She understands when to push and when to pull back a little bit and distribute the ball. She did great decision-making."
Sabol finished with five goals and an assist, while Jones had three goals for BBA and Ferrone had two. For MAU, Hale finished with five goals while Cross added three, all in the first half.
"A big part of our game today was Mary Leech defending Emily Cross," Miceli said. "I thought Mary did a nice job of keeping her from getting the ball, keeping her from being able to shoot when she had the ball, keeping her from getting quality shots.
BBA improves to 5-2 with the win while MAU falls to 3-3.