MANCHESTER -- Resolute on defense, dominant with the draws and prolific in attack, the Burr and Burton Academy girls lacrosse team picked up a vital win in the Division I standings by topping Middlebury, 13-8.
The key stat of the game came from the draw control, where BBA (9-2) held a 16-5 edge that allowed the team to both get into a rhythm and hold the Tigers (7-3) at bay.
"Even though its just me taking the draw, it's definitely a team effort," said senior Morgan Bazyk, who takes a majority of the BBA draws. "My middies and I, we understand each other. We know where the draw is going, and we know we have to be one step ahead."
And from those draws seven different Bulldogs found the back of the Middlebury cage, with Katy Jones and Ryder Ferrone leading the way with three tallies each.
"[Draws] are huge," Jones said. "It's hard in transition to get the ball back, so just getting the draw right off the bat gets us in motion."
What mad the win even more impressive was that BBA scored 12 of its goals in the first half before playing what seemed to be a game of toss-and-catch over the final 14 minutes of the second half.
"We were making smart choices when we had the ball, and more importantly we were making smart choices off the ball," said BBA coach Dave Miceli. "We had girls wide open and able to really connect those passes."
In the teams' previous meeting this season, Middlebury won a tight contest, 13-12. On Monday, the Bulldogs worked constantly to keep the Tigers at bay.
The teams exchanged goals to start, with Ferrone striking first after scooping up a ground ball, but a 3-0 run put BBA up 4-1 on a Cat Greenberg effort.
Middlebury took a timeout to settle down, and came out of the breather by winning the draw and scoring on a Sophia Abdul Sater to make it 4-2 with just seven minutes gone. Another goal for the Tigers, this time through Emily Robinson, made it a 4-3 game.
But that would be as close as Middlebury got the rest of the way, as the BBA defense buckled down while the offense outscored Middlebury 8-3 to make it 12-6 going into halftime
"[The defense] all [does] it for the team," Bazyk said. "The defense back there, they are a huge part. We know how crucial it is and how huge it is when they get a groundball or an interception. The fact that the defense is working their butts off, it pushes the offense more to keep the ball and control it."
After the intermission, the Bulldogs did everything they could to control the ball.
BBA scored first when Lucy Bisselle found Megan Grabher with 2:30 gone in the second, and after Robinson struck again for Middlebury with 20:16 left, the game slowed way down.
The next goal came 13 minutes later when Emily Kiernan struck for Middlebury, but on the ensuing draw BBA again took possession, and the girls tossed the ball around the edge of the Middlebury area without looking for a real shot.
"I thought their goalie was fantastic. In fact, we went into the stall much earlier than we really should have," Miceli said of Middlebury's Baily Ryan, who stopped 14 shots in the game. "But it was clear to me that their goalie was good, she was making great saves, and because of that we were better off not shooting."
In goal for BBA, Lauren MacKenzie had a relatively quiet afternoon as she made only six saves, but the junior did come up with a trio of saves in the first half that stopped three different Middlebury players from scoring.
Aggie Bisselle finished with a pair of goals and assists, while Abdul Slater had three goals for Middlebury. BBA was without one of its leading scorers in Hayley Sabol, who was attending a graduation.
With the win, BBA created a bit of separation in the VPA rankings. BBA currently sits third in the rankings, behind two one-loss schools in BFA-St. Albans and Mount Mansfield, while Middlebury leads a quartet of three-loss teams, including Mount Anthony, that make up fourth through seventh.
BBA is back in action on Wednesday at Brattleboro.