MANCHESTER -- In order to score, you have to shoot the ball.
During Wednesday's Division II boys lacrosse match-up against Burr and Burton Academy (7-7) and Green Mountain Valley School (11-0), the Bulldogs enjoyed a ton of possession against the Gumbies -- but the Gumbies capitalized on their chances to post an 8-4 victory at Applejack Field.
"[GMVS] weren't doing anything great defensively, we weren't producing offensively," said BBA coach Jason Pergament. "We were getting looks and we weren't punching the ball in. Their goalie played well, he had some really great saves, but I don't think their defense stopped us, I just think we didn't finish."
Pergament's issue with his offense was apparent as the game started to progress.
While the Gumbies hopped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, the Bulldogs enjoyed much of the possession over the first 12 minutes, and continued the trend in the second quarter as the Bulldogs trimmed the lead to 3-2 going into the break. But for all of the possession BBA had, GMVS coach Sam Jackson praised his defense for not cracking under pressure.
"We played very good defense, the guys communicated together very well off-ball, talking through picks, things like that," said Gumbies coach Sam Jackson. "We had a lot of good help, no one was really left on an island, and that was really the difference. Our offense wasn't playing particularly well. BBA possessed the ball for a lot of that game, especially in the first half.
Jack Despres and Patrick Gallagher opened the scoring for GMVS, but a goal from Ben Alexopolous got BBA on the board then, after another goal by Despres, Carter Vickers scored to make it 3-2 going into the break.
But needing to get stops coming out of the break, the Bulldogs gave up the first two goals of the third to go down 5-2.
"We didn't make as many adjustments as we had to make," Pergament said. "We had a young team out there today. I think our younger guys got overwhelmed and didn't make the adjustments they needed to make."
In the fourth, BBA continued to try and work the ball around the GMVS defensive area, and even had two man-up scenarios, but all the Bulldogs could get was a goal from Andrew Sherras off a pass from Alexopolous. To make matters worse, when BBA got its second man-up advantage, with the score still at 5-4 with 8:41 remaining, Gallagher got his second of the day to grab an insurance goal for the Gumbies.
Casey Cardon stopped 14 shots for the Gumbies in the win, while Mike Sztorc stopped six shots for BBA. Both goalies came up with incredible saves in the third period, as Sztorc managed to swing from his right post to his left post to stop a GMVS shot, then at the other end Cardon somehow denied Tom Morgantini with his stick despite the attacker standing right at the edge of the crease.
The match-up on Wednesday served as a potential preview of a Division II playoff game later this season, something that both coaches have their eyes pointing towards.
"We wanted to win, obviously, but I don't think it sets us back at all," Pergament said. "If anything, it gives us fuel to understand that we have to step it up, that we have to play a better game going towards the playoffs."
For Jackson, the game was a good test for his side as they continue their perfect march through the regular season -- not that the record matters much to him.
"It wouldn't surprise me at all if we see BBA again," Jackson said. "It is great for us to come down here and take this test. It's a great test for us. But, what comes next is the real deal. You certainly can't sit on your laurels. This is all well and good, but 10-0, 8-2, even 6-5, once the playoffs start, everyone is even."