Burr and Burton Academy’s Ben Alexopoulos looks for an opening in his team’s 9-4 win over Harwood in the Division II playoffs.
Burr and Burton Academy’s Ben Alexopoulos looks for an opening in his team’s 9-4 win over Harwood in the Division II playoffs. (Andrew Mckeever/Manchester Journal)

MANCHESTER -- Just over 20 seconds into the second half, Burr and Burton Academy attacker Carter Vickers scored his third goal of the day -- a hat trick for the freshman. But the goal, as it turned out, was more than just a personal accomplishment on the day. It was the deciding goal that sent the BBA boys lacrosse team to the quarterfinals.

In the opening round of the playoffs, the Bulldogs topped the No. 10 seeded Harwood Highlanders, 9-4, to get a shot at No. 2 seeded Stowe on Saturday.

"He's really emerging as a young talent," said BBA (9-7) coach Jason Pergament. "He stepped up when we needed him to. Early on, we wanted to identify who their weak defender was. He got lined up on their weak defender and he took advantage of it."

Vickers got things going for the Bulldogs about midway through the first quarter, bouncing a shot past Zach Wennberg-Smith, who had an outstanding performance in net with 17 saves.

"Any time you got a goalie that's like Zach you know that you're going to be in each and every game all the way through the season," said Harwood (7-9) coach Russ Beilke. "He kept us in it. He's kept us in every game that we've played."

About a minute later, Harwood's Harrison Myers -- who had three goals and an assist on the afternoon -- scored unassisted to equalize. With about three and half minutes left to play in the half, BBA goalie Mike Sztorc -- who had seven saves -- carried the ball downfield, eluding three defenders as he approached the goal and fired a shot into the back of the net to put BBA on top 2-1.

"I have team captains every week. I have a different team captain based on performance from the week before and who's stepping up as a leader in practice," Pergament said. "Mike has been a team captain every week. He is the heart and soul of our team in so many ways."

After another Vickers score put BBA up 3-1 at the end of the first, Myers pulled the Highlanders to within a goal.

Then three minutes after Vickers opened up with the eventual game winner, Myers scored again to keep the game close. But with 6:49 left in the third, Jacob Bazyk added an insurance goal.

Vickers then scored his fourth of the day with about four minutes remaining in the quarter to put BBA up 7-4.

Tom Morgantini added a score for the Bulldogs.

Bazyk added another goal with about four minutes remaining to double up Harwood and put the possibility of a comeback that much further out of reach.

"He's got incredible hustle," said Pergament of Bazyk. "The kid's got the heart of lion. Every day he's out there, he's working his hardest. He's someone that I've coached for a couple of years now and it's been a pleasure to watch him grow."

The Bulldogs' Andrew Sherras capped off the win, scoring with 2.3 seconds left.

BBA will be on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. to take on No. 2 Stowe.