MANCHESTER -- After coming away with an impressive comeback victory on Saturday, the Burr and Burton Academy girls lacrosse team prepares to meet a familiar foe today when they meet long-time rival Mount Anthony Union High School with a berth in the Division I finals on the line.
The Bulldogs got the best of the Patriots in both meetings earlier this year -- winning 13-8 in April and 14-11 in May -- and BBA coach Dave Miceli said he is looking forward to today's matchup.
"It's a lot of fun obviously to play in a semi-final game against anybody," said Miceli. "To play against a friend of mine and a coach that I respect a lot just makes it that much more exciting, particularly as it's [MAU coach] Tom's [Otero] last year coaching at the high school level. So, this is really the last time that the two of us will meet. it adds intensity to what is already a very intense and fun filled game."
The teams are very familiar with each other by now; not just because of the the two previous meetings throughout the year, but the several others they have had in past years, Miceli said. Given that, when the teams take the field today, Miceli said there is one thing that will make the difference.
"It will just come down to a matter of execution," said Miceli. "Tomorrow it really will be about the athletes and can the athletes execute the way they've been asked to."
A win over No. 4 MAU (13-4) would give the 14-2 Bulldogs their second finals appearance in as many years, although in different divisions.
BBA went to the Division II finals last year where they were beaten by Rice, 17-10. This year, they moved up to D-I where they earned the No. 1 seed.
The team's win on Saturday, which saw them come from five goals down with 16 minutes left to play to win 13-12, seems to have given them a boost going into Tuesday's game.
"There seems to be a lot of momentum built off of that; digging deep and finding the strength and the wherewithal to come up with the win," said Miceli. "It's great to see the girls in a place where they have that knowledge within themselves that they can do it and more importantly that they saw how being supportive of each other and working as a team creates victory."
The challenge on game day though, Miceli said, will be in controlling their emotions in the moment and "finding a balance" between the excitement created by the intensity and high stakes of a semi-final and the realization that it's just a game of lacrosse. The familiarity with MAU is something that Miceli said he ultimately believes will help his team though.
"Having it be MAU, in a way, makes it more comfortable because we know that team and we've seen that team and we've played against them two or three times a year every year," said Miceli. "For the seniors they've been doing that for three or four years. They've played against these girls from fourth grade on. So, in a way, that makes it easier to feel comfortable."