MANCHESTER >> They're coming off back-to-back state championships, but the Burr and Burton Academy boys lacrosse team aren't pinning their hats on those past successes and are focused on the new challenges that face them in 2016.
"We're starting from level zero," said BBA coach Jason Pergament. "Past is the past, this is a brand new season and a new season brings up different challenges for a team, so right now were just focusing on winning and taking everything game by game."
A new challenge includes playing in Division I, after winning two straight D-II championships and being one of the top teams since 2001, BBA feels they are ready for the challenge.
"We are ready for the challenge," said senior Nikolai Sands. "Even though we played in Division II, we always played a lot of Division I teams during the season, so we know what expect from playing those teams and I feel our team is more then ready to compete with all of them this season."
Sands will be a key player on both sides of the field for the Bulldogs, leading the BBA defense and also giving the Bulldogs a long stick option in midfield.
Next to Sands in down low defense are seniors Christopher Kornaros and Murray Senecal, as well as senior Kevin Gormley in the cage.
All four have played together since their days in the youth leagues and their great camaraderie helps make the BBA defense tough to face.
"Our defense is a really close-knit unit," Sands said. "We all have been playing together since middle school and we have a great connection of where one of us is going to be. We also communicate well with one another, which is very important on defense and we all are good at making it tough for opponents to score in the crease."
Overall, BBA is a very veteran group, with a total of 13 seniors. On offense, the Bulldogs are led by senior attackers Will Baker and Max Pagnucco.
Pagnucco scored the winning goal last year in the title game against Burlington.
"Our offense has the ability to score in many different ways," Baker said. "With my big frame, I can push through defenders as well as go around them. Our athleticism is a huge advantage for us too and our coaches are good at utilizing it on offense a lot with the attackers and midfielders we have."
Juniors Carter Vickers and Sean Apps will also be key contributors to the Bulldogs' offense.
Coming into 2016, the Bulldogs are hungry to continue their success at the next level.
"Our team has the drive and hunger to work hard at becoming successful and they want to reach the next level by competing for a Division I title this season," Pergament said. "Right now, we're focused on improving as a team here at the start of the season and our goal is be at our peak when playoff time comes around."