MANCHESTER — On a cold and sometimes snowy day that seemed more suited for February then April, the Burr and Burton Academy girls lacrosse team's offense in the second half of the opener against Middlebury was about as chilly as the weather at Taylor Field.
Ahead by one at the half, BBA was held scoreless for the final 18:53 as the Tigers came away with a 12-5 victory on Wednesday.
"We've been working on defense this preseason, it's a new group working together, and I'm extremely happy for our goalie," said Middlebury coach Kelley Higgins. "There's only one senior back there, and I was happy with their communication."
BBA combined for 12 saves — eight by the starter, Miranda Cully, and four from replacement Amelia Nick.
Middlebury sophomore Raven Payne, in her first varsity start, made 12 stops as well.
Coming out of halftime down 4-3, Middlebury, who had scored the last two goals of the first half, tied the match at 4-4 with an unassisted score from Harriet Milligan. In the next 20 seconds, BBA regained the advantage off the draw with Shayla Heekin getting past the defense for the score to make it 5-4 — BBA's last tally of the contest. A moment later, Middlebury tied the game again with a goal from Tulley Hescock, then took the lead for good on the first of three straight scores from sophomore Satchel McLauglin.
McLauglin led all scorers with five goals, while Mikayla Robinson added a pair for Middlebury. Heekin had two goals to lead Burr and Burton.
"In the second half, we started to go downhill, we weren't taking enough shots or enough smart shots," said BBA coach Jen Brenner. "We were shooting at the goalie today."
The eventual game-winner came on the power play, and a free position chance a moment later made it 7-5 and then McLaughlin scored again with 12:53 to go for a three-goal advantage.
Emma Donahue scored on the next draw control, 11 seconds later, to make it 9-5. BBA turned up the pressure and had a handful of chances in the final 12 minutes, but Payne was up to the task. On one play, Payne was lucky too, as a shot from Aggie Bisselle got past but hit the post and bounced out.
"We discussed it at half, we needed to work on fundamentals, they were killing us," Brenner said. "Sometimes we missed the cage completely and the checking was a little out of control. In terms of getting the ball back in the attack end, we basically through it away."
The teams played back and forth for the first 25 minutes, feeling each other out in both teams' first regular season contest.
Bisselle gave BBA the lead and Heekin — off a free position shot — doubled it in the first five minutes for a 2-0 lead. Molly Campbell cut the lead in half off an assist from Donahue, but BBA scored the next two, each on free positions, the first from Ana Garay and the second with 5:11 left in the first half from Bella Dworkin to make it 4-1. In the last 2:29 of the half, Middlebury pulled back to 4-3 on scores by Robinson and McLauglin.
"In the first half, we played hard, the defense was solid and we communicated well," Brenner said.
Middlebury starts the season with a win over the state runner-up.
"Talking to [former BBA coach] Dave [Miceli] before the game, we said any game before April [school] break is a growing process," Higgins said. "I'm happy we started out with a win for sure."