MANCHESTER >> Last season for the Burr and Burton girls soccer team was one to remember.
The Bulldogs were perfect as could be, driving through each opponent in front on their way to the finals of the Division I playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the season ended with a loss in the finals to Champlain Valley and those returning for BBA in the 2016 have not forgotten about that loss and are using it as fuel to help drive them to get back to the finals this season.
"The loss in the championship game last season was a learning experience for us and I think that loss has really motivated our girls to work hard to help us get over that hurdle this season," said BBA coach Suzanne Mears. "I have a really committed bunch of girls coming back this season and with the strong team we have I feel we can pick up where we left off last season."
A core group of juniors headline the key returning players for BBA this fall, led by Hannah Pinkus and Georgia Lord.
The two very talented juniors will anchor the Bulldogs' midfield this season and have huge impact on both offense and defense for BBA.
Senior Una Langran returns alongside Pinkus and Lord to create a strong midfield for the Bulldogs, while junior Maggie Sullivan returns as one the top scoring threats for BBA on offense.
Back in net, BBA has both their goalies from last year in senior Ana Garay and junior Samantha Cintron returning and both are expected to see time in goal after both playing well last season.
"We have a lot of strong players returning, which is very reassuring," Mears said. "Hannah and Georgia are great veterans returning for us and having both our goalies back from last year is a big plus as well. We have a lot of experienced players in the fold for this season."
Even with a strong class of players returning, Mears said BBA still will need to find some players to fill the shoes of players who graduated or left the team from last season.
Expected to help fill a key role on defense for the Bulldogs this season is junior Lauren Drasher, who Mears is very confident in after making huge strides in play over the course of the past few seasons.
Junior Emily Bleakie will also be in the mix to be a top defender for BBA, while fellow junior Shayla Heekin is expected to be a key contributor on offense for the Bulldogs.
Freshmen Grace Pinkus and Esther Mackenzie are both very talented players joining BBA's program this fall, and Mears believes both will make an impact for them over the course of the season.
Lastly, sister transfers Sky and Breukelen Woodard are both players who are expected to make an impact for BBA as well.
"We have a lot of talent and depth on our team," Mears said. "Overall, I'm very excited to see how all of our talent meshes this season."
Meshing and team communication are the two biggest things Mears said she wants to check off before BBA opens the season against St. Johnsbury on Sept. 3 at Applejack Field, as a part of the Manchester College Soccer Series.
The other component that Mears wants to work on during camp is the team's overall fitness and making sure the team is well conditioned before the start of the season.
"We've got to take care of the small things first before we start diving head on into the season," Mears said. "We still have a huge checklist we want cross off before we think playoffs and championships."
For now, BBA is focused on shoring up their weaknesses but the team still has their sights on getting back to the finals.
"We learned a lot from last year and we now know what it takes to get to the finals," Mears said. "You can't be really ready until you experience playing in a championship, so we learned that last year. With the talent on our team and knowing what it takes now to get a championship game, I think we have good chance of making it back this year."