BBA returns to state title game

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MANCHESTER — The last time the Burr and Burton girls soccer team and Colchester met up the two team's were battling it out last year for a state title, with BBA edging out the Lakers in a double overtime thriller.

Fast forward a year and the two Division I powers met again, this time in the state semifinals and chance to return to the championship on the line.

Sophomore Grace Pinkus got the scoring going with a goal 20 minutes into the first half and after an insurance goal in the second half by senior midfielder Emily Bleakie, defending champion BBA punched its ticket for a trip to the final on Saturday, topping Colchester 2-0 on Wednesday at Taylor Field.

Pinkus' goal, her team-leading 19th of the season, came after the Lakers goalkeeper made a save on a Bulldog shot and it deflected back where Pinkus corralled it and put it into the net.

BBA coach Suzanne Mears understood the importance of that goal, but knew her squad couldn't let up against a Colchester team that, like hers, had lost on just three occasions coming into the contest.

"It helps a little bit, but it's still anybody's game that point," Mears said. "It's only 20 minutes in and there's still 60 minutes left to play, but obviously it's a feel-good goal and it helped push us forward."

The Bulldogs defensive performance and goalkeeping were a major key in BBA coming out on top for their 11th straight victory. Before the Pinkus goal, the Lakers were doing a very strong job of controlling the ball and keeping it in the opposing half of the field, getting a few chances to make a move to the goal. The play of the Bulldog backline and senior goalkeeper Samantha Citron made sure Colchester stayed off of the scoreboard. Wednesday's performance was BBA's fourth consecutive clean sheet.

"Defensively, we're just really coming into our own," Mears said. "Sam, in goal, is just really owning her box and I'm really proud of her and our defensive line. They're giving 110 percent and working for every inch."

With the win, the No. 2 Bulldogs get a chance to properly defend the title they won just one year ago as they will get ready to take on undefeated No. 1 seed Champlain Valley on Saturday at Burlington High School. The two teams met earlier in the season with CVU coming out on top, 3-1. That defeat, on Sept. 19, was the last time Burr and Burton lost.

Hannah Pinkus scored the lone goal for BBA against the Redhawks that day. CVU and the Bulldogs also met in the state title game in 2015, where BBA was coming in undefeated, but the Redhawks came out on top.

Regardless of the result on Saturday, Mears could not be more happy with the way her team has played throughout the season.

"I'm just so proud of my girls," Mears said. "They've been working so hard and to see it come together and play a tough team like Colchester, who gave just everything they had and come out on top, feels really good."

Saturday's contest is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and on Twitter @AAucoin_Banner


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