Bulldogs edge Patriots in physical James final
BENNINGTON >> At the frenetic pace of the 48th annual John James Tournament final on Saturday night between Mount Anthony and Burr and Burton, even once BBA's Matthew Mayne scored in the eighth minute, everyone thought that more offense was to come.
But then the defenses filled in and Mayne's goal held up for the last 72 minutes as BBA won the James, 1-0, at Spinelli Field.
"In spite of the fast pace, we were able to settle and catch a collective breath with our midfielders Ben Stewart, Felix Kershaw and Chevaughn Brownie," said BBA coach Pete Mull. "They did a nice job of running the midfield, which can sometimes be a thankless job because you aren't scoring a lot of goals."
The championship win was the 16th overall for Burr and Burton, who started playing in the tournament in 1972, and the fifth title in six years.
The goal came on a set piece for the Bulldogs, as Wally Hynds made a long throw-in from deep in the corner to Mayne, who got a head on it and drove it past MAU goalie Dylan Woodside.
"They didn't have a lot of good opportunities, most of them came off set pieces — free kick, throw-ins," said MAU coach Mike Molloy. "I thought Jeff [Potter] did a nice job matching up with Kershaw, he wasn't too dangerous for them tonight."
The play was physical throughout, with BBA having the run of play in most of the first half. The Bulldogs nearly doubled the lead with 90 seconds left in the half, when Woodside made his best saves of the night. The Bulldogs played a great through ball up into the MAU zone and to Cameron Hedberg, who fired a shot that forced Woodside to dive to his right for the stop. The rebound came out in front when the keeper couldn't corral it and BBA got another shot, but Woodside was there to block and keep it a one-goal deficit heading into the break.
Mount Anthony had the run of play in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with one golden opportunity coming in the 50th minute. Trey Lang had a direct kick that went off of BBA keeper Christian Caraco's hands, but the defense came back to help and cleared, keeping the Patriots out of the net.
Five minutes later, on a MAU corner, they got a point-blank shot off, but Caraco was a wall and made the stop.
Caraco earned the clean sheet with five saves, while Woodside was excellent in net with 12 stops.
"Christian came up big when it counted," said Mull, speaking of his goalie who has only made three starts on varsity.
Along with BBA assistants Brenton Pinkus and Scott Clausen, Mull extolled Ian Maier, a junior defender for his work on MAU senior forward Ben Winslow.
"I had Ian man-mark Ben and I thought he did a nice job holding him down and not letting him get a lot of shots," Mull said.
As the final whistle approached, each team began to get more aggressive, going for slide tackles and the like. The referees let most of the minor pushing go uncalled, but struggled with consistent calls, frustrating both teams.
"It was inconsistent, you were able to play sometimes but not others," Molloy said. "All I ever want from the officials is to be consistent. Some things were fouls and others weren't. As a player, how can you make that adjustment?"
BBA's Wally Hynds won the offensive MVP and Tom Grabher won the defensive MVP — awards named for former MAU coach Birger Vigsnes and former player Erik Halvorsen.
Mount Anthony drops to 3-2, while BBA improves to 2-1.
"We need to try to figure out what to work on, we're barely a third through the season, but I think we're where should be at 3-2," Molloy said. "The experience of the John James will bode well for the younger kids and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. We had opportunities and didn't capitalize."
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