Local boys soccer teams learn playoff seeds

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BENNINGTON — Not much separated the Mount Anthony and Burr and Burton boys soccer teams during the season and when the playoff pairings were released on Monday, they still weren't separated by much.

Just one seed separated the Bennington County rivals, with BBA earning a No. 7 seed and MAU earning a No. 8 seed.

The Bulldogs will take on Essex in a first round matchup Wednesday at 3 p.m. BBA finished the season with a 7-5-2 record, while its opponent was 6-7-1.

The Bulldogs faced the Hornets twice this year already, once in a scrimmage and the other on October 14, with BBA coming out on the losing end both times.

"It's fair to say we know each other pretty well," said Bulldogs coach Peter Mull. "I like where my team is now. I like our development and our depth. We've got more ways to score now than we did earlier in the season."

Mull is cognizant of the fact that the teams are familiar with each other, but knows there is no true way to know what his BBA team will see out of an opponent.

"I think it's a little dangerous to think you know an opponent because who knows who's going to show up on any given night," Mull said. "We've been focusing a lot on what it takes to get a little fire in the belly and what types of things make a difference in a tough game, so we're going to be focused on what we're doing or not doing and let the chips fall where they may."

The Bulldogs are paced offensively by Ben Stewart with 10 goals. Matthew Mayne, Ian Maier, Alberto DePablo and Bennie Osnow have all been threats in the offensive end this season as well.

The Patriots start their postseason road with a matchup against No. 9 seed Mount Mansfield scheduled for today at 3 p.m. MAU had a 7-6-1 record during the regular season while the Cougars finished just under the .500 mark with a 5-6-3 record.

In any playoff bracket, the eight vs nine matchup is always a toss up and that holds true when it comes to high school soccer.

"They're pretty much a carbon copy of us. In an eight-nine matchup, it's going to be who wants it more and who can take advantage of the breaks that come," Patriots coach Mike Molloy said. "They're pretty much just us, but just from the North."

A major advantage could come into play for MAU is the sheer amount of time Mount Mansfield has to travel to play the Patriots. With most Division I teams located in the northern part of Vermont, most of the Jericho-based schools games are played in that region. MAU is one of the few Division I teams located in the southern part of the state and Molloy could see that travel impact affecting the game.

"Northern teams don't travel too long, so they play most of their games within a 30-minute radius of themselves," Molloy said. "The travel is a lot. I think it's more psychology than anything else, but I think it's going to be a close game and that's what playoff soccer is about. It's win and advance. Win ugly, win pretty, it doesn't matter."

The Patriots boast a fairly balanced attack with Jeff Potter leading the way with nine goals and two assists. Franklin Cody and Josua Schmid each have seven scores, Schmid boasts five assists, while Cody has four helpers.

Despite that strong talent, Molloy knows his team is a bit inexperienced when it comes to playoff situations. There are only three seniors on his squad and the last time MAU was in the playoffs in 2015, only two of were on the varsity team and were just on the bench for the team's run to the state semifinals where the Patriots lost to CVU.

"Nobody on my team has any recognizable playoff experience," Molloy said. "We didn't qualify last year after going to the Division I semifinals two years in a row. We had a rebuild and we're still young. This is all new to everybody, so it'll be interesting to see how well they react. My hope is that they let it go and let the ball go where it may."

***

In Division IV action, the Arlington boys got a No. 6 seed for the playoffs and the Eagles will take on Mount Saint Joseph Academy in the first round today at 3 p.m. Arlington finished the regular season with an 8-5-1 mark, while its opponent was 4-6-2.

The Eagles also boast a balanced attack with Wil Stewart and Matt Ritchie having six and five goals respectively.

Long Trail earned the No. 2 seed in Division IV and will begin its postseason road against Chelsea. The Mountain Lions finished the regular season 11-2-1 and won the Marble Valley League's D Division for the first time, while their opponent was 3-11. The game is set for a 3 p.m. start on Wednesday.

Stratton Mountain earned the No. 11 seed in Division II after going 5-3 during the regular season. SMS will take on six-seed Harwood Union, who was 7-3-1, in the first round Tuesday at 3 p.m.

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


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