Rebels pull away for D-I title
CASTLETON -- What began as a back and forth game between No. 6 South Burlington and No. 1 Burr and Burton Academy with the Division I title on the line quickly turned into a decisive victory.
Powered by Sarah Fisher and Ashley Norris, the Rebels scored six straight goals en route to beating the top seeded Bulldogs, 14-4, on Saturday for their fourth consecutive state title.
The team's had played earlier in the season with South Burlington getting the best of BBA in a closer contest, 15-9.
"I thought our girls did a really nice job today of staying positive and focused and continuing to play lacrosse even as the game climbed seeming out of reach. They played actually some of their best lacrosse at that point. I think they were looser and relaxed," said BBA (15-3) coach Dave Miceli. "It's a big stage, state championship game playing against the perennial state championship team. It can be an intense experience so it was fun to see them loosen up and enjoy playing lacrosse."
The teams traded goals in the first 10 minutes of play.
South Burlington's Casey Johnson got the Rebels on the board, but two minutes later Lucy Bisselle found Lauren Miskovsky who fired a shot into the back of the net to tie the score 1-1.
Three minutes later though Fisher (4 goals, 2 assists) scored her first of the game to put the Rebels on top 2-1, but a free position goal by Hayley Sabol (3 goals) evened things back up with 13:05 left to play.
That's when South Burlington (14-5) began to separate themselves though, as it became harder for the Bulldogs to find the back of the cage.
"Courtney (Barrett, South Burlington's goalie) had a couple of great saves early on," said Miceli. "We had a couple of real nice shots that snuck right past her and then ultimately South Burlington was really good in transition and that made it difficult for us to get the ball back and get those good looks."
Barrett had 11 saves on the afternoon.
Following a pair of goals by Norris (3 goals, 2 assists) a shot by the Bulldogs' Ryder Ferrone with 5:03 left in the half hit the top of the cross bar and appeared to go in, but the referees did not call the shot a goal and play continued.
"I think the referees did a great job today," said Miceli. "They call what they see and if they're in the right position to see it then that's what it's going to be. I guess from my angle it looked like it was in, but I wasn't the one out on the field and on the goal line so I don't know that it really was [a goal]. And ultimately, whatever happens, you just adjust to the play and keep going."
South Burlington scored two more goals before the end of the half -- one each by Fisher and Johnson -- to take a 6-2 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Rebels picked up right where they left off, controlling possession and taking advantage of the opportunities.
Sage Barton got things started with a pair of goals in the first five minutes of the second half to give South Burlington an 8-2 lead at that point.
Barton also did a good job shutting down the Bulldogs' Morgan Bazyk who has been one of the team's offensive threats all season. Bazyk was held scoreless after tallying more than 60 goals during the season.
"Sage has been playing great all season. She's a tall kid and Morgan's a tall kid and Sage all season has been playing against kids that were shorter and she was so psyched to be able to play against someone like [her] height wise," said South Burlington coach Anjie Soucy. "She just absolutely played phenomenal. Seniors, they show up."
Sabol netted home with 19 minutes left to pull within 8-3, but from there the Rebels exploded for six straight scores.
Following a goal from Fisher, Alex Rosenberger scored off an assist from Norris seven minutes into the half and then two minutes later Ava Hultgren fired a shot past BBA goalie Lauren MacKenzie (10 saves) to make it 11-3.
With 15:06 left to play, Norris completed the hat-trick. Shannon Flaherty and Fisher finished the scoring for the Rebels to go up 14-3 before Sabol scored the game's final goal -- her third -- with 47 seconds left.
Despite the loss, Miceli said he was proud of what had achieved this year, the team's first in Division I after 14 in Division II.
"This is, of probably all the 17 years I've been coaching, this group of girls has really come together to be a team in a really special way and everyone on that team contributes and they are so supportive of each other and that ultimately is why we win," said Miceli. "We certainly have talented lacrosse players. Every team has talented lacrosse players, but I think the way this group of girls supports each other and plays together is the reason why we quickly rose to the top of the D-I pool. They play well as an entire group."
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