BBA completes comeback, Grabher scores winner

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MANCHESTER — In a matchup of two of the top three teams in Division I girls lacrosse, the game between Burr and Burton and Rutland didn't disappoint.

Rutland led throughout, but Burr and Burton's Jess Grabher scored with 6.5 seconds left — the only time the Bulldogs led — coming back for a 12-11 victory at Taylor Field on Wednesday afternoon.

"I just knew I didn't want to go into overtime," Grabher said. "We got a great outlet pass to Tatum [Sands] and Ava [Marshall] was wide open in the middle. I knew she's a threat [to score], so she passed it to me and I was lucky enough to finish it with a goal."

Getting there was a back-and-forth affair. Rutland took an early 3-0 lead out of the gate and kept that advantage into the second half. A pair of goals from the Raiders, the first on a man-up by Kendra Sabotka and another from Janel Bove in transition, gave them a 10-6 lead with 16:26 to play.

Burr and Burton slowly but surely started to make a run. Ava Marshall, who led the Bulldogs with five goals, tallied off an assist from Tatum Sands to make it 10-7. Less than a minute later, Olivia Watanabe scored her first goal of the game to cut the lead to 10-8.

A few minutes later, after a big save from BBA goalie Cassie Pearce, Alair Powers found the back of the net after a beautiful feed from Marshall to inch closer at 10-9 with 4:48 left.

"Our defense is the heart of our team and Cassie Pearce has been playing great in goal," said BBA coach Jamie Blake. "We didn't have to take any extra risks, we could play our game and settle in and wait for the mistake.

Taking the draw was Julia Fillion, who won five in a row during the comeback. After Powers' goal cut the lead to one, Fillion won another draw and immediately got the ball back down into the offensive end. It eventually found Watanabe, who was fouled heading to the goal, setting up a free position shot. Watanabe restarted and put it in the top corner past Rutland goalie Zoe Zmurko to tie the match at 10-10 with 3:59 to go.

"The law of momentum is incredibly powerful, there are kids who when your team needs momentum, they are willing to shoulder that," Blake said. "Olivia stepped up for us. What she did off the scoreboard is why we were able to have other players open."

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"We started to play more as a team in the last [15 minutes]," Blake said. "Down four goals, it's not about scoring. Our success is about how well we can play together. Coming back comes one possession, one opportunity at a time, if they focus on the process, that's when we do well."

But Rutland, who came into the game at 7-1 on the year, wasn't done yet. The Raiders won the draw and eventually Brianna Beauchamp found an opening off a pass from Justine Peters and scored to make it 11-10 and regain the lead.

The Bulldogs, however, wouldn't be denied on its home field. Marshall's fifth goal, assisted by Fillion, tied the game again at 11-11.

"Going into the second half we really wanted to control the ball more," Grabher said. "We were making mistakes in the first half, we came together as a team in the second half and that made a difference.

Rutland won the next draw and looked for an opening, but a pair of shots were stopped by Pierce and with seconds remaining, the senior goalie cleared, sending her team back the other way. Marshall got an outlet pass and found Grabher streaking alone to the goal and the senior nailed the shot as the bench erupted.

"We forced them into a bad position and it's hard to wait when time is ticking down," Blake said. "Execution is what matters, it can win games for you."

Marshall led the way for BBA offensively with her five goals and two assists, while Grabher added three, including the winner. Watanabe had two goals, an assist, and added three draw controls, four ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Powers and Fillion added single goals. Pearce had 12 saves. On the other side, Sabotka and Katie Sunderland each had three goals, while Beauchamp chipped in with two. Francis Ettori and Bove scored once each. Zoe Zmurko had 11 stops.

BBA improves to 9-1 and remain in second place in Division I, while Rutland remains the No. 3 seed with a 7-2 record. The two teams will meet in Rutland on May 22 in the final game of the season.

"The games are long and it's up and down," said Rutland coach Matthew Zmurko. "We played hard and we'll see them again."


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