Defense leads BBA to the brink of title

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BURLINGTON — With 15 minutes left in the Division I girls lacrosse championship, South Burlington's Sam Crane gave the Wolves a four-goal lead at 6-2. Soon after, Burr and Burton's Julia Fillion was sent off by a penalty and it felt like BBA's second trip to the Division I final in team history might come to a bitter end.

But this group, 13 seniors strong, doesn't know the meaning of the word quit.

The Bulldogs clawed its way back, but came up just short in a defensive struggle, 8-7.

"Our defense doesn't like to get down by more than four goals. If it's a four-goal deficit, it's rare for teams to get past that," said Burr and Burton coach Jamie Blake. "Four goals down, we are always in it. If they can hold strong, the confidence will stay with the rest of the team. That fifth goal is a confidence killer, more than any other."

BBA and South Burlington matched up well, both in the regular season and in the final. BBA allowed 10 goals in the regular season game and only eight in the final — two of the lowest three totals in the Wolves' unbeaten season.

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Down four, and down a man, BBA scored twice, once short-handed by Audrey Anglum and the other a few seconds after getting back to full strength by Tatum Sands, to cut the lead in half to 6-4 with 11:18 left.

"We didn't have the momentum in the beginning [of the game], but when it was two goals, we were hyping each other, keeping in mind how much time we had left," said senior Olivia Watanabe. "It only takes seven seconds to score a goal."

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Christina March's goal with 8:42 left made the lead 7-4, but then Watanabe, who scored four times on the day, turned it up, scoring the next two to make it 7-6 with 3:22 to go.

"We definitely won the second half," Watanabe said. "We talked at halftime about [getting the] goalie to move and take better shots. We also had to take care of the ball, we were causing a lot of turnovers, but not getting the ground balls. We definitely came out stronger than they did in the second half."

March made it 8-6 on the next possession and then the Wolves went into a stall, trying to preserve its undefeated season.

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"We knew they would stall being up one or two, we saw it against Rutland [in the semifinal] and on [video]," Blake said. "They prefer the buffer. Also we were man down, so we needed to be in the zone and get the ball. I told them I don't care if we lose by 10 or two, we have to go get it. We know what to do on offense, get big and [goalie] Cassie [Pearce] will take care of the crease."

BBA got a final goal from Julia Fillion with four seconds left, but March's insurance goal the difference.

But for Blake, even though the score wasn't in the Bulldogs' favor, this season was fun to be a part of.

"We were beaten on the scoreboard and that's it," Blake said. "I'm incredible proud of this group, it was extraordinary to watch. It's a privilege to be their coaching staff, they don't play for us, we coach for them. It's easy to coach a team like this and it's fun to be on that journey. We got to where we wanted to go, we just ran out of time."


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