Bulldogs blaze into final with 4-1 John James win over rival MAU
Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- Kick-off couldn't come soon enough for the Burr and Burton Academy boys soccer team and it showed with two goals in the first 13 minutes and four by halftime.
The Bulldogs were already at game-speed -- in all-out attack mode -- before it was even game-on.
"We were definitely ready to go," BBA captain Zack Stewart said. "We just exploded. We saw Brattleboro-Arlington, that was a close game, a good game to watch, and it went into overtime -- past when we were supposed to go -- and that held us off even longer.
"We were so ready to go."
Behind the early blitz, the Bulldogs rolled to a 4-1 victory against host Mount Anthony Union High School in the opening round of the 44th Annual John James Tournament at Spinelli Field.
"For me, in 10 years coaching against Mount Anthony in the James, it was unheard of for us to score four goals in a half," BBA coach Pete Mull said. "Burr and Burton, for me anyway, has never scored more than two in a game against Mount Anthony."
Senior forward Axel Sapera led the charge with two goals and two assists for the Bulldogs (2-0), who face Brattleboro in the championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
MAU (1-1-1) meets Arlington in the consolation at 5 p.m.
"All of their goals came off of our little mistakes," Patriots coach Mike Molloy said. "Those first 20 minutes were ugly, we were out of it right off the bat."
Sean Paradis got Bulldogs, the reigning James champions, on the board in the fourth minute. The senior collected a Sapera through-ball just inside the MAU half and raced on goal to slot the ball near-post.
Not long after, Reid Conde sped down the left wing to deliver a low cross in front of the MAU goal that Sapera, one of four Bulldogs in the box, cleaned for the 2-0 margin with 28:41 left in the half.
"We've got guys up front who are hungry and you can tell by the way they play," Mull said.
With BBA firmly in the driver's seat late in the half, Sapera knocked in his second goal on a rebound in front of the net after a free kick.
Forty-six seconds later, the Spanish international student floated a cross from the right wing for Brock Pollard to head in with 8:07 to go, putting Burr and Burton in front 4-0.
"You could tell their guys had been there before and you could tell our guys had not," Molloy said. "There weren't a lot of positives in the first half for us."
The Patriots got one back with 3:27 left in regulation after Brad Anair finished off a deflection in the area to set the final margin at 4-1.
Sophomore goalkeeper Patrick Cody made seven saves for Mount Anthony. BBA senior Mike Nolan stopped two shots.
MAU now has to rebound for Saturday's consolation against Arlington, which had Brattleboro in a hole late playing a direct, long-ball style similar to what BBA employed to great effect Thursday.
"I think Arlington is going to be formidable on Saturday. We're going to need a complete team effort," Molloy said.
Brattleboro 3, Arlington 2 (OT)
BENNINGTON -- A 67th-minute equalizer and Jackson Batchelder's stellar overtime goal lifted Brattleboro to a 3-2 comeback win against Arlington Memorial High School in the opening game of the 44th annual John James tournament.
Division IV Arlington (2-1) had the Colonels, a D-I squad, on the ropes for most of the second half after Fred Pickering and John Esposito tallied less than a minute apart for a 2-1 lead.
The Eagles, eight-time champions, put in a valiant showing as they hunted their first James win since 2008 in what might be their last appearance.
"They just played with heart -- that's it. They gave everything they had the whole game," Arlington coach Todd Wilkins said.
Pickering nearly made it 3-1 with 20 minutes to go but his 25-yard shot smacked the crossbar. Conner Elliott-Knaggs tied the game with 13:48 to play.
Arlington goalkeeper DJ Jennings made 15 saves in the loss. Pickering and Esposito also assisted each others' goals.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.