When it was all said and done, No. 4 Rice (14-2-1) repeated as the Division II state champions by defeating Burr and Burton Academy 17-10.
Burr and Burton (14-3) dominated much of the first - leading 5-3 with about two minutes to go before halftime. But then Rice rattled off three straight and took the lead - a lead that they would never relinquish.
"I was glad that it happened right before the half. It gave us a chance to sit and talk about it and move past it and try to mentally get back to what we needed to do," said BBA coach Dave Miceli of the three quick goals. "It's going to happen every time you play a good team you're going to face adversity, but that was one of those moments, where it was nice to be together and talk about it."
Less than a minute into the second half the Knights scored again to go up 7-5. After a goal by the Bulldogs about a minute and a half later, Rice went on a 3-0 run to pull ahead 9-6.
Following a penalty call, BBA senior midfielder Kate Montague scored one of her five goals on the day with 18:27 remaining to go in the half. Less than three minutes later, Montague scored again to pull the Bulldogs within a goal, but that's as close as BBA would get.
Over the next few minutes Rice scored two goals to BBA's one to make the score 11-9.
Rice's defense was unrelenting as they often had two, three and sometimes even four girls on the ball.
"We've worked on fitness all season long [so] that we could be zinging around, pressuring them, creating those turnovers and capitalizing. So fitness was huge for us," said Rice coach Kelly McClintock. "Up high defense is just as important as down low because Burr and Burton, they have great shots. So, we didn't want to give them the opportunity to shoot."
Going into halftime, McClintock said she told her team that they needed to focus on getting control of the ball, getting it up the field and making smart passes - something that Rice executed well throughout the second half.
"Being up by one at half is not comfortable and we needed to execute, get a lead and then slow it down and they did that right away," said McClintock. "They got the lead and then we slowed it down to create excellent scoring opportunities and I think we were able to wear Burr and Burton down."
Rice was also able to win more of the draws in the second half as well. Miceli said possession of the ball changed the manner of Saturday's game, but liked what he saw out of his defense in particular.
"I felt like they forced a lot of bad passes and created a lot of opportunities for us to get the ball back. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't, but I give credit to our transition defense for forcing a lot of bad passes and then our set defense as well," said Miceli. "They made them really work hard for their goals up to the last couple of minutes when we started taking chances."
BBA's Mary Leech had one goal and one assist and Hayley Sabol, Katie Jones, Ryder Ferrone and Morgan Crabtree each had one goal. Lauren Miskovsky added two assists on the day.
Rice's Gretchen Tarrant led all scorers with six goals. Emily Cutting scored five goals, and had one assist in Saturday's game. Katy Ranaldo had four goals for Rice and Lindsay Swanson added two.
BBA goalie Casey Apps had five saves on the day and Rice goalie Maura Sheridan had six.
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