Bulldogs keep Applejack a fortress: BBA continues perfect start, unbeaten streak

MANCHESTER -- There isn't any secret to the Burr and Burton Academy boys soccer team's recent success on expansive Applejack Field. An organized defense, a tireless midfield and speedy attackers to twist opponents' back lines all figure prominently.

In this case, however, knowing the answer to the puzzle doesn't make solving it any easier.

Getting goals each side of halftime, BBA pushed its home-field unbeaten run to nine games Wednesday night with a 3-0 win against rival Mount Anthony Union High School.

The Bulldogs (8-0) are now 8-0-1 in games at Applejack since 2010.

"It's as big a pitch as you can make and they play effectively on it," MAU coach Mike Molloy said of the turf.

Unlike the teams' first meeting, a 4-1 BBA win in the John James Tournament, Wednesday featured a closely played opening 40 minutes. It wasn't until Axel Sapera's back-post goal a minute into the second half that the hosts wrestled control for good.

"That was the back-breaker right there," Molloy said. "You want to tie it 1-1 ... if it's 1-1 it's anybody's game, if it's 2-0 we're probably in too great a deficit on this size field to be able to make anything of it."

Sapera's tally, following a corner kick and a low pass across the goal from Sean Paradis, gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 edge on the Patriots (4-4-1).

In front of a defense stingy defense that only saw one change from last year -- Liam Kelleher moved into midfield -- the BBA attack had done its job. In eight games, the Bulldogs have yielded just 3 goals.

Burr and Burton goalkeeper Mike Nolan only needed one save to earn the clean sheet.

"We always try to start strong in the back and build from there," BBA coach Pete Mull said. "Liam moved into midfield and he's been our defensive stalwart there. He works very, very hard -- he never stops working."

At the break, the only difference on the scoreboard was Paradis' strike in the 37th minute. Chasing down a long ball from Ian Conde, the senior forward shrugged off his mark in the box and chipped MAU goalkeeper Patrick Cody (four saves) for the one-goal lead.

"I thought the first half was back and forth. I thought we had good opportunities but didn't get shots off when we should've," Molloy said. "It probably deserved to be a tie at the half."

The Bulldogs nailed the woodwork twice after seizing the two-goal lead before Bowie Pugliese's through-ball freed Reid Conde on a breakaway to seal the result with 10:29 remaining.

A demanding final stretch of five games in eight days awaits BBA, currently the top-ranked team in Division II and defending state champion.

"We just have to keep our heads, we can't get cocky," Kelleher said. "We've got to keep going. We've got to play our game."

Mount Anthony is in action again this weekend at the Maple Hill (N.Y.) tournament.


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.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions