Rice foils Bulldogs title bid
In what for 42 minutes was a very close game, 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 goals and took the lead and never relinquished it.
In spite of the way the first half ended, BBA coach Dave Miceli said there was a silver lining.
"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 Miceli. "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 Green 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.
BBA senior midfielder Kate Montague tried to help the team rally by scoring two of her five goals on the day within about a three minute span 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. Then with 8:06 left to play in the half, the Green Knights went on a 6-0 run to give themselves a 17-9 lead with 1:49 left to play. The lead held until BBA's Morgan Crabtree scored the final goal with 30 seconds left.
Rice's Gretchen Tarrant, Emily Cutting, and Katy Ranaldo were responsible for the bulk of the offense. Tarrant led all scorers with six goals while Cutting had five goals and one assist.
Ranaldo was right behind her with four goals.
The Green Knights' 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, and Ryder Ferrone each had one goal. Lauren Miskovsky added two assists on the day.
Lindsay Swanson added two goals for the Green Knights.
BBA goalie Casey Apps had five saves on the day and Rice goalie Maura Sheridan had six.
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