Bulldogs look to maintain success in 2018

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MANCHESTER — For the Burr and Burton girls soccer team, there is an expectation for excellence.

The culture created in Manchester breeds it and with every passing group, the ideal remains strong.

BBA enters the 2018 season with the same goal in mind. After three straight years of making the Division I state championship game, the Bulldogs want to make a return trip this fall.

Last year, BBA came in as the defending champions, but this fall, they come off the bitter taste of a 1-0 loss to CVU in a defensive-minded state title game.

Just over a week into practice, the Bulldogs are looking to find their chemistry before the season begins.

"I really like what I'm seeing," said BBA coach Suzanne Mears. "There's a lot to build on, but I'm excited about this group and possibilities that we have."

The Bulldogs lose a couple key contributors from last season's squad. Most prominently, BBA lost second-leading goal scorer Hannah Pinkus, midfield stalwart Emily Bleakie and goalkeeper Sam Citron, who was especially strong during the Bulldogs' playoff run.

Despite those big losses, BBA returns a solid core from last year's squad led by junior Grace Pinkus. Pinkus scored 19 goals last year to lead the team.

"I expect Grace to come back even stronger this year and be a vital part of our season and continue from ended last year," said Mears, who is 63-7 in her time at the helm of BBA.

The Bulldogs will get a player they had during their state championship run in 2016 back as well. Senior Sky Woodard returns to play in Manchester after a year playing AAU soccer last fall.

Mears expects Woodard to come in and be a big difference maker for BBA this season.

"She's going to add a whole range of skill sets that she had a couple years ago to our season," Mears said. "I'm really excited to have her back. She'll be a strong player for us."

Replacing Citron in net will be a trio of players, who all figure to see time there. Senior Cassie Pearce, sophomore Carol Herbert and German junior exchange student Anna-Sophie Currle will all see time at goalkeeper.

"We're keeping it open-ended on a week-to-week basis and depending on what team we're playing," Mears said.

Senior Olivia Watanabe and Rebecca Montaufray return at forward, senior Aisha Navarrete and Hannah Dworkin will play key roles in the midfield, while Kristina Harmon, Fiona McMahon and Aryn Iannuzzi will play on the back line for the Bulldogs

While BBA's season is still in the infant stages, they have an eye on the end goal. Winning has become an expectation for this group and this season will be no different.

The Bulldogs are taking the necessary steps now to put themselves in the best position throughout the season.

"We have to believe in ourselves and come and work hard every day," Mears said. "It's the culture that we have established here. As long as we're giving 110 percent every single day and we believe in ourselves, I'm completely hopeful that we'll be back there again."

Roster: Kerri Ann Campbell, Octavia Crowell, Anna-Sophie Currle, Hannah Dworkin, Kristina Harmon, Carol Herbert, Aryn Iannuzzi, Elizabeth Kopeck, Fiona McMahon, Rebecca Montaufray, Aisha Navarrete, Daisy O'Keefe, Cassie Pearce, Grace Pinkus, Jasmine Rachele, Piper Russell, Rowan Russell, Emily Sullivan, Stella Turner, Olivia Watanabe, Sky Woodard and Annette Zilkha.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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