Burr and Burton built upon balance for new season

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MANCHESTER — Last spring, the Burr and Burton girls lacrosse team had a wealth of players who could put the ball in the back of the net, but when it came down to it, there was one girl who was called upon to shoulder a hefty part of that load - Shayla Heekin.

Heekin was always there to come through in the clutch for the Bulldogs whenever they needed her. If they needed someone to take over offensively, Heekin was their girl. If they needed a crucial pass to be made, Heekin would find the right pass.

This spring, BBA won't have the luxury of Heekin's transcendent ability, after the program's all-time points leader graduated last year.

Even with that huge loss, the Bulldogs are confident. BBA returns a handful of girls who can contribute in a big way offensively and second-year Bulldogs coach Jamie Blake expects a lot out of our her girls.

"There's over 100 points that went through Shayla Heekin's stick last year," Blake said. "That will be picked up by seven or eight players. We should be very balanced this year. It's always interesting to see who steps up and really it's been everyone so far."

One of the top scorers from last year's squad, Olivia Wantanabe, is back for her senior season. Senior Ava Marshall is another big piece and other players such as Julia Fillion, Audrey Anglum and Brianna Mayne, among a handful of others, will play a crucial role on the attack.

"It's definitely a different vibe. We lost a huge piece [in Shayla Heekin], but now it's time for everybody to step up," Fillion said. "It makes everyone play to the next level and we've all been playing together since freshman year. In a way, it's different, but I think it's a good thing."

A lot of the Bulldogs' defenders have also played attack in the past, so no matter who is bringing the ball up on the attack, the team should be in good hands.

BBA will have a pair of capable options in goal as senior Cassie Pearce and sophomore Lola Herzog will both be called upon in net.

Blake has seen the competition between the two goalies help both get better.

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"It's huge to have them both. You only attack with seven and you defend with eight," Blake said. "If you utilize that goalkeeper as your true man up, you have one of the few advantages that defense has in this game. We're focusing on empowering them to not only make saves, but prevent shots from happening."

Even with the losses of Heekin, Grace Petty, Sabina Buffa and Sam Citron to graduation, BBA is a very experienced group that has played together for years.

This year's squad has 14 seniors and their bond extends off the field too.

"We're best friends on and off the field," Fillion said.

"We have a lot of seniors this year, so we're just trying to make the best of it," Marshall said.

The Marble Valley League figures to be tough just as it's been in years past. Brattleboro and Mount Anthony both had strong years last spring and Rutland was solid in its own right.

As the Bulldogs get closer to their season-opening game against Essex next Friday, their main focus is finding the chemistry and making sure they are executing at a high level on all of their sets.

"We're starting to gel and working through some of the timing," Blake said. "We're working through getting some of our tactics installed and then working the chemistry and the set pieces. It's coming along but it's a process."

Roster: Audrey Anglum, Hannah Callen, Kerri Ann Campbell, Charleigh Carthy, Riley Christy, Meghan Curran, Hannah Dworkin, Julia Fillion, Efremia Geralis, Sydney Goldfarb, Jessica Grabher, Lola Herzog, Ava Marshall, Brianna Mayne, Fiona McMahon, Aisha Navarrete, Cassie Pearce, Alair Powers, Emma Putney, Tatum Sands, Lucille Senecal, May Thompson, Stella Turner, Olivia Wantanabe.

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


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