Watanabe's milestone a game-winner for BBA
MANCHESTER — Burr and Burton senior midfielder Olivia Watanabe knew that she was close to the 100-goal milestone in her Bulldogs career.
She figured being seven away coming into Monday's game against Middlebury, she'd probably reach the mark on Senior Day.
In a back-and-forth battle in the cold rain, Watanabe's seventh goal — the 100th of her career — came with a minute left in overtime as BBA edged Middlebury, 14-13, at Taylor Field.
"In both our overtime wins, Olivia's taken that on," said BBA coach Jamie Blake. "She got a great pass from Alair [Powers]. She's just sending it with so much genuineness behind it. And to get [100 career goals] in less than two years after tearing her ACL, it shows how hard she's worked to get back to this level."
Middlebury took a 7-5 lead at the half, scoring the last five goals unanswered. BBA quickly answered with Hannah Dworkin and Watanabe scoring to tie the game at 7-7.
From that point, the lead never got larger than a single goal. Lacey Greenamyre gave Middlebury the lead back with a goal off the faceoff, but Burr and Burton took the lead back with goals from Watanabe, assisted by Audrey Anglum, and Julia Fillion on a free position to make it 9-8.
Greenamyre and Watanabe traded goals, but then Ada Anderson scored with 12:34 to put the Tigers back on top, 11-10.
Watanabe and Alair Powers scored 25 seconds apart — the sixth lead change of the game — made it 12-11, BBA.
"We never focus on the outcome or the scoreboard, we focus on the process. One ground ball, one pass, one shot at a time," Blake said. "Focusing on that has been crucial for us, and it makes it manageable for us to come back."
Greenamyre, who had a team-high six goals, tied it again with 7:44 to go off a free position chance, then took the lead on a jump shot about three minutes later.
The Bulldogs would not be denied. Watanabe's sixth goal of the day, and 99th of her career, came with 1:44 left to make it 13-13.
Along with her seven scores, Watanabe added four draw controls and 10 ground balls.
Each team had a chance to win in regulation, but those were denied, and the game headed into sudden victory.
"We've been in that spot before and our team has grown and has confidence, even going into OT," Watanabe said. "I have confidence in my defense even if [the other team] gets the draw. But when we get on the attack, it works very well."
Middlebury won the opening draw, but couldn't find the back of the net. Eventually, BBA picked up a ground ball, which got to Powers in the offensive zone. She found a streaking Watanabe in front of the goal and she buried the shot, winning the game and reaching the milestone.
"It means a lot, I've always strived to reach that," Watanabe said. "It's not done alone, a lot of the goals are off assists, which shows more about the team as a whole."
Powers was all over the field on Monday, causing five turnovers, picking up 13 ground balls, winning three draws and scoring a pair of goals and a pair of assists, including the winner.
"It was vital to get that pass off," Watanabe said. "With the backer, I can't do a 1-on-1 there. It's about continuing to cut [in front of the goal] and being loud, looking for the pass."
Cassie Pearce had 13 saves for BBA, while Lydia Deppman had seven stops for Middlebury.
"I trust our defense to do what they are good at," Blake said. "They prioritize the end of the game and they step it up. They accept nothing but the best."
"I prefer games like this, especially at the end of the season," Watanabe said. "Heading into the playoffs, I have a lot of confidence in this team."
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