BURRILLVILLE -- Back on Thursday, Sept. 20, Burrillville High needed overtime to dispatch Division II rival Cumberland, 1-0, at its Tucker Field home.
According to senior tri-captain Laura Hauser, the Broncos didn’t want to go to an extra session again.
“Our game plan was to stop their drives from going through because they did a pretty good job of that the first time,” Hauser said of the squads’ second meeting on Monday afternoon. “Their goalie (senior Elizabeth Alberg) also is pretty fast, so we needed to work her, catch her off-balance.”
Burrillville had more on the line this time around, due in part to the fact it hadn’t lost yet this season.
While it played rather sporadically in the initial half, it pretty much dominated the last, and – thanks to sophomore Kasey Desrosiers’ tally off senior Brittney Bebeau’s feed with just 3:58 left in regulation – the Broncos celebrated a 2-1 triumph over the gritty Clippers.
In the process, it remained unbeaten at 8-0-1. Cumberland fell to 5-3-1.
“I thought we were a little sluggish in the first half,” noted Burrillville mentor Susan Burgess. “I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was adrenaline or what, but I was waiting for them to settle down and play their game.
“I thought maybe the nerves were getting to them; I mean, they knew they were undefeated, and they were playing a really good team,” she added. “I told them at halftime they needed to calm down and do the things they needed to do to score. Once they did that, we dominated.”
As for the game-winning tally, Desrosiers described it this way: “Britt reverse-sticked it to me, and I just banged it in. I remember it being on my stick, and I thought, ‘This is it! We’ve got to win this game if we want to stay undefeated.’ Next thing I knew, it was in.”
Stated Bebeau: “I was in front of the goalie, and I just flicked it forward toward the net. That’s when Alex poked it in … My only thought was ‘No overtime! Thank you!”
Actually, with 3:19 remaining, it appeared Cumberland senior Franky Hawkins had knotted the contest at 2-2 off of a penalty corner, but the officials disallowed it for an infraction.
“It hit a foot of one of our players, and that’s illegal,” sighed Clippers’ head coach Stephanie Bello. “I was just, like, ‘Shoot!’ We knew this would be a tough game, and the kids aren’t happy about losing.
“I thought we played alright, but we lacked some hustle and our passing wasn’t very strong,” she continued. “Both teams are really good, and I thought it was pretty even throughout, but they scored late and won.
“We’ve been having some problems scoring, so I chose switch to four forwards instead of three, so our (defensive) backs were one (girl) short. I did it to create more offense, but a lot of pressure falls on our midfielders. They need to recover more quickly to get back and help the backs.
“In the second half, with all that running, they were exhausted; that’s why Burrillville was able to dominate.”
Junior Mikayla Fernandez gave the Broncos an early 1-0 cushion after she ripped an unassisted shot past senior keeper Elizabeth Alberg only 10:15 into the tilt.
Cumberland didn’t need long to knot it, as Hawkins beat senior goalie/tri-captain Alexandra LeClair a mere 3:54 later.
With 6:42 left before intermission, officials awarded Burrillville a penalty shot after a Clipper defender was whistled for using her foot to award a sure goal. Hauser took it and lofted a shot off the crossbar, and it landed near Alberg but never rolled over the goal line, so the 1-1 deadlock stood.
“Mikayla had been playing upfront in the first half, but I moved her to center back in the second half, and I thought she played well,” Burgess offered later. “Mikayla’s got an amazing drive, one of the best of anyone on our team; she can drill it the length of the field.
“I also switched (senior) Ali Boisvert up to the front because of her speed, and I think that helped. But I have to say it was (senior) Alisha Marcotte’s best game defensively. She was all over the place.”
On Desrosiers’ goal, she avoided a couple of defenders’ sticks and tucked the ball inside the left post. After Hawkins’ tally was disallowed, Burrillville ran out the clock.
Alberg finished with seven saves for the Clippers, while LeClair manufactured five.
“This feels great to be unbeaten,” LeClair grinned. “We come to practice every day ready to work hard, and we do. Still, even thought we haven’t lost, we’re not letting it go to our heads. We have to keep working. We know we have to if we want to keep winning.”