The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ lacrosse team is continuing its impressive season in postseason tournament play, but the girls’ lacrosse team saw its season come to a heartbreaking end on Tuesday.
The Cougars opened the scoring 1:50 into the first quarter, as Danny Needham forced a ground ball and sprinted his way to the net for a shot that beat Crusader goalie P.J. Kendall (eight saves) over his left shoulder.
But the Crusaders would take over from there, scoring the next five goals. With 9:01 to go in the first, Ryan Dodge found Nick Irby for a goal right in front of Cougar goalie Louie Wolk (12 saves) on the man advantage. Later in the quarter, Irby would return the favor, feeding Dodge for his first of two in the quarter and three on the game.
With 7:10 to go in the second quarter, Austin Hourani scored while falling down after taking a hard check. With less than two minutes to go before halftime, Ryan Henser got on the scoreboard by taking the ball all the way to the net from midfield after a clearance attempt by the Cougars went out of bounds.
The Cougars clawed their way back into the game with two goals in the first 65 seconds of the second half, including Needham’s second goal of the game just 32 seconds in, a mirror image of his first goal. But the Crusaders settled down and scored two more goals, including one by Irby while he was being knocked down in front of the net, to pump their lead back up to four.
“It was a quick turnover that we weren’t expecting,” Crusaders head coach Rick Arena said. “The tide could have turned at that point … we tightened up like we usually do, we settled down, and we got it back in control. [G-D] all year has been unfazed by situations like that, and they’re very resilient, so it was just a matter of time before they got back to doing what they wanted to do.”
Livy Penney led the Crusaders with three goals and four assist. Also getting on the scoresheet were Sara Walsh (four goals), Nicki Wilkinson (two goals), Sophie Irby, Caitlynn Berube, and Olivia Aumais (one goal each). Liv Rebeski also added a goal and three assists in her final game. She scored 103 points this season alone. Goalie Maria Antonellis made nine saves.
While the Crusaders’ attack was spread out, the Trojans relied on just two players for their offense: Sophia Turchetta (11 goals) and Jackie Plachet (three goals, two assists). Goalie Julia Hoggins stood tall in net and made 14 saves.
The Lady Crusaders finished their season at 12-8.
The Crusaders put the game away in the fourth quarter with three goals in the span of 2:17. Zach Cotoni scored a hat trick of his own, with all three goals coming in the second half.
“[The Cougars are] a good team, and they were doing what we thought they were going to do,” Arena said. “But our defense played very well … offensively, we held the ball, we were patient, we knew they were going to be tough on us and come out and extend, and then we were able to take advantage of some of the opportunities we had.”
Perhaps more impressive than the boys winning their second straight playoff game on the road against a higher seed was that the win gave Arena his 100th career win, becoming only the fourth coach in Central Massachusetts to achieve the feat and earning him a Gatorade bath for his efforts.
“I didn’t know that happened,” Arena said. “I’ve had a lot of good players and good teams, so that’s how I got here. It’s been a long time, and I guess if anybody coaches long enough, you’re going to get there.”
The Crusaders (12-8) travel to top-seed Dover-Sherborn for the sectional final Saturday at 4 p.m.
“Dover-Sherborn is one of the best teams in the state,” Arena said. “It’s going to be a heck of a game.”
ASHLAND — The sixth-seed Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ lacrosse team defeated the third-seed Ashland Clockers by a score of 10-8 Saturday at Ashland High School in an MIAA Division 3 Central/East quarterfinal matchup.
The Clockers led 4-2 in the first quarter before the Crusaders went on a 7-0 run to take 9-4 lead into the fourth. The Clockers stormed back and cut the deficit to 10-8 with four goals in the fourth quarter, but the Crusaders managed to run out the final 1:26 after the Clockers’ last goal to preserve the victory.
Quintin Forbes led all scorers with three goals and two assists. Nick Irby, Zach Cotoni, and Ryan Dodge each had two goals. Austin Hourani had a goal and assist. P.J. Kendall made 14 saves. Irby and Ryan Heinser combined to win 15 of 19 faceoffs.
“Ashland was a skilled and well coached team. It was a tough game for both teams and just a good tournament game,” Crusaders head coach Rick Arena said.