WATERTOWN — The no. 5 Watertown Red Raiders scored three goals in the final minute of play to stun the no. 4 Groton-Dunstable Crusaders, 11-10, in an MIAA Division 3 Central/East quarterfinal Thursday June 4 at Victory Field. The game was a wild, back-and-forth affair from the opening whistle. There were six ties and five lead changes by the time the game was over. The Crusaders led 2-1 after one, Watertown led 4-3 at halftime, and the Crusaders regained a 7-6 lead after three.
The Crusaders got out to the largest lead either team enjoyed in the game — two goals — thanks to scores by Nick Irby and Zach Cotoni (five goals) with 2:15 to play. But as the clock reached the final minute, the Red Raiders made their move.
Nick Giordano somehow managed to get a pass while falling down to Chris Fidler (four goals) in front of the net to cut the lead to 10-9 with 54 seconds left. Just 14 seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, Anthony Busconi (seven goals) came around the back of the net and put the ball in high past Crusader netminder P.J. Kendall (10 saves) to tie the game.
“We knew [Busconi] was a really good player, and we knew [Fidler] was a really good finisher,” G-D head coach Rick Arena said. “They put us in uncomfortable spots, and we weren’t able to recover. They just took advantage of their opportunities.”
Then came the final dagger. The Crusaders failed to capitalize on a scoring opportunity after winning the faceoff, and Red Raider goalie Christian D’Amico started a fast break that ended with Fidler scoring the game-winner with five seconds left.
“We didn’t take care of the ball the way we needed to, and they took advantage of it,” Rick Arena said. “That’s what happens in a tournament game. You’ve got good teams going after each other, and the team that makes the plays is going to win and move on. Watertown did that down the stretch.”
Zach Cotoni (five goals) opened the scoring at 2:51 of the first quarter with a bouncer from the right side. Busconi tied it four minutes later after forcing a turnover, but Cotoni gave the Crusaders the lead going into the second quarter.
The Crusaders (11-9) dominated on faceoffs (16-9) and ground balls (26-18), and also had the edge in time of possession. All of their goals were unassisted.
“We certainly had our chances,” Arena said. “This was a good lacrosse game on both sides of the ball.
It was the final game for G-D seniors Cotoni, Kendall, Ronnie Peck, Ryan Heinser, Matt Straw, Tyler Poitras, and Paul Leonardo, But the Crusaders will return plenty of key contributors in 2016, including attackman Ryan Dodge (two goals) and faceoff wunderkind Liam McDonough.
The Red Raiders (13-3) will visit no. 1 seed Dover-Sherborn Monday at 5 p.m.