Sam Feeley

Oct 292014

The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ soccer team needed a win or a tie against the Westborough Rangers Wednesday at G-DRHS to clinch the Midland-Wachusett B Division championship and a top-four seed in the MIAA Division 1 Central tournament. They had reason to be confident, having already beaten Westborough 4-3 on the road earlier this season. But the Rangers scored two goals in the final 12 minutes to steal a 3-2 victory, as well as the league championship, and leave the tournament seedings a mystery.

Jake Pirdy found redemption after scoring an own goal early in the first half by scoring the game winner with under two minutes to play. In a 2-on-1 situation, Jameson Bradley went to Pirdy on the right wing, who got into the box and beat Crusader keeper Tyler Belanger with a grounder to the left to cue the celebration for the Westborough players and their fans.

“(Pirdy) split in between two defenders,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said.

“I said to my guys, ‘You’ve got to keep yourselves in front of (Pirdy and Bradley).’ When you’ve got six guys defending the last four minutes trying to keep the game tied, and you fail to do it, you don’t deserve to win.”

Pirdy’s own goal came in the fifth minute when Dean Tornaritis fired a shot that ricocheted off Westborough keeper Griffin Barry (nine saves) and back in off Pirdy.

The Rangers responded just two minutes later when Bradley scored his first of two goals in similar fashion. An initial shot was deflected in the box by a Crusader defender, but the rebound came right to Bradley, enabling him to bury it top shelf.

The Crusaders took the lead back in the 14th minute by navigating some choppy waters. Swarmed by Westborough defenders, Matt Straw found an opening to spring Mitch Wheeler, allowing him to get a dribbler past Barry to make it 2-1.

The Rangers pulled even again in the 69th minute in controversial fashion.

A corner kick led to lots of contact in the box by both teams, but the referees awarded a penalty kick to Westborough, despite the protests of the Crusaders. Bradley did the honors, and fired it into the upper right corner of the net.

“I thought we had control through the middle of the match,” Wisbey said.

“In the last twenty minutes, (Westborough) knew they had to win the game to win the league.”

Wisbey had high praise for Bradley, calling him Westborough’s best player and one of the best in the league.

With the Crusaders and Rangers finishing the season with identical 12-4-2 records, they will likely enter the sectional tournament as the no. 4 and 5 seeds. Wisbey knows that with 11 teams likely qualifying for sectionals, they would meet again next week in the quarterfinals. Which team gets home-field advantage for that game will be up to a coin flip.

“I have to look at the silver lining,” Wisbey said. “We didn’t get it today, but maybe it’s meant to be in the playoffs.”

Oct 262014

Yeah, the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders are an all-blonde team.   Whatsittoya?Sam Feeley

Yeah, the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders are an all-blonde soccer team. Whats it to ya?

Both the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ and girls’ soccer teams won their Senior Night games against the North Middlesex Patriots earlier this week with very different styles and strategies.

Girls G-D 3, North Middlesex 1

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Lady Crusaders came back from giving up an early goal to score three unanswered in the first half and hold on for the 3-1 victory.

Just 2:30 into the game, the Patriots capitalized on their only corner of the game, as Annika Jurgilewicz headed in a bouncing ball after the Crusaders failed to clear it.

But as the first half progressed, the Crusaders found their stride, and finally got the equalizer in the 19th minute as Ariana Lacombe passed to Sydney Volpe on the right wing in the box, who buried it for the score.

“That was a good play on their part,” new G-D head coach Charlie Voracer said of the North Middlesex goal. “But we weren’t too fazed. We responded relatively quickly.”

Just five minutes later, a North Middlesex defender whiffed on clearing an errant ball, leading to a one-on-one between Lacombe and North Middlesex goalie Katherine King. Before she could take a shot, she was tripped up in the box, leading to a penalty shot. Lacombe aced it, going to King’s right to give the Crusaders a lead that they would not relinquish.

Nicole Georges scored an insurance goal in the 36th minute, her first of the season, with Danielle Johnson getting the assist. Johnson’s cross bounced off a North Middlesex defender in front, and Georges was there for the putback.

The Crusaders outshot the Patriots 22-10, a similar result to their game against Marlborough a week earlier, but that game ended in a 0-0 tie. This time, however, the offense responded backed up the defense’s play.

“The defense doesn’t often get accolades, but (Marianna) Murphy and (Brianna) Considine played well back there,” Voracer said. “They’re pretty tough, and they’re very good soccer players.”

The Crusaders (6-4-2, 3-2-2 Mid-Wach B) have had an up-and-down season, with the forced dismissal of former head coach Steve Naboicheck being a big part of that. Needless to say, getting a win on Senior Night was a big boost of confidence going down the home stretch. They can qualify for the MIAA tournament with at least a win and a tie in their final five games.

Boys G-D 11, North Middlesex 0

The Crusaders boys’ soccer team has a tradition of dyeing their hair blonde once they qualify for the MIAA tournament. So the performance they put on could be described as a “blonde bombshell” – an 11-0 skunking of North Middlesex.

Thirteen Crusader players had at least one goal or assist. Although it was Senior Night, it was underclassmen who paced the offense. Junior Matt Krikorian, who has been on fire all season, leading the team in goals, had a hat trick. Sophomore Dean Tornaritis chipped in two goals and two assists, and junior Mitch Wheeler added a goal and an assist.

Three senior reserves factored in the first four Crusader goals. Pedro Devens got the assist on Krikorian’s first goal in the second minute. Keenan Kimmeto, who looked like Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli with his blonde Mohawk, scored in the 10th minute, making two touches to get free of his defender before beating the goalie short side. Four minutes later, Evan Lexo got the ball past the diving North Middlesex goalie and tapped it in to make the score 3-0. Devens would wrap up the first-half scoring in the 27th minute.

“I was pleased that I got to start all my seniors,” Crusader head coach Sean Wisbey said. “It was nice to spread the wealth a little bit and give everybody an opportunity.”

The Patriots, a young team with a first-year head coach, came into the game with tired legs, having played Sunday night at Quabbin and against Gardner on Monday.

“Three games in three days is way too much for any team,” Wisbey said. “Tonight’s result was reflective of that… it’s kind of an expected result.”

Crusader Goalkeeper Tyler Belanger had a night that may never be replicated in the history of organized soccer. He performed an excellent rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his electric guitar before the game, then made two saves before being pulled for Chris Werner, and finished the night playing midfield and registering an assist on the final goal of the game.

The Crusaders (12-3-1, 8-0 Mid-Wach B) were scheduled to travel to Hudson Thursday, but the game was postponed due to weather. If the Crusaders win their game, they will clinch at least a share of the Mid-Wach B championship.

“We’d really like to win these last two games to position ourselves in the top four (of the MIAA Division 1 Central standings),” Wisbey said.

Oct 192014

FITCHBURG — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders were blown out of the water Friday night by the Fitchburg Red Raiders in a 46-0 shellacking at Crocker Field.

Things looked bleak for the Crusaders right from the opening drive as a high snap on a 3rd & 7 play was recovered by Fitchburg’s Bruce Johnson. That set up the Red Raiders on the G-D 39 yard line. Driving down field, Darius Flowers (8-for-12, 108 yards) threw his first of three touchdown passes, a 10-yard strike to Nick Myles (five receptions, 62 yards) to put the Red Raiders up 7-0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.

Everything that could go wrong, did, for the Crusaders. Countless missed tackles, five botched snaps, two fumbles, and an interception led to the Red Raiders outgaining them, 287-14. The Red Raiders could have had more yardage, but they were afforded short fields thanks to three G-D turnovers and great special teams play, including an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Flowers in the second quarter and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Andrew Lara in the third. Lara caught the punt a split second after it left Eric Yanchenko’s foot and ran it in untouched.

“We didn’t show up,” G-D head coach Derek Asadoorian said. “Fitchburg played pretty well, and we helped them out. It was pretty ugly.”

Even when the Crusaders were in a position to make a stop and get the ball back, they could not hold up. For example, late in the second quarter, an interception by Johnson set up the Red Raiders at the G-D 20. On 4th & 17, Flowers hooked up with Manny Payton for a 17-yard touchdown pass, with two Crusaders defenders blanketing him.

The Red Raiders wrapped up their first-half scoring with a safety by Lara to go into halftime up 27-0.

The Crusaders tried to muster some momentum with an onside kick to start play, but it went out of bounds and gave the Raiders excellent field position again, this time at their own 44-yard line. That would lead to a Flowers 7-yard touchdown pass to Payton.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity,” Asadoorian said. “We’re lacking some leadership. We’re trying to find out identity. It hasn’t been easy with two tough games the past two weeks … we couldn’t pull them out, but it was nice to see that we battled, and tonight we didn’t have it. Hopefully we can get back to work and get better for next week.”

The Crusaders’ 2014 campaign has seen a promising 2-0 start give way to four straight losses. A win would have all but clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 4 Central playoffs, as they would have gotten bonus points for defeating a Division 2 team in Fitchburg (2-4). Now they must win next Friday at homecoming against Westborough in order to have a shot at qualifying.

“We just have to play our game and execute,” Asadoorian said when asked what it would take to beat Westborough. “We have to rally around each other. It’s a team game. We have to get a good all-around effort.”

Oct 122014

Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Cross Country coach Colleen Naboicheck reports that the team remains undefeated this year, racing past Marlborough 25-30 on Friday, October 10th, hosting on the Groton-Dunstable 3.1 mile course.

She wrote in an email that, “This was a tough race because we ran without our captain and 2nd place runner, Emily McAuliffe. Freshman Emily Willson has earned her fourth 1st place finish. We race our final dual meet on October 20th against Westborough where we hope to finish our season undefeated.”


Emily WillsonG-D20:06
Jillian CaiazziM21:10
Erin GuignoM22:00
Sarah MullinsG-D22:21
Samantha FerraroG-D22:28
Meagan OdellG-D22:29
Amanda VilenskyM23:23
Maria StefanovaM23:26
Kate NashG-D22:27
Emily DicksonM23:49

Oct 122014

Matt Tornaritis had a goal and an assist as the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders nailed a second straight 3-0 victory Thursday, this time over the Quabbin Panthers at G-DRHS.

It was also the second straight game for the Crusaders that was scoreless at halftime. Tornaritis opened the scoring in the 49th minute as he hit a free kick pas the Panther wall and into the lower corner, beating Quabbin goalie Garrett Maggio. Mitch Wheeler scored from close range off a feed from Tornaritis five minutes later. Matt Krikorian rounded out the scoring in the 67th minute as he took a pass from Eric Niemoller and blasted it in near post.

It was the third straight shutout victory for the Crusaders, including Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Nashoba and last Saturday’s 1-0 decision over Dracut.

The Crusaders controlled the offensive tempo throughout the game, outshooting Quabbin 21-2. They also had five corner kicks compared to just two for the Panthers (2-7-3, 1-5 Mid-Wach B), and committed fewer fouls (9-4).

Luke Costello, Tyler Potras, Gabe Dingle, and Matt Straw also played well in the win for the Crusaders, (9-3-1, 6-0 Mid-Wach B) who clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 1 Central tournament. They will travel to Marlboro Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Oct 082014

A fluke goal early in the second half opened the floodgates for the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boy’s soccer team — they came away with a 3-0 victory over the Nashoba Chieftains Tuesday evening at G-DRHS.

Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Chieftains stood at 1-5-2, but had not allowed more than two goals in a game. And after a scoreless, evenly-matched first half, it looked like the trend would continue.

“(Nashoba is} well coached,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said. “They didn’t have the offensive power that they’ve had in the past couple of years, but they still play good soccer.”

But the Crusaders got on the board in the 44th minute. Eric Niemoller lofted the ball towards the net, and the Nashoba goalie went up to haul it in, but didn’t secure it properly. It slipped through his hands and into the net.

“That’s something that will deflate a team,” Wisbey said. “I felt for him.”

Eighty-nine seconds later, Matt Straw took a feed from Gabe Dingle and put a shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net to put the Crusaders up 2-0. They put the icing on the cake in the 53rd minute when Dingle took a throw in from Tyler Poitras on the left side and delivered a cross to Dean Tornaritis, who headed it home.

“I knew it was going to be a game that was going to go into the second half competitively,” Wisbey said. “They didn’t start out well in the second half. We knew we had to come out and score goals early in the second half to get the advantage.”

With starting goalie Chris Buzan out for another week with an injury and backup Nick Resca out for the season, the Crusaders were forced to put midfielder Tyler Belanger in the gray jersey. He turned in an outstanding performance, making six saves, five in the first half, en route to his second straight clean sheet.

“We’re starting to play better team defense,” Wisbey said. “Thing are slowly starting to come together defensively. When you play big teams like Algonquin and Shrewsbury, you can’t give up goals. They’re going to be tight games.”

The Crusaders have been treading water nicely with injuries, and with most of those players coming back in the next couple of weeks, including Buzan and Pat Keating, that can only mean good things for the Crusaders as they make a run for the state tournament.

“I’ve got five guys sidelined right now,” Wisbey said. “We’re starting to become a healthy team again… We know we have the offense to score goals… I’m pleased to be where we are.”

The Crusaders (8-3-1, 5-0-0 Mid-Wach B) improved to 4-0 at home. They outshot Nashoba 20-9, had all seven corner kicks in the game, and committed just five fouls to Nashoba’s 10. They can clinch a postseason berth with a win or tie Thursday at home against Quabbin at 4 p.m.

Sep 282014

It took them over an hour to get on the scoreboard, but the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ soccer team eventually validated their dominating effort with a 2-1 victory over the Hudson Hawks at G-DRHS Thursday.

The Crusaders dominated the stat sheet, with more shots (21-7), fewer fouls (7-10), and vastly fewer offside calls, while keeping the ball in the Hudson half of the field for the majority of the game. But the Hawks got on the scoreboard first in the 12th minute when Joao Mendes headed the ball in the net off a corner kick from the opposite side.

“This was an important game for us today,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said. “We really wanted to win this game so we would be 5-0 (in league play). I was pleased to get the win … I thought we played very flat in the first half. I thought Hudson’s intensity was better. They won the 50-50 balls.”

After the offensive frustration continued into the second half, the Crusaders pulled even in the 64th minute as Matt Krikorian flicked the ball over Hudson goalie Ryan Lyman’s diving attempt. Eleven minutes later, Wheeler sprang Krikorian free down the right sideline, and Krikorian beat Lyman one-on-one for the game-winner.

“I’m encouraged that these guys didn’t give up in the second half,” Wisbey added. “They kept going at it … You have to understand you’re going to have highs and lows. (The North Middlesex game) might have brought our level of play down a little bit today.”

The Hawks (4-4-1, 2-2-1 Mid-Wach B) mustered one last rush toward the goal in the final minutes, but senior goalie Chris Buzan made two crucial saves, one on a bullet right into his arms and another on a leaping deflection. A third attempt sailed wide of goal, and the final whistle blew immediately after.

“It wasn’t our best performance of the season,” Wisbey said. He may be right — four of the Crusaders’ six wins have been by at least two goals, including scores of 6-1 against Tyngsborough, 6-2 against Marlborough, and 8-2 against North Middlesex.

The Crusaders (6-1, 5-0 Mid-Wach B) will be on the road against defending Division 4 state champion Sutton Saturday morning at 11 a.m. On Tuesday, they’ll travel to Algonquin for a game against the Tomahawks, whom Wisbey regards as the best team in Central Massachusetts.

“We’ve got some good tests coming up for us,” Wisbey said. “Overall, I’m happy with where we are.”

Sep 212014

HUDSON — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders overcame numerous illnesses and injuries to register their second straight double-digit road win Friday night, a 23-6 victory over the Hudson Hawks at the Morgan Bowl.

With starting quarterback Corey Romich out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Heinser out for the season, and several players active but under the weather, the Crusaders were battling before the first snap of the game. Backup quarterback Michael Tammaro played his first ever varsity game and completed four of 10 passes for 30 yards and an interception while rushing nine times for -6 yards. G-D head coach Derek Asadoorian said that the game plan changed considerably to work well with Tammaro instead of Romich as quarterback.

“We have to make sure we’re giving him plays that he can run comfortably,” Asadoorian said. “My advice to him was, ‘Look, we don’t need you to be a hero. Just go out and execute.’”

Luckily for the Crusaders, they had two key playmakers that guided the offense: Shane Dawson (242 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs) and Joey Orlando (20 carries, 137 yards, 1 TD).

After the Hawks went three-and-out on the first drive of the game, the Crusaders offense drove 60 yards on three plays in just 66 seconds to get the game’s first touchdown. Dawson opened the drive with a 44-yard rush, then scored two plays later on a 22-yard pass from Tammaro.

Later on in the first quarter, an interception by Will Mitchell set the Crusaders up at the Hudson 42, T time, Orlando was the featured back. He rushed four times for 34 yards on the drive, capping it off with an 11-yard touchdown scamper on a handoff while the Hudson defense bit on a fake pitch to Dawson.

“We came out of the gates really fast,” Asadoorian said. “We were able to get a lead before they were able to make some adjustments, which is a little different with our second-string quarterback.”

The Crusader defense was outstanding again, holding the Hawks (0-2) to just 80 yards of total offense. The Hawks’ only score came late in the first quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Armel Conyers to Jack Cannistraro.

“I thought our defense stepped up,“ Asadoorian lauded. “We’re playing well on that side of the ball.”

After a stagnant second quarter by both teams, the Crusaders remained up by only a touchdown at halftime. Whatever Asadoorian said during the intermission worked, as the Crusaders stormed out of the gate to all but put the game out of reach. In even less time than their first touchdown drive (51 seconds), Dawson broke off consecutive runs of 15, 64, and 1 to score his second touchdown of the game and put the Crusaders up 20-6.

Eric Yanchenko tacked on a 31-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to put the icing on the cake.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Asadoorian said. “We overcame a lot of adversity and we played hard tonight.”

The Crusaders (2-0) will play their first home game of the season next Friday, September 26, against Marlborough.

Sep 192014

Boys’ soccer

The Crusaders XI have outscored their opponents 15-6 in their first four games en route to a 3-1 record. They have scored six goals in a game twice, including the season opener at Tyngsborough and Tuesday at home vs. Marlborough. Their only loss thus far has come in a nonleague contest against Division 1 side Westford. They have back-to-back away games on Friday against Westborough and the 23rd at North Middlesex before playing their next home game on the 25th against Hudson.

Girls’ soccer

Madison Tammaro certainly hasn’t been playing like a freshman in goal as she fills in for the injured senior Elysa Briggs. She started the season with back-to-back clean sheets (3-0 victory over Tyngsborough on September 4th and a scoreless tie against Quabbin on September 11th) before allowing her first goal as part of a 7-1 rout of Marlborough on Tuesday. The Crusaders host Westborough on Thursday.

Field hockey

Head coach Rachel Connerty will be the first to admit that her team struggles offensively. They have scored more than one goal in a game only once this season — a 3-1 victory over Shepherd Hill that so far stands as their only win this season. Despite their 1-4-1 record, there’s no quit in these girls, and they will use their speed and athleticism as they look to eclipse last year’s 2-14-2 mark. Their next game is Friday at home vs. North Middlesex.

Boys’ cross-country

Ken Magliozzi’s squad dropped their opening meet of the season to Hudson, 27-30. G-D placed six runners in the top 10: junior Nick Odell (second place, 18:32) and Ben Hauk (fourth, 18:57), senior Erik McIntosh (seventh), senior Cam Ticknor (eighth), junior Brendan Meyews (ninth), and junior Kyle Carbutt (10th).

Girls’ cross-country

Colleen Naboicheck’s runners defeated Hudson, 15-50, by claiming all of the top 10 places. All of the G-D runners finished at least 30 seconds faster than their time trial last week. Freshman Emily Wilson finished in first place at 21:33, with Emily McAuliffe finishing just one second behind. Rounding out the top five were junior Samantha Ferraro and freshmen Sarah Mullins and Megan Odell.

Both the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams will be at Nashoba on Tuesday, September 23rd.

I’ll be at tonight’s G-D football game at Hudson as the Crusaders look to put up another strong effort on both sides of the ball and go to 2-0. Follow me on Twitter (@SamFeeleyPBP) for updates throughout the game starting at 7 p.m.

Sep 132014

The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders spread the love in their season-opening win over the Gardner Wildcats Friday night at Gardner High School. Four different players — Shane Dawson, Corey Romich, Drew Moore, and Joey Orlando — scored a touchdown en route to a 36-13 stomping.

After each team went three and out on their first series, G-D drew first blood with 2:52 to go in the first. Dawson fielded a punt at his own 35 and returned it virtually untouched for a touchdown. Eric Yanchenko (six points, including a 24-yard field goal) tacked on the extra point, and it was 7-0 Crusaders.

After the Crusader defense forced another punt, the offense got its first touchdown of the game with a four-play, 69-yard drive that took just 1:31 off the clock. Two of the plays went for 25+ yards, and it was capped off by a 13-yard rush by Romich.

“We’re just trying to call the right play,” G-D head coach Derek Asadoorian said. “We’re not keeping track of who gets it, but we certainly have some kids who have a nose for the end zone.”

The Crusaders only amassed 234 yards of offense, but that was a product of the short fields their defense and special teams allowed them to work with. The Wildcats were held to just 131 yards, including a mere 47 in the first half.

G-D’s effort was not immaculate. They had ball control issues all night, fumbling four times. They only lost one of them, but it cost them seven points in the second quarter. After Romich fumbled at his own 23, Matthew Seward found Dominic Martins down the right sideline for the score on the very next play.

“That gave them a little life,” Asadoorian said. “It was a little adversity, but we kept battling … [in] the first game, that’s typically a problem. A lot of teams are just getting the timing down when it’s full speed. Scrimmages don’t do you justice. Something we always preach is ball security, and we’ll continue to address it as we always do.”

The Crusaders responded well, with a 28-yard Romich-to-Moore touchdown pass that put the Crusaders up 20-7 midway through the second. Gardner (0-1) would not score again until late in the fourth quarter, and they couldn’t hold on to the ball very well either, losing two of three fumbles.

The Crusaders tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half on runs by Orlando and Dawson. They scored all their touchdowns on plays of 13 yards or more, and could have had one more touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 55-yard option keeper by backup quarterback Michael Tammaro. However, his fake was so good that the referees whistled the play dead, thinking running back Joey Silva had taken the handoff and was stopped at the line of scrimmage.

“The boys have worked hard, and I thought we came out tonight and executed the game plan,” Asadoorian lauded. “We were fortunate to get a couple turnovers … it was a great effort overall, and we took advantage of our opportunities.”

The Crusaders (1-0) will travel to Hudson to take on the Hawks next Friday, September 19, at 7 p.m.