GROTON - North Middlesex, despite bringing a trimmed down roster to Tuesday morning's Border War clash with Groton-Dunstable, gave the unbeaten Crusaders all they could handle. Groton-Dunstable held on to down the Patriots, 6-5.
Groton-Dunstable was led by Michael Tammaro, who finished the game with three goals. Liam McDonough chimed in with two.
"They (North Middlesex) came ready to play today," said Groton-Dunstable head coach Rick Arena of North Middlesex. " They were flying. They created a lot of turnovers. They forced us to play the type of game we didn't want to play."
The Patriots were led offensively by Eric Murphy, who scored twice. North Middlesex goalie Jake Baron was magnificent between the pipes with 11 saves.
"We were low numbers today, so a lot of our guys were JVs just helping us out," said North Middlesex head coach Sean McCaffrey. "They're (Groton-Dunstable) a great team. Jake did his job - he is our leader. "
North Middlesex jumped out to a two goal lead in the first quarter behind goals from Murphy and Joe Haskins. Haskins potted the second goal with 11:16 remaining in the quarter unassisted, as he let it fly from just outside the crease to beat Groton-Dunstable goalie Nevin Tardif (8 saves).
"Nevin Tardif really played well for us today," said Arena. "He continues to hold it together for us between the pipes. We have different guys playing offensively for us, too. Liam did a good job for us as always at the X and Sam Battles did a good job coming off the wing.
Groton-Dunstable found itself in uncharted waters trailing by two goals after one. Tammaro helped the Crusaders regain their footing with a pair of goals. On the first, Tammaro spun off a North Middlesex defender and flipped it home inside the right post just 44 seconds into the second.
Mitchell Townsend setup Tammaro for a low-sweeping shot from the right side to bring the score level at 2-2.
With 7:48 remaining in the half, Jack O'Neill advanced the ball into the attacking zone and found McDonough. McDonough corralled the pass and whipped the ball home to give the Crusaders their first lead of the day at 3-2.
North Middlesex continued to scrap late in the half, when Polito scored after scooping up a ground ball in front of the crease and flung it home in traffic to tie the game at 3-3.
Baron made back-to-back stops on tough shots from O'Neill and Matt Carroll. with less than three minutes left in the half.
With 1:15 remaining, North Middlesex took the lead on a Murphy's second goal of the game. O'Neill dished out his second helper, when he found Mitch Townsend just before the half to knot the game at 4-4.
McDonough and Townsend scored in the third to put the Crusaders up 6-4. North Middlesex's Kory Partridge brought the Patriots within one late in the third and that's where the game would stand. The Patriots had a its chances in the fourth quarter on the man-advantage, but it could not capitalize as Tardif made some tough saves.
North Middlesex and Groton=Dunstable meet again at Lawrence Academy, Thursday at 10 a.m.
Scores from Tuesday:
Bromfield 14 North Middlesex 5
Molly O'Neill led the Patriots with 3 goals. NM drops to 2-3.
Ipswich 11, Groton-Dunstable 8
Katie Royal and Sophie Irby scored twice for the Crusaders on the road. Groton-Dunstable dips to 2-2.
Littleton 9, Ayer Shirley 1
Matt Sabotino and Christian Hoffmann (RBI) had the Panthers' two hits. The Panthers fall to 2-1 on the season.z