By Ed Niser
GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable had a tall task ahead of them on Tuesday night, when it welcomed Mid-Wach A front-runner Westboro to town.
Westboro escaped Groton with a 10-7 win to improve to 8-0 on the season, while the Crusaders fell to 8-4.
Groton-Dunstable senior forward Sophie Irby led the Crusaders with 2 goals an an assist.
"Sophie had a helluva game," said Groton-Dunstable head coach Sarah Valacer. "Sammi Smith did too, she always does. I was happy with the way our defense palyed. They looked strong. There were just a few things on attack that we need to kind of sort through.it. They (Westboro) put a lot of pressure on us. On defense they have a bunch of players who are just top notch -- the best in the league."
Groton-Dunstable goalie Gabby Orlando had an impressive showing between the pipes with 8 saves. The senior goalie had returned from a school sponsored trip to Italy.
"She's just coming back," said Valacer. "We had one of our other players who stepped up in her abscence and now, it's like she hasn't missed a beat.She looked really good."
Westboro opened the game with two quick strikes from Cassidy Sams and Nicole Foster. Groton-Dunstable junior Ellie Eisenklam opened the scoring, when she collected a pass on the run from Irby and whirled it past Westboro goalie Alexa Vassilakis with 13:46 remaining in the first half.
Fifteen-seconds later, the Crusaders equalized. This time, it was Katie Royal from Smith, who finished the game with a team-high 3 assists. Royal's goal tied the game at 2-2.
Westboro burned its first timeout after the two quick Groton-Dunstable markers to regain its composure. The Rangers rattled off four unanswered goals from Olivia Weckwerth and Foster. Weckwerth had three goals in the sequence. All four Westboro goals game via a free position shot -- something that referees have been awarding more frequently, according to Valacer.
"They are calling a lot of free position shots with the new shooting space rule," she said. "Adjusting to that new rule has been a process for everyone. (Westboro) has taken advantage of that a little more than we have."
After falling behind 6-2 with 4:13 remaining,, the Crusaders finished the opening half with a flurry. Just before the start of the run, Groton-Dunstable called a timeout.
"I just told them to pick up the intensity and to want it more," said Valacer. "We were starting to get bogged down. The last time we played them, it was just like this --a back-and-forth game."
Irby netted a pair of goals in a span of 23 seconds with assists from Smith and Eisenklam. Smith picked up her third assist of the night with a precision pass to the cutting .Leah Garside, who flipped it past Vassilakis to bring Groton-Dunstable within one at 6-5. The tying goal came with 58 seconds remaining in the first half, when Avery Dichter rattled a shot off the inside of Vassilakis's leg and it snuck over the goal line before the Westboro goalie could recover to tie the game at 6-6.
Groton-Dunstable started the week with a 17-3 win over Mid-Wach B leading Littleton.
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