Groton-Dunstable’s Drew Bernard knocks the ball loose from the stick of Marlboro’s Dan Hayward. Nashoba Valley Voice/Ed Niser
Groton-Dunstable's Drew Bernard knocks the ball loose from the stick of Marlboro's Dan Hayward. Nashoba Valley Voice/Ed Niser

GROTON - Groton-Dunstable is playing its best lacrosse in the final half of the season. The Crusaders held a 3 goal lead at the half over Marlboro. Groton-Dunstable's defense clamped down and shutdown the Panthers en route to an 11-2 non-league victory.

"Our whole thing was that we were trying to get out ahead early on these guys,' said Groton-Dunstable head coach Rick Arena.

"We knew they played late last night and we thought we could get 'em. They played a tough first half - it was certainly a good game. They are good and they hustle. They created some turnovers. We got the upper hand in the second half and we did what we had to do."

The Crusaders were led by Blake Lacombe, who finished the game with 3 goals and an assist. Groton-Dunstable also received multiple goal days from Michael Tammaro and Connor Estes.

Groton-Dunstable goalie Nevin Tardif made 6 saves in the win.

Lacombe got the Crusaders on the board first with 8:50 remaining in the opening quarter with an unassisted goal. The senior rippled the mesh again late in the quarter with under two minutes remaining, as he beat Marlboro goalie Ben Simmons to his right to put the Crusaders up 2-0. Marlboro answered back early in the second quarter, when Evan Doherty snuck his shot past Tardif just over a minute into the quarter..

Doherty did it again for the guests with the equalizing goal midway through the second quarter. The Marlboro attackman dodged right and skipped the ball home.


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The Crusaders went on a 3-0 run to end the half - all of which came with under two minutes remaining. Tammaro, Estes and Jack O'Neill scored in the sequence. "

We have a lot of playmakers out there," said Arena. "Once we start humming, it is fun to watch"

Groton-Dunstable, despite its 14-2 record still has unfinished business to attend to.

"Our goal is to at least try and get a piece of that A-league title," said Arena. "We have to beat Algonquin (Thursday) and Shrewsbury to at least tie for the league title. We just need to focus on Algonuin and take care of them first."

The homestretch appears to be a tough one on paper with the likes of Algonquin and Ipswich (Saturday,7 p.m.) coming to town before having to travel to Mid-Wach A league leading Shrewsbury. The Colonials escaped by the skin of their teeth in the two team's first meeting, when Colin Michael scored 3:02 into the second overtime to stun the Crusaders.

The challenge is a welcomed one for Arena's squad, which has already clinched its spot in the postseason. Groton-Dunstable received solid contributions from its bench in Tuesday's game.

"It is a great primer for us," he said. "It is going to eb really hot weather and hopefully we can respond in a positive way. We got a lot of our second tier guys in today, who hopefully learned a few things because we are going to need them in the playoffs. You got to go deep in your roster."

Another big key for the Crusaders is faceoff specialist Liam McDonough.

" He doesn't lose many," said Arena."You saw what he was able to do on the fastbreak, where he either passed it or took the shot himself. He has that ability to just totally change the game with a face-off and a quick score. He can take a beating and keep on going - he is a big plus for us."

Mid-Wach E Track and Field meet

AYER - The Ayer Shirley girls' and boys' track and field teams both took home the Mid-Wach E title at Tuesday's league meet at Harold E. Norton Field. The boys' team finished with 148 points and the girls finished with 149. Taylor Wright won the shot put with a throw of 33-8 and set the school record in the javelin at 109-3. Anna Morton took the top position in the 1-mile with a time of 5:55.84.

On the boys' side, it was Leo Rosales (triple jump, 39-3) and James Robinson (200-m, 24.04), Ethan Matthews (2-mile, 10:13.1) and the 3x200 relay team lifted the Panthers to the Mid-Wach E title. The boys' and girls' track/cross-country teams completed the dual-meet season with a combined 21-1 record over both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Girls' lacrosse

Groton-Dunstable18

Marlboro1

Erin Keough, Sammi Smith and Sarah Mullins tallied a pair of goals and an assist each to lead the Crusaders to a postseason berth

.Katie Royal and Leah Garside both scored twice. Gabby Orlando stopped 3 shots for the Crusaders (10-4).

Softball

Gardner18

North Middlesex6

Maggie Hackler went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs and Grace Goudreau was 2 for 5 and scored twice for the Patriots. North Middlesex (4-11) had 12 hits in the loss.

Mid-Wach E Track and Field meet

AYER - The Ayer Shirley girls' and boys' track and field teams both took home the Mid-Wach E title at Tuesday's league meet at Harold E. Norton Field. The boys' team finished with 148 points and the girls finished with 149. Taylor Wright won the shot put with a throw of 33-8 and set the school record in the javelin at 109-3. Anna Morton took the top position in the 1-mile with a time of 5:55.84.

On the boys' side, it was Leo Rosales (triple jump, 39-3) and James Robinson (200-m, 24.04), Ethan Matthews (2-mile, 10:13.1) and the 3x200 relay team lifted the Panthers to the Mid-Wach E title. The boys' and girls' track/cross-country teams completed the dual-meet season with a combined 21-1 record over both the indoor and outdoor seasons.