WESTFORD -- On Thursday afternoon, the Groton-Dunstable boys' soccer team got to play a game that could be instrumental in preparing their defense of their District title next week. The Crusaders got to play on turf, which is a playoff staple, and got to measure themselves against one of the top teams in the East, dominating the flow of play in an eventual 0-0 draw versus Westford Academy.
"This was a nice test for us heading into the post-season and had the feel of a District game at times," said Groton-Dunstable coach Sean Wiseby. "It is never a bad thing to get to play a quality opponent on the turf. It gives the kids a chance to get reacquainted to how the ball bounces and the pace of play. I thought we dominated most of the game, we just couldn't break through and get a goal."
The numbers back up Wiseby's assertion, as the Crusaders were in control throughout, racking up a 23-9 advantage in shots on target while getting numerous opportunities offensively. However, Groton-Dunstable could not find the net with most of their shots, and when they did, Grey Ghosts goalkeeper Sam Brewer (nine saves) was there to make a play.
"I am not disappointed with the result at all. We played hard and I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball today," said Wiseby. "We are gearing up to make our run in the Districts and I am very happy with where we stand at this time.
In the first half, the two best chances belonged to the Crusaders and Nate Pomeroy. The senior forward came up with the game's first scoring threat just nine minutes into the contest when he beat a pair of defenders to get free from 15 yards. A shot was placed towards the low left corner, but Brewer was there to make a diving save and clear the ball away.
With just under five minutes to go in the opening half, Doug Rosa made a great lead pass that found Pomeroy's foot and led to a one-on-one with Brewer. Pomeroy tried to push a shot towards the right corner, but Brewer was there again, making an acrobatic save to keep the game scoreless heading into the break.
Midway through the second half, Matt Tornaritis made a great run down the right side, beating three defenders before sending a pass to the top of the box to Dan McGuiness who served a pass towards the middle. Pomeroy received the pass and attempted a jumping one-timer that sailed just wide of the right post.
Just three minutes later, Pomeroy took the ball down the left side, juking a pair of defenders and taking Brewer on again. After a quick cut to the middle, Pomeroy put a shot past a diving Brewer, but the ball hit off the right post. The rebound came directly back to a sprawled out Brewer who covered and did not allow a second shot opportunity.
Late in the contest, Westford Academy eventually got some things going offensively, but were limited to lone shot from far out. Groton-Dunstable goalkeeper Connor Maguire, who came on in relief of John Nyilis (two saves), was there to make three saves in the second half and ensure a 0-0 final.
"I really didn't feel like we were threatened much defensively today and our game plan worked pretty well," said Wiseby. "We really pressed the issue throughout the day, we just couldn't find the back of the net, but I liked what I saw."