GROTON -- Gabby Orlando said that as a young athlete, she chose to become a lacrosse goalie because she wouldn't have to run as much. According to her, she was not "athletic" like some other girls.

With about 70 seconds left in Monday's Division 2 East sectional semifinal game, the senior made a very athletic save, stopping a low shot going to her left off the stick of Erin Seibel -- who had scored two second-half goals -- and that save protected a one-goal lead and eventually lifted No. 2 seed Groton-Dunstable to a hard-earned 8-7 victory over No. 6 Medfield in a game held at Lawrence Academy.

"(Seibel) dropped her stick so I knew that she was going to go low," said Orlando. "Then she just shot it to where I was shadowing it."

Orlando made 10 saves in all, six coming in the second half. Medfield was able to tie the game up at 5-5 and 6-6, before the Crusaders scored the next two goals off the sticks of Emily Miller and Leah Garside. After Medfield cut the deficit to a goal coming off a G-D turnover, Orlando was there to make several stops in the final four minutes.

"It's just what Gabby does," said first-year head coach Kasey Pelletier. "She just always steps up. She makes the hardest shots look easy. I say, 'that's just a Gabby save'. In big moments, she just steps up."

The win pushes Groton-Dunstable (14-4) to its fourth straight sectional title game where it will play the No. 1 seed, Wayland (20-2), on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Natick High.


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The last three years, under then-coach Sarah Valacer, the team has captured the Central/West Division 2 title before being moved to the East section. The last two years, the Crusaders lost in the state semifinal game to Walpole and Norwell, and back in 2015 the team was also defeated by Norwell but in the state final.

"These girls have won the Central Mass title the last three years. Each game in the East (Division) has been tough, and (our girls) continue to step up, so we'll see what happens now. We're excited for Thursday," said Pelletier.

Added Orlando, "We never played the East teams before, so to even make it this far is just a huge success for our team especially this season getting a new coach, having a brand new team, so we have exceeded in so many aspects of this season. It's just really awesome to extend the season."

The Crusaders played a very strong first half, taking a 5-2 lead before Medfield stepped up its play early in the second and also took advantage of several Crusaders' turnovers. The Warriors scored three straight goals to tie it up at 5-5 with 19:28 left in the game. It was 6-6 with 17:08 left before Miller scored with 9:56 left, followed 24 seconds later by the eventual game winning goal by Garside.

"That was just a battle until the end," said Pelletier. "I mean, I'm just so proud (my team). It was a total team effort between defensively, being patient on offense and Gabby was just incredible. I don't even know who to single out because this team on any given night, they all show up, they all work hard and they all push each other everyday so I'm just super proud of them."

Seven different players found the back of the net for the Crusaders. Hannah Wynn led the way with two goals, while, Julia Stathis, Eleanor Eisenklam, Rachel Erickson (also 2 assists) and Abigail Eisenklam had the others.

"That's kind of how it's been for us," said Pelletier. "On any night, sometimes Julia (Stathis) goes off, sometimes it's Hannah Wynn, or it's (Eleanor or Abigail Eisenklam), I'm just super proud. I would say that it wasn't our cleanest game but I'm still impressed (with the win) because you have to give it to Medfield as they are a great team."