Groton Dunstable 1
By Derek Blanchette
GROTON — For the first forty minutes of their game on Monday, the Groton-Dunstable boys’ soccer team looked like the top squad in Mid-Wach B. For the next forty minutes, the Crusaders looked like 11 players who had never met each other before. Using fresh legs and solid depth, Nashoba took advantage, scoring a pair of late goals to pull out a 2-1 victory.
“You can’t play just forty minutes, if you do that, you will lose every time,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Dick Nyman. “I thought we were phenomenal in the first half, but we were a completely different team in the second half.”
Just over seven minutes into the game, the Crusaders drew first blood on a spectacular bit of teamwork. Dan Callahan made a strong run down the left side of the field before sending a cross to the middle of the box. Chris Chenelle broke by a pair of defenders and one-timed a shot off the cross that found the top left corner to make it a 1-0 game.
The Chieftains saw their best chance of the first half go by the boards in the 15th minute. David Laintiano sent a long ball ahead to Joel Mandell, who appeared to be off-sides but no call was made. Mandell made a quick move to get free and lined a shot from 18 yards out that was saved by Groton-Dunstable’s Steven Roundtree (eight saves), with a diving effort.
A long ball was played into Nashoba territory and Chenelle gained controlled of the ball. After a couple of moves, Chenelle broke in and went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, lining a shot that was saved by a diving D.J. Siewierski and cleared away as the Crusaders to settled for a one-goal advantage heading into the intermission.
“That was a big save towards the end of the half,” said Nyman. “It would have been big for us to have a two goal lead going into the half, and maybe things would have turned out differently.”
When the second half began, Nashoba turned the tables, becoming the aggressor. It was Groton-Dunstable who was on the defensive from the opening kick to the final whistle as the Chieftains took the action to their tiring opponent.
In the third minute of the second half, Mandell got loose inside the box and fired a shot from 15 yards out. Roundtree was there to make a leaping save, deflecting the ball over the crossbar to protect the lead.
After firing several shots wide and high of the net, Nashoba came up with another solid scoring chance. Midway through the second half, Sean Busch sent a long ball down the right side to Mandell, who slid a shot from the right side towards the low left corner, but Roundtree was there once again to make a diving save.
For the next ten minutes, the Crusaders held the fort, but eventually thing came apart in the span of a minute and 28 seconds when the Chieftains picked up a pair of tallies to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
At 30:47, Mandell took a loose ball off a deflected pass and drove down the right side. After getting by a pair of defenders, Mandell pushed a shot past a diving Roundtree into the lower left corner to knot the game at 1-1.
Jonathan Janda picked up the game-winner at 32:15 on a solid individual effort. After making a long run down the left side, Janda made a quick cut towards the middle and fired a shot into the low right corner to give Nashoba a 2-1 advantage.
Groton-Dunstable was unable to put together a last threat to try to tie the game. Over the final 40 minutes, the Crusaders did not put a single shot on goal while allowing Nashoba to possess the ball for almost 90 percent of the time. The Chieftains did an outstanding job of playing keep away and preserving the 2-1 win.
“This was game we should have won against a beatable team,” said Nyman. “It is just very frustrating to let a game like this get away because of a poor half of soccer.”