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GROTON — After dropping a regular season game to Marlborough, the Groton-Dunstable boys lacrosse team had to be a little apprehensive when they drew the Panthers as their first-round playoff opponent.

But once the opening whistle blew that apprehension disappeared in a hurry as the Crusaders took immediate control and never let up as they rolled to a 13-4 win.

“This was a great team effort,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Rick Arena. “We were coming off a great practice yesterday and we came into the game sky-high.”

The Crusaders played well in all four quarters, building a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and extending the advantage to 6-1 at halftime. Any thoughts of a comeback by the Panthers were dashed in the third period when Groton-Dunstable scored five of the six goals to extend the lead to 11-2 and put the game totally out of reach.

Steve Espinola paced an explosive Groton-Dunstable offense with five goals, followed by Marc O’Brien with three goals and an assist, Andrew Keaveny and Dave O’Brien with two goals apiece, and Chuck Stewart with a single tally.

Crusader goaltender Neil Sargent backboned the victory with nine saves.

Groton-Dunstable advances to meet Algonquin in the next round.

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