ASHBURNHAM — Saturday morning’s game against Oakmont was a crucial one for the Groton-Dunstable girls lacrosse team. The Lady Crusaders entered the game with a 5-5 record, placed firmly on the post-season bubble, while the Spartans entered the game with a 6-2 record. The Lady Crusaders nearly learned a valuable lesson, when you have a team down keep them there, but all’s well that end’s well and Rachel Silveria’s overtime goal was the difference in a hard-earned 11-10 victory.
Groton-Dunstable was on the verge of blowing this game open on a number of occasions, jumping out to a 4-1 lead and taking four-goal leads at both 7-3 and 9-5. But the Spartans tossed the ultimate scare into the Lady Crusaders with the final four goals of regulation.
“We came out completely flat and after we built a lead we got lazy,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Rich Mitchell. “Katie O’Brien is only a freshman and was starting just her second varsity game, but she came up big. Rachel Silveria is a gamer and she scored a nice goal to win it after taking an outstanding pass from Lauren Kraemer. We won the game, but we have a lot to work on.”
After Cortney Nivala (five goals) put the Spartans on top with a goal in the opening minute, Groton-Dunstable responded in a big way with four unanswered goals.
Haley Pollard evened things up with an unassisted tally, making a strong right wing run, cutting in toward the net and netting a low shot.
Erika Eipp put the Lady Crusaders on top 2-1 when she picked up a loose ball in front and scored from close range. Just over a minute later, Livy Penney took a pass from Nicki Wilkinson and sent a shot under the cross bar after a run down the slot.
Oakmont called a time-out, but the Lady Crusaders added to the lead when Kraemer (five goals, two assists) netted a short shot.
After the Spartans climbed to within 4-3 on goals by Anna Papora and Nivala, the Lady Crusaders turned things around with a three-goal flurry.
Eipp made it 5-3 as she took a pass from Kraemer and fired a shot under the cross bar after a spin move.
Kramer netted back-to-back goals, the first a point blank shot after taking a pass from Sam Porter, and the second a low shot inside the left post. At that point, the Lady Crusaders owned a 7-3 advantage.
The Spartans sliced a goal off the lead when Nivala netted her third of the half, and the teams went to intermission with G-D on top 7-4.
After Oakmont’s Papora scored to open the second half, the Lady Crusaders scored back-to-back goals to rebuild the four goal lead.
Kraemer took a pass in front from Eipp and slipped a shot under the cross bar, before Kraemer scored her fifth of the game after taking a pass in the slot from Eipp.
Oakmont wouldn’t go away and tightened up defensively and scored four consecutive goals. When Kristen Aveni took a pass outside the left post and shot under the cross bar, it was 9-9.
Oakmont goaltender Lisa Maki, who played the second half, came up big with back-to-back saves off Eipp and Kelsey Doran, but the third time was a charm as Eipp broke through the defense and netted a bouncer to put the Lady Crusaders on top 10-9.
The Spartans weren’t to be denied and bounced right back. With just 1:15 remaining, Tara Harrington finished off a fast break with a low shot to tie things up at 10-10.
Oakmont had one final chance to win the game in regulation when the Spartans carried the ball into the offensive end, but Groton-Dunstable defender Katie Judge made a key interception and the teams went to overtime.
The Spartans won the draw to open the overtime and carried the ball into the offensive end. They worked the ball around, looking for a quality shot, but O’Brien made her 16th and final save of the game, and Groton-Dunstable came down and out of a set offense Kraemer sent a pass to Silveria outside the right post and the senior delivered the decisive tally to put away the vital win that put the Lady Crusaders over the .500 mark..
“Oakmont did a good job of going one-on-one offensively against us,” said Mitchell. “We had the game under control, but we struggled to put them away and it almost cost us an important win.”