WORCESTER — Sean Wiseby has shown in his brief time as the head coach of the Groton-Dunstable boys’ soccer team that he isn’t afraid to take on any team, anytime, anywhere. This attitude can be seen in a schedule littered with perennial Division I soccer power houses. After taking a season-opening 5-3 victory, the Crusaders matched up with defending DI champion Worcester North for a second time in eight days.
Despite a starting lineup devoid of their three senior captains, Groton-Dunstable held a 1-0 halftime lead courtesy of a Dan McGuiness goal. The Polar Bears quickly wiped that lead away early in the second half, scoring three times in just 6:15 before adding another late goal to take a 4-1 victory at Foley Stadium on Saturday morning.
“This season is a marathon, not a sprint, and while getting wins early would be nice, we are building ourselves up to be ready for the districts,” said Wiseby. “We got a lot of the younger kids valuable playing time today and this will pay off for us as the season progresses.”
Statistically, Worcester North dominated the game throughout, posting a 27-6 advantage in shots on target and holding a decisive edge in time of possession. The reason the game remained close was due to a strong effort in net from John Nyilis for the Crusaders. Despite waves of Polar Bear offense players breaking through a shaky Groton-Dunstable defense, the junior keeper did his best to keep his team in the game, making 13 saves in a stellar effort.
After each team had a chance go by the boards, the Crusaders broke the ice 13:35 into the contest. Off a throw-in by Adam Kmetz, Alex Murphy sent a pass towards the middle of the box. McGuiness was there to flick home a shot from inside of 10 yards into the top left corner to make it a 1-0 game.
From that point on, Worcester North controlled the flow of play, holding a 6-1 edge in shots on target over the remainder of the first half. The best threat came on a free kick following a yellow card just outside the box. Kweku Flynn curled in a shot that bounced just in front of the net, but Nyilis was there to make the save, one of five in the first 40 minutes as Groton-Dunstable took a 1-0 advantage into the intermission.
Three quality bids went by the boards early in the second half before the Polar Bears finally tied things up at the 49:55 mark. Edward Boateng took advantage of a kind wind and skillfully placed a corner kick from the left side into top right corner of the net to knot the game at 1-1.
Just two minutes and 18 seconds later, Worcester North took the lead for good. Johnny Orellana sent a perfect lead pass down the right side to Flynn, who beat a pair of defenders and slid a shot across his body and inside the left post to give the Polar Bears a 2-1 lead.
Nyilis kept it a one-goal game in the 55th minute with a great diving save of a Boateng shot, but just two minutes later, Worcester North struck again. Boateng drove into the box before sending a pass to Orellana, who drilled a shot from 15 yards out that found the inside of the left post to extend the advantage to two goals.
Boateng capped off the scoring with three minutes left, putting a shot inside the left post from top of the box, capping off a half in which the Polar Bears held a 19-3 advantage in shots on target. The Crusaders offense could not muster any quality threats in the second half, as they fell to 1-2-1 on the season with the loss.
“There are some things we have to work on obviously, but today is a great learning experience for our team,” said Wiseby. “I fully expect that we will become a better team down the road because of today’s game, and I know we will straighten out the issues that are plaguing us.”