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Lady Crusaders heart shines through in 7-5 win at Littleton


LITTLETON — The Lady Crusaders escaped their game with Littleton by the skin of their teeth with a 7-5 victory on the road. Littleton controlled the attack for the better part of the game, as the Lady Crusaders failed to put the Tigers’ chances to rest.

Groton-Dunstable spread the scoring amongst their top four finishers in Nicki Wilkinson, Lauren Kraemer and Livie Rubeski, who all chipped in two goals.

Livy Penny scored a lone goal, but an important one for the Lady Crusaders on a day when they weren’t at their very best.

Groton-Dunstable was riding high following their win over Shrewsbury last week, which was the first in program history.

Head coach Gary Kraemer said the short rest between games may have factored into the way his team played.

“We didn’t win, we survived,” said Gary Kraemer. “I knew it was going to be a tough one because they really wanted us. I told the girls I think we won because of heart, not because of skill.”

Littleton won the game’s opening faceoff, and nibbled at the clock in their offensive zone. Kelsey Doran broke through for the Lady Tigers at 2:56 of the first to give Littleton a 1-0 advantage.

Rubeski tallied the Lady Crusaders’ first goal of the morning off a free position shot from about nine feet in front of the goal.

Rubeski beat Littleton goalie Nicole Patterson stick-side to tie the game at 1-1 at 5:56 of the first half. Groton-Dunstable exploded for two more goals before halftime.

Sara Walsh threaded the needle with a crisp pass to a cutting Wilkinson to the right of the goal to give Groton-Dunstable their first lead of the day with 12:34 remaining in the half.

Rubeski would tack on another goal from the free position, this time it was a high-arcing shot from the right hash at 18:43 of the first half.

The Lady Crusaders took a slim 3-1 lead into halftime.Littleton cut Groton-Dunstable’s lead to one at 1:48 of the second half on a goal by Hayley Anderson.

Anderson shot the ball low-left from inside the nine-yard line past Groton-Dunstable goalie Maria Antonelils.

Penny responded a minute later with a powerful shot from the nine-yard line to put the Lady Crusaders back up by two.

Wilkinson tickled the twine less than a minute later with a slingshot goal to put Groton-Dunstable up 6-2 with 20:45 remaining in the game.

Olivia Aumais got the whole play started with a bang-bang textbook pass that caught Kraemer in route to the net.

The Crusaders tried to kill the clock when they went up by four, but Littleton did not quit. The Lady Tigers scored three unanswered goals highlighted by the play of Amanda Gory and Alana Maher.

Maher tallied back-to-back goals for the Tigers at 3:02 and 3:50 of the second half. Maher’s first goal was an unassisted driving goal. She weaved through traffic and slam-dunked the ball past Antonellis to bring the game back within reach at 6-3. Maher’s second tally was a bouncer from in front of the crease.

Lauren Kraemer scored with 3:58 remaining to give the Lady Crusaders a two goal lead that they would not relinquish.

Erin Dorey had a quality chance for Littleton with 1:38 remaining, but it harmlessly rang off the crossbar.

Littleton outshot Groton-Dunstable 22-20, but still managed to squeak out the win.

“We are in the middle of a long streak of games with tough teams,” said Gary Kraemer. “We are getting through it. We played with heart today.I am glad we survived.”