GROTON — Thursday afternoon’s clash between Groton-Dunstable and Algonquin had all the makings of a playoff game.
Face-offs are an integral part of lacrosse and both teams did a tremendous job in the first half off the draw. Groton-Dunstable and Algonquin split the face-off battle 6-6 in the first half.
Groton-Dunstable had trouble controlling the face-off circle in the second half and head coach Gary Kraemer said that was one of the reasons the Lady Crusaders fell 17-9.
“We went toe-to-toe with them in draws in the first half,” said Kraemer. “In the second half they (Algonquin) really won the draws. I told the girls not to be disappointed about this loss. We were much better than the first time we played them and I am convinced more now than I was before the game that we can beat them.”
Groton-Dunstable went to work early and took the first lead of the match on a brilliant give-and-go from Lauren Kraemer to Olivia Aumais on the left wing just over two minutes in. Livy Penny jump-started the play with her quick outlet pass to Lauren Kraemer, who found Aumais for the low sidewinder to put the Lady Crusaders up 1-0.
Algonquin provided a retaliation goal 1:30 later, when Emily Hart finagled her way into the attacking zone and sent the ball low-right by Groton-Dunstable goalie Maria Antonellis to tie the game at 1-1. Hart’s goal started a trio of unanswered strikes by the Lady T-Hawks. Julia Insani and Hannah Lindgren also poured in goals for Algonquin to put them out in front 3-1.
Groton-Dunstable stepped up the intensity on offense and was rewarded when Emma Ordemann connected with Liv Rubeski in transition.
Rubeski was surrounded by a gaggle of Lady T-Hawk defenders, but she showed persistence and rippled the mesh with an aggressive goal with 15:23 remaining in the half. Algonquin sensed that Groton-Dunstable had no ambition to go away quietly. Maggie Wraight synched up with Steph McGovern with 13:00 remaining in the half.
It was a back-and-forth game for the final 13:00 of the half as Groton-Dunstable managed to keep the game within striking distance. The Lady Crusaders appeared to be in good shape, trailing 7-5 going into the half. Groton-Dunstable got a quick goal less than a minute into the second half.
Nicki Wilkinson streamlined a patient Lady Crusaders’ attack and fed Lauren Kraemer for a point-blank overhand shot to bring Groton-Dunstable within one.
Lindgren answered the call with back-to-back goals as momentum quickly started to shift in the direction of Algonquin. Groton-Dunstable went through a scoring drought of 4:20, before Aumais found Lauren Kraemer for a sidewinder from the left-side to bring the Lady Crusaders a little closer, trailing 10-7 with 17:40 left in the game.
Groton-Dunstable and Algonquin traded goals in the 11th and 12th minute, but it was the Lady T-Hawks who dictated the tempo. Algonquin kept the Lady Crusaders’ offense at bay for the remainder of the second half until Sara Walsh rippled the mesh with six seconds left. Walsh’s goal was merely a consolation prize as the Lady T-Hawks outscored Groton-Dunstable 6-1 in the final 15:00 of the game.
Algonquin held a decisive 28-17 edge in the shot department; 25 of which were on goal.
Kraemer said that Thursday’s game was a good measuring stick for where his team is at this point in the season.
“We had our opportunities,” said Kraemer. “We missed a lot of our shots.
“I am proud of the team,” he said. “We played a good game. The girls are disappointed, but I am looking forward to the second half of the season. We are going to get our fair share of wins.”
Rubeski led the Lady Crusaders with three goals, and Lauren Kraemer chipped in two goals and two assists.
Groton-Dunstable secured a birth in the district playoff field with a 18-15 victory over Tyngsborough Wednesday afternoon.