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GROTON — Groton-Dunstable defeated border rival North Middlesex 3-1 on senior night, Tuesday evening in Groton. The Crusaders remain in the hunt for a playoff berth with a record of 7-4-2.

Groton-Dunstable dug itself a bit of a hole early in the match when North Middlesex sophomore striker Annika Jurgilewicz headed home a loose ball in front of the net in the fourth minute.

Groton-Dunstable tied the game on a cross from Arianna Lacombe to Sydney Volpe, who blasted it inside the far post to tie the game atg 1-1

The Crusaders caught a break a five minutes later, when Lacombe was fouled inside the 18-yard box. Lacombe lined up for a penalty kick and blasted the ball over the right shoulder of North Middlesex goalie Katie King (eight saves).

“I thought we were able to answer back with a goal of our own pretty quickly,” Groton-Dunstable interim head coach Charlie Valacer said. “It was really nice for a couple of our seniors to score goals on senior night.”

Jurgilewicz struck early for the Patriots with a brilliant header off a corner kick into the box from Julia Sheehan. Sheehan’s cross was met with a shot from Gabriella Trust, but Jurgilewicz was in perfect position to beat Groton-Dunstable goalkeeper Elyssa Briggs and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

“She is going to be a shining star in the next couple of years,” North Middlesex head coach Margaret Desilets. “Annika is just a very tough player, who really has a nose for the ball. She is not afraid to get into the mix with some of the tougher players in our league.”Groton-Dunstable netted its third goal of the match before half time on a chip shot from senior Nicole Georges, who settled a beautiful throughball from Danielle Johnson. North Middlesex returned a few new players to its lineup, who have been sidelined for much of the season.

“It presented a bit of a challenge getting the girls who were injured back into action,” Desilets said. “The girls were having a hard time meshing, but hopefully, it will get better with time. Tonight, we got away from what we do best — possessing the ball and keeping it on the ground.”

Groton-Dunstable controlled the tempo in the second half, outshooting the Patriots 22-10 for the match. The Crusaders were awarded a close range free kick from just outside the 18-yard box, but the attempt by Kara Jussaume soared over the crossbar.

“We had the pressure turned up offensively in the second half,” Valacer said. “The defense of Mariana Murphy and Briana Considine

North Middlesex has matches against Marlboro, Gardner, Nashoba and Tyngsboro.

“We have to win all four of our remaining matches to qualify for the tournament,” Desilets said. “It is is not going to be easy.”

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser

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