Skip to content




WELLESLEY — For the first-time in Groton-Dunstable girls lacrosse history, the Crusaders are headed to the Division 2 state final following a 10-9 overtime victory over North champion Ipswich on a soggy MacDowell Field on the campus of Babson College.

Groton-Dunstable junior Sara Walsh scored the eventual game-winner with 2.9 seconds remaining in the opening overtime period on a feed by Nicki Wilkinson from behind the cage.

“The heart of this team is enormous,” Groton-Dunstable head coach Sarah Valacer said. “It starts with Nicki Wilkinson and it goes right on down. The difference was that we were more conditioned. We were out-running them the entire second half and out-hustling them.”

Crusader defender Julie King drew a clutch charge with 34.9 seconds remaining in double overtime to take the pressure off junior goalie Maria Antonellis.

“This the farthest we have come — there is no way this was going to be our last game,” King said. “All I could think of is that I could not let them. I saw the Ipswich girl fake left and take a little step, then I knew she was going to go right. I just leaned back and took the charge.”

The Crusaders (14-6) advanced to Thursday evening’s state final against Norwell at Harvard at a time to be determined. Score unavailable at time of press.

“We watched them play for a little bit before our game,” Valacer said. “They pass the ball very well. We will keep that in mind, but it is going to be a tough one for us.”

Groton-Dunstable trailed for the majority of the game, as the Tigers scored just five seconds in.

But Groton-Dunstable continued to chip away.

Groton-Dunstable freshman Ellie Eisenklam and sophomore Sophie Irby each had three goals to pace the Crusaders.

Wilkinson had a team-high five assists.

Groton-Dunstable took its first lead of the game with 2:30 remaining in the second half on a driving finish from Wilkinson, which made it 9-8.

Ipswich (13-6) milked the clock and scored with 1:41 remaining to force overtime on the strike from Jordan Morrissey.

Antonellis stopped 13 shots. And she did it all without veteran defenders Becca Herlihy and Fiona Henry.

“We had both of our top defenders out, so I was nervous about how they would do on the big stage,” Antonellis said. “I knew that we would be able to step it up –they pulled it out. Julia really took charge today and they were amazing tonight. When I saw her take that charge , I was thrilled. That was probably one of my favorite plays. I am really proud of Julia taking that charge. I think that’s what won us the game.”

Groton-Dunstable knew it had a strong team going into the season, but little did the No. 5 seed out of the Central/Western bracket know it would be heading to the state finals.

“When we got past Bromfield, I started to think what is next,” Antonellis said. “I think states is completely reasonable for what we have done this season.”

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter and Tout@EdNiser