Crusaders’ Magical Run Ends in Division 2 East Final
NATICK -- After edging Medfield to get to the sectional final, the Groton-Dunstable girls lacrosse team was bounced Thursday.
The Crusaders (14-5) hung tough against top-seeded Wayland into the second half, but a seven-goal run late in the second half led the Warriors to the 17-8 victory, and a berth in the state Division 2 semifinals.
“You have to give it to Wayland, they’re an incredible team,” said Crusaders coach Kasey Pelletier. “I don’t think we possessed the ball and we weren’t winning the draw. Little things.”
Wayland leaped out early, scoring three times before the Crusaders could find the back of the net. Despite the scores, the Crusaders made life difficult for the Warriors, with G-D forcing turnovers and using an aggressive ride to make entry tough.
Sarah Mullins finally found the net at the 12:47 mark to cut into the Wayland lead, deking in front of the cage and beating the Wayland goalie for the first time.
The first tally sparked a two-goal run, with Rachel Erickson potting one just over a minute later.
The Warriors went on a two-goal run of their own, finding the back of the net to build a 5-2 lead.
Goalie Gaby Orlando stopped a Wayland flurry with five minutes to go in the first half, stopping a transition chance off the draw before saving the rebound.
But, the clearing game came back to bite the Crusaders. They turned it over after a Wayland foul, not able to capitalize on transition. The Crusaders went 4-for-8 clearing in the first half, struggling to move the ball past the centerline despite the defense holding down the Warriors’ potent offensive attack.
Julia Stathis found the net with 19 seconds left in the opening half to cut the lead to 6-3.
The Crusaders won the first two draw controls of the half and found the net, with Ellie Eisenklam putting one in before a quick transition tally from Stathis less than a minute later.
But, the Warriors weren’t about to sit back. They stripped away the third straight Crusaders’ draw win and Caroline Lampert connected to make it a two-goal advantage once more.
Another failed clear for the Crusaders resulted in the Warriors taking a three-goal advantage. Eisenklam found the twine in transition to make it an 8-6 deficit.
The game shifted midway through the second half when Wayland won three draws in a row and piled on the goals, building up to a 12-7 lead.
Lily Tardiff spun from behind the cage and forced her way in front of the crease for a goal, making it a 13-7 lead for the Warriors, their largest of the game.
Orlando came up with a save following a Wayland draw control out of a timeout with 11 minutes to go, leading to a free position chance downfield for the Crusaders. Wayland made the save, and the Warriors offense got back to work.
Even with plenty lost to graduation, the Crusaders return some key players next season following a year of gaining experience with a deep playoff run.
“There’s a lot to take away, there’s a lot of positives,” said Pelletier. “With 11 seniors, they’ve left a lasting impression on this program. I’m super proud of how they didn’t give up until the end.”