Saturday, May 9, 2015

Postgame Blog and Highlights: Groton-Dunstable Hands Tyngsboro Its First Loss

Groton-Dunstable junior Nick Irby throws in a late goal. He led all scorers with three goals and four assists.

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Groton-Dunstable used a six-goal run to pull away from rival Tyngsboro 14-11 Saturday, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season and scoring a big win in the race for playoff positioning in Division 3 Central/East.

You can check out highlights of the game, as well as a few other notes, below.

Cotoni Delivers

In the game's biggest moments, Groton-Dunstable continually received big plays from its senior leader. It was Cotoni's transition goal with just seven seconds remaining in the third quarter that sparked the six-goal Crusader run, and his passing proved pivotal for G-D as well.

He dished out a pair of assists during that run, and finished the day with five points (2G, 3A). It was clearly a big win for the senior who wants to go out on a positive note, and beating an old rival is certainly one way to do that.

"We wanted it bad," Cotoni said. "A lot of kids play football, so we know about this rivalry and all know each other."

Irby Steps Up

But the game's leading scorer was actually Crusader junior Nick Irby, who completed the run with a dagger of a goal, and finished the day with a hat trick and four assists. Irby was just one of many Crusaders making excellent passes late in the third and fourth quarter, after some sloppy overthrows in the early parts of the game.

"I think we finally cleaned it up (in the fourth quarter)," Cotoni said. "We knew we just had to spread the ball around, and we finally started doing that. We just made a few mistakes, throwing the ball away a little bit."

"We were able to stay composed in the fourth quarter, and we played a heck of a quarter," Groton-Dunstable head coach Rick Arena said. "We knew they score a lot of goals and they're an undefeated team. We knew this was gonna be a battle... We just had to match them and we came out on top in the end."

Kendall Comes Up Big Down the Stretch

As great as the Crusaders were offensively, they likely wouldn't have won if not for a few clutch saves from senior goalie P.J. Kendall. Despite some early struggles, Kendall bounced back to make 10 saves, including four big ones in the third quarter to help spark the Groton-Dunstable run.

Playing against a team with as many weapons as Tyngsboro can present some challenges, but Kendall insists it was business as usual.

"Just like any other game, you kind of just keep your eye on the ball," Kendall said with a laugh.

Tyngsboro Will Be Back

Despite the loss, Tyngsboro still looks like a team that will be a tough out for anybody in Division 3. Kyle Laforge played most of the second half hurt and still finished with a hat trick, while Austin Coene scored twice and dished out a pair of assists. Nick Foley was constantly around the cage, scoring three goals, and Russ Gillis added a pair as well.

The Tigers were hurt by the fact that Laforge, normally a force at the face-off X, was was paying hurt in the second half, and Tyngsboro felt the pain as well, struggling to gain possession of the ball.

In the end, this game was probably a good experience for Tyngsboro. It showed the Tigers that they are beatable, and gave them some adversity to fight back from. With a few minor tweaks, it's hard not to see this team among the favorites in D3 CE in a few weeks.

Tournament Ramifications

Both of these teams will be fighting for position in what appears to be a stacked Division 3 Central/East bracket. Reigning district champion Dover Sherborn again looks like D3 CE's top seed, and Weston, Watertown and Bedford will likely fill in the seeds below them.

After last year's run to the district finals, Groton-Dunstable should be a team nobody wants to see, and they could end up seeded in the middle of the bracket, making them a difficult game for one of those schools in the second round. Tyngsboro had a chance to all but lock up a Top-4 seed with a win today, but the top quarter of the bracket is still reachable for the Tigers, who will now turn their attention to road games at Leominster and Shepherd Hill next week.

This game, perhaps, meant more to G-D though, who clinched a winning record against D3 opponents this year, and thus, a tournament berth. The fact that the Crusaders are also 8-5 while playing an almost entirely Division 2 schedule, with big wins over Tewksbury, Westboro, Nashoba and Wachusett can't hurt their seeding either.

It ain't over yet though, as these two old rivals will meet again to close out the season on the 26th. There may be even more on the line in that one.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Nice job ! Was at the game captured it well!