MIAA Football: Special teams pave way for G-D win over Westborough

GROTON – It’s not often that the punting unit ends up being the deciding factor in a tightly-contested ballgame.

But that’s exactly what happened Thursday night as Groton-Dunstable Crusaders punter Kyle Battles and his coverage team forced three muffed punts that led to 14 G-D points and a 20-13 victory over the Westborough Rangers at G-DRHS.

The win evened the Crusaders’ record at 2-2, while the Rangers fell to 1-3.

After falling behind 7-0 with 4:03 left in the first quarter and failing to convert on a 3rd-and-17, Battles let off a booming punt that glanced off the Westborough return man, unbeknownst to him. The Crusaders coverage team pounced on the ball, and after discussion by the officials, they retained possession. This led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bradley teDuits (11-of-13, 127 yards) to Tristan Naboicheck, tying the game at 7.

On their next drive, the Crusaders got the eventual winning score as teDuits lofted a 37-yard jump ball to Sam Battles, who skied over his defender in the corner of the end zone to make it 14-7.

Kyle Battles and the Crusader punt team struck again shortly before halftime. After their offense was knocked back three yards on 3rd-and-1, Battles spotted a punt perfectly at the Westborough 1-yard line, which they again failed to field cleanly, leading to a recovery and a one-yard score by Shamus Gelinas.

Michael Keogh led the Rangers offense with 11 carries for 95 yards and both Ranger touchdowns. He and fellow running backs Martin Moran and Jacob Clancy had to shoulder the load as the Crusader defense held quarterback Peter Lamountain to 5-of-11 passing for 52 yards and a one-handed interception by G-D’s Tim Stark.

G-D head coach Tom Sousa was relieved to finally have a competitive game after being shut out by 40+ points in two of their first three games and winning 42-8 over North Middlesex in between.

“It was a gritty win,” Sousa said. “It wasn’t pretty in any way, but we had to battle, and we got that done. That’s a win we can definitely feel good about.”



GROTON-DUNSTABLE 20, WESTBOROUGH 13

W (1-3) – 7 0 0 6 – 13
GD (2-2) – 7 13 0 0 – 20

SCORING PLAYS

W – Michael Keogh 1 yard rush (Mac Bradley kick)
GD – Bradley teDuits 19 yard pass to Tristan Naboicheck (Kyle Battles kick)
GD – teDuits 37 yard pass to Sam Battles (K. Battles kick)
GD – Shamus Gelinas 1 yard rush (kick failed)
W – Keogh 8 yard rush (rush failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING

W: Keogh 11-95, 2 TD, Martin Moran 10-61, Jacob Clancy 8-49
GD: Gelinas 19-59, TD.

PASSING

GD: teDuits 11-13-127, 2 TD.

RECEIVING

GD: S. Battles 3-56, TD; Ryan teDuits 4-38; Naboicheck 2-31, TD

Girls’ basketball: G-D gets by Westborough despite inconsistency

GROTON – The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders defeated the Westborough Rangers, 59-46, at G-DRHS Tuesday night. But despite the double-digit margin, there were some anxious moments.

The Crusaders’ best play on both ends of the ball came in the second quarter, in which they outscored the Rangers 21-4 and didn’t allow a point until there was 1:15 left. They made four threes and exhibited great ball movement leading to plenty of wide-open looks. It could have been even more lopsided, given that they forced 10 Westborough turnovers in that period alone, but they were inconsistent in converting those opportunities into points at the other end.

“Those things are going to come and go, but I liked the energy,” G-D head coach Mark Hennelly said. “The effort and the ball movement were good, and I’ll live with that.”

The Rangers made it interesting in the fourth quarter. Down by 20 entering the final frame, they went on a 10-0 run in the first four minutes. Eventually the Crusaders, after scoring their first points of the quarter with four minutes left, would come back with a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach, and Hennelly brought in his second-stringers.

“Mentally, we were in a place where we were all set,” Hennelly said. “We thought we had won, we thought the game was over, we shut down, and [Westborough] decided that they wanted to play the fourth quarter.”



Rebounding was an issue for the Crusaders in the second half, as Westborough came back strong and evened the rebounding totals at 33 per side by game’s end.

“I’m not thrilled with the overall effort,” Hennelly added. “I’m thrilled with certain aspects of it. We played a great second quarter, but I’m not pleased with our defensive rebounding in the second half. We’ve got to be better.”

Three Crusaders scored in double digits: Jenna Plausse (14 points, five rebounds), Lindsay Werner (13 points, six assists, four steals, four rebounds), and Melyssa Langell (11 points, three rebounds). Hanna Van Pelt also had a nice game with nine points and seven rebounds.

The Rangers, who have no seniors on their roster, were led by forwards Melissa Mitrovich (15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) and Kaylie Doherty (six points, 10 rebounds).

“They’re bigger players, which we just have to deal with,” Hennelly said. “We’re always going to be the smaller team, so we’ve got to box out, and we’ve got to maintain intensity. We don’t have the size to just relax and hope that balls are going to fall in our hands.”

The Crusaders improved to 6-4, 3-1 in Mid-Wach B play.

Boys’ hockey: G-D posts a satisfying first win

WESTBOROUGH – The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders have slowly been getting their legs underneath them as the 2014-15 hockey season has progressed, and Monday night at North Star Youth Forum, they finally broke through with a 4-2 victory over the Westborough Rangers.

Harry Perrault got the scoring started at 14:03 of the first period. The Rangers committed a turnover in their own zone, which led to an easy top-shelf wrist shot for Perrault past Westborough goalie Jared Ward.

The Crusaders extended their lead with two goals in 47 seconds in the second period. After an initial save by Ward, Michael Cole collected the rebound and wrapped around the goal to find Nathan Rabbitt, who put it in the wide-open net. Then Westborough’s Evan Leva fanned on a pass at his own blue line, leading to a breakaway and easy goal for Ryan Dodge.

The Rangers finally got on the board at 6:50 of the third period. G-D’s Eric Niemoller fanned on a shot from the blue line, allowing Jacob Uhlman to chase down the puck and head for the goal. Despite two Crusaders draped all over him, he still wriggled free and scored.

The Crusaders eventually put it away with 1:43 to go in the game, as Robert Hoare batted in a rebound out of mid-air with six players representing both teams scrambling in front of the net.

“We played Algonquin exactly the same way,” G-D head coach Phil Rowley said. “We outshot them and outplayed them, we just didn’t finish. But we had some nice finishes today, and we had some nice goals. We moved the puck well, and we had a lot of good shots.”



Westborough’s Dylan Kehoe got the last goal of the game 28 seconds later by scoring from a tough angle on his own rebound, but it was too little too late.

Eight different Crusaders had a point, and two had multi-point games: Perrault (goal, assist) and Bradley Garside (two assists).

In the games leading up to this win, the Crusaders have finally found their identity: pepper the opposing goalie with shots. And they lived up to that mantra by outshooting the Rangers 45-17, including margins of 14-3 in the first period and 17-4 in the second.

“That’s what we need,” Rowley said. “We don’t have any pure scorers, so we need to throw a lot of shots on net… It’s a work in progress. We’re trying to get them to feel good about themselves and do things with muscle memory instead of overthinking.

The Crusaders (1-4) have killed penalties at a 94% rate this season, and only built on that mark by killing all three penalties called against them. In fact, they ended up with more shorthanded shots (three) than Westborough had power play shots (two).

“The penalty kill has been really good for us this year,” Rowley lauded. “We got some good power play looks today which we haven’t gotten in the past.”

The Crusaders will play their home opener Wednesday against Algonquin at the Groton School at 7 p.m.

For more G-D sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

Westborough boys’ soccer rallies late to steal victory, league title from G-D

GROTON – The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ soccer team needed a win or a tie against the Westborough Rangers Wednesday at G-DRHS to clinch the Midland-Wachusett B Division championship and a top-four seed in the MIAA Division 1 Central tournament. They had reason to be confident, having already beaten Westborough 4-3 on the road earlier this season.

But the Rangers scored two goals in the final 12 minutes to steal a 3-2 victory, as well as the league championship, and leave the tournament seedings a mystery.

Jake Pirdy found redemption after scoring an own goal early in the first half by scoring the game winner with under two minutes to play. In a 2-on-1 situation, Jameson Bradley went to Pirdy on the right wing, who got into the box and beat Crusader keeper Tyler Belanger with a grounder to the left to cue the celebration for the Westborough players and their fans.

“[Pirdy] split in between two defenders,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said. “I said to my guys, ‘You’ve got to keep yourselves in front of [Pirdy and Bradley].’ When you’ve got six guys defending the last four minutes trying to keep the game tied, and you fail to do it, you don’t deserve to win.”

Pirdy’s own goal came in the fifth minute when Dean Tornaritis fired a shot that ricocheted off of Westborough keeper Griffin Barry (nine saves) and back in off of Pirdy.

The Rangers responded just two minutes later when Bradley scored his first of two goals in similar fashion. An initial shot was deflected in the box by a Crusader defender, but the rebound came right to Bradley, enabling him to bury it top shelf.

The Crusaders took the lead back in the 14th minute by navigating some choppy waters. Swarmed by Westborough defenders, Matt Straw found an opening to spring Mitch Wheeler, allowing him to get a dribbler past Barry to make it 2-1.



The Rangers pulled even again in the 69th minute in controversial fashion. A corner kick led to lots of contact in the box by both teams, but the referees awarded a penalty kick to Westborough, despite the protests of the Crusaders. Bradley did the honors, and fired it into the upper right corner of the net.

“I thought we had control through the middle of the match,” Wisbey said. “In the last twenty minutes, [Westborough] knew they had to win the game to win the league.”

Wisbey had high praise for Bradley, calling him Westborough’s best player and one of the best in the league.

With the Crusaders and Rangers finishing the season with identical 12-4-2 records, they will likely enter the sectional tournament as the no. 4 and 5 seeds. Wisbey knows that with 11 teams likely qualifying for sectionals, they would meet again next week in the quarterfinals. Which team gets home-field advantage for that game will be up to a coin flip.

“I have to look at the silver lining,” Wisbey said. “We didn’t get it today, but maybe it’s meant to be in the playoffs.”

For more G-D sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.