By Michael James LeClair
On a night celebrating the seniors, it was a junior that came to the rescue for the Nashoba Regional girls’ lacrosse team.
With 14 seconds left in the game, and a tie score, Midfielder Kaitlyn Thorogood netted the go-ahead goal to propel the Chieftains to a thrilling 12-11 win over visiting Groton-Dunstable under the lights at Nashoba Regional High School.
The Chieftains kept their playoff hopes alive with the win improving to 6-9 overall and 4-8 in Mid-Wach A. For all intents and purposes the postseason has already begun for Nashoba, who needs to win its final three games to qualify.
The Chieftains end the season with a trio of road games on three consecutive days. Beginning on Monday, Nashoba travels to Wachusett Regional followed by St. Bernard’s on Tuesday and Ashland on Wednesday.
“I’m very proud of my girls tonight. The last time we played Groton-Dunstable it was a similar type game, back and forth. We’re two evenly matched teams,” said Nashoba third-year head coach Tammy Fortune. “The girls knew coming in that they could do this, and it was the first step if they wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive.”
Minutes before the opening whistle, seniors Sam O’Connor, Kirstin Noonan, Cori Gillen, Abbie McCaffrey, Brittany Joseph, Laurel Gumbart and Flora Tierney were recognized for all their hard work and dedication to the Nashoba Regional girls’ lacrosse program.
“The group of seniors we have on this team are amazing, they’re such a nice group of girls and they’ve been dedicated since day one,” said Fortune. “They were doing anything and everything they could to try to make sure that this was going to be a great year. I’m very lucky to have them here. They mean a lot to this program.”
And there was yet another highlight of the evening. Senior Brittany Joseph, a midfielder and captain, notched her 275th career point early in the second half. Joseph finished the contest with five goals leaving her with 277 points entering Monday’s game with Wachusett Regional.
“It wasn’t in the back of my mind, to be honest, I didn’t even know it was my 275th point when I scored it,” chuckled Joseph following the game. “I was looking at Kaitlin (Thorogood) waiting for a high five and she wasn’t even looking at me, she was waiting for the posters. It does feel great and it was nice to have my team behind me.”
Joseph and Thorogood, who also finished with five goals and added three assists, led the Nashoba scoring attack while goalie Janice Bolton made eight saves between the pipes to preserve the win. Nashoba Junior Karleigh Elkins and McCaffrey each potted goals for the winners.
The Crusaders fell to 10-7 overall and 5-6 in Mid-Wach A with the loss.
Thursday’s contest was a see-saw affair throughout. With seven ties and eight lead changes, neither team could create much separation on the scoreboard. Through 25 minutes, neither team had the upper hand as the score was deadlocked at six heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Crusaders tried to pull away, at one point opening a 10-7 lead with just over 20 minutes showing on the
scoreboard. Nashoba, however, fought back with three straight goals to tie things at 10 with 10:21 left.
Groton-Dunstable took its final lead of the night with 6:41 left to grab an 11-10 lead but the Chieftains refused to quit. A goal by Joseph with 5:20 remaining tied the game at 11 and set the stage for Thorogood’s heroics inside the final 15 seconds.
“I knew I had to make it in and I was trying to go for the corner because anything up top or in the middle would be easier to save,” said Thorogood when asked about her eventual game-winner. “I had to make it because this was a big win for our team. This one had a playoff feel to it and it puts us in a good position to keep fighting for the postseason with three more games to play.”
The Nashoba junior walked in and rifled one past Antonellis with 14 seconds showing on the scoreboard to give the hosts a 12-11 lead and propelled the Crusaders to call a timeout to try to set up a possible game-tying play.
The Chieftains refused to relinquish as they didn’t allow a shot on net following the timeout to secure the win.