By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional girls’ lacrosse team opened the season on the wrong foot. The host Chieftains welcomed Groton-Dunstable and was more than gracious as the Crusaders scored early and often en route to a 21-10 victory on Tuesday afternoon.
Groton-Dunstable’s Nicki Wilkinson scored eight goals and teammates Sophia Irby and Olivia Aumais scored three goals as the visitors potted the contests first nine tallies and never looked back.
Two bright spots offensively for the Chieftains were Abbie Brubaker and Karleigh Elkins. The duo each found the back of the Groton-Dunstable cage three times in the loss.
“I thought our girls brought the hard work and enthusiasm during the preseason. This game today didn’t reflect our potential and where I think this team can go this year,” said Nashoba head coach Tammy Fortune following the defeat. “Groton-Dunstable is a very good team and they have some strong stick work. They also really did a great job with the fast break.”
The Chieftains followed Tuesday’s performance with a tough 14-3 loss at the hands of Algonquin Regional on Thursday afternoon at home to drop to 0-2 on the infant season.
Nashoba senior goalie Janice Bolton made some big saves for the Chieftains despite coming out on the short end against the Crusaders. Bolton made 11 saves for Nashoba and is optimistic her squad can turn things around and make some pretty big strides in the right direction this spring.
“We’re still a pretty young team and there are some things we need to work on, but I’m confident in this group and this team. I know that we will improve as the season progresses and we’ll see results,” said Bolton. “We have six seniors on the team and we do the best we can to try and work with the younger players and help them get better. I think we’re going to have a strong season.”
Against the Crusaders, Nashoba had a difficult time generating any offense in the early going as Groton-Dunstable’s attack had the hosts on the defensive for a large portion of the first 25 minutes.
The guests struck 21 seconds in with the contest’s first goal and then added eight more in the first 11 minutes. It wasn’t until seniors Elkins and Kaitlyn Thorogood, both midfielders, scored back to back, blasting shots past Crusaders net minder Maria Antonellis with 13:08 and 12:15 left respectively to make it 9-2.
Groton Dunstable recovered and regained the momentum with four of the next six goals to take a 13-4 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Chieftains continued to fight as senior midfielder Olivia Hurd made it 13-5 less than two and a half minutes into the frame, but the guests weren’t to be denied on this day.
Groton netted back to back goals to push the lead to double digits at 15-5. According to MIAA rules, when a team has a lead of 10 goals or more it activates a running clock – meaning the official clock does not stop unless a timeout is called.
“It’s hard to come back when you dig yourself that big of a hole early on but it’s not impossible. With girls lacrosse you can score a goal in six or seven seconds, so we kept the positive attitude and attack approach throughout the entire game,” said Fortune. “Our girls didn’t quit when they fell behind. They played hard and never stopped right up until the very end which was great to see.”
The hosts continued to grind and battle it out until the final whistle blew. Despite the loss, Fortune was pleased with the effort and hard work put forth by several of her players. Individuals like freshmen Meg Carey, Magen Cook and Hurd impressed Fortune with their gutsy performances.
Last spring, the Chieftains finished the season with a sub .500 record accumulating six wins on their way to a 6-11-1 overall record. Nashoba finished 3-9 in the ultra competitive Midland Wachusett “A” League. This year’s charges are hoping to improve on their 2014 mark and continue to move the program in the right direction and one step closer to the sectional tournament.