GROTON - The Groton-Dunstable boys' soccer team has started its defense of its District title in impressive fashion. After finishing 12-2-4 and drawing the fifth seed in the tournament, the Crusaders made quick work of 12th-seeded St. Bernard's, 9-0, at home Friday before traveling to fourth-seeded Grafton and claiming a 2-0 victory on Sunday night to move into the semifinals.

Dominating opening round

It took Groton-Dunstable just 2:36 to pick up what proved to be the game-winning goal versus the Bernardians. Ben Lutz, who scored just three goals in the regular season, got things started with an unassisted tally. Four and a half minutes later, Doug Rosa picked up an assist on a Mike Keating goal. At the 13:45 mark, Rosa played set-up artist again, adding a helper on a Morgan Manthous goal that made it 3-0.

Eventually, the Crusaders' leading scorer made his presence felt. Senior tri-captain Nate Pomeroy struck twice within 161 seconds, scoring his 19th and 20th goals of the season, both assisted by Alex Murphy as Groton-Dunstable held a 5-0 advantage heading into the intermission.

Lutz was at it again in the 49th minute, taking a Pomeroy pass and driving a shot home for his second goal of the day. Matt Tornaritis got into the mix, scoring a pair of goals off assists by Paolo Filho and Murphy respectively, while Nick Fordham closed the scoring with a tally in the 73rd minute off a pass from Steinar Skagestead as the Crusaders eased to a 9-0 victory.

All of the numbers favored Groton-Dunstable in this one as they held a 31-2 advantage in shots on goal and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks. Also contributing to the win with solid efforts were Adam Kmetz and Tim Hilbrunner.

Indians provide test

With the win over St. Bernard's, the Crusaders earned a trip to Grafton, who had ousted last year's District finalist, Nipmuc, on Friday. While the scoring outburst from Friday did not carry over, the same result did as Groton-Dunstable picked up a 2-0 win.

The focus of the Indians defense was on shutting down Pomeroy, which they effectively did, but the Crusaders showed their depth and defensive ability on this night.

Tornaritis and Rosa picked up the goals, while the defense put together another shutout, their sixth consecutive in post-season play. Connor McGuire came up with three saves while Mike Keating and Filho were instrumental in Groton-Dunstable's strong defensive play. Murphy also had a strong game in the midfield as the Crusaders earned the right to take on top-seeded Millbury on Wednesday evening.