AUBURN -- In Auburn, streets are dotted with signs reading "Home of the 2011 Division 2 Girls' Soccer State Champion Auburn Rockets."
Groton-Dunstable ended the Rockets' hope for a repeat Monday night. The Lady Crusaders defeated the Rockets 1-0 with 8:51 left in the second overtime. An Auburn foul set up a free kick for the Lady Crusaders about 28 yards from goal.
Senior striker Dani Kenney teed up a majestic ball that found the foot of Lindsay Werner and she buried it in the back of the net for the game winner.
"It was just a great ball by Dani; if she didn't cross that I wouldn't have put it in," Werner said.
The Lady Crusaders' improbable run as a 14-seed continues at least for another day. Groton-Dunstable won five of their last seven matches, going 5-1-1 down the stretch to qualify for the playoffs.
"I think Auburn is a great team. I think that the team who deserved to win tonight won," said Groton-Dunstable head coach Steven Naboicheck.
Groton-Dunstable quickly proved that seeding is irrelevant; it's how you approach each game. The Lady Crusaders came out of the gates energized and up for the challenge.
For the initial 10-minutes of the match, much of the play was controlled at the midfield. Auburn's best shot of the first half came off a corner kick by senior captain Kayla Almstrom that found the foot of Erin Scanlon, whose shot would've broken the stalemate were it not for Groton-Dunstable's Bethany Fordham standing at the near post to clear the ball. Fordham's defensive stand with 28:00 left in the first half was one of the many great plays of the match.
Groton-Dunstable's defense had minor lapses in the first half but they were able to plug the issues and turn away Scanlon on multiple occasions. The Lady Crusaders had more quality chances than the Rockets in the first half.
Groton-Dunstable controlled the time of possession in the second half by keeping the ball in their offensive third. Sophomore midfielder Ariana LaCombe had the Lady Crusaders' best chance in regulation with 31:06 left in the game. LaCombe belted a shot from the right flank off the top-left corner of the crossbar, and it was deflected off an Auburn player setting up a Groton-Dunstable corner kick.
Kenney bombed the ball into the 18-yard box with 30:08 left, and Brittany Belanger tried her luck from the right side and aimed her shot off of Auburn goalkeeper Jordann Hague. Haugue bobbled the initial save, but was able to recover and squander any chance at a garbage goal.
Auburn had a chance at goal with under 17:00 remaining in the match. Scanlon bombed two consecutive shots to the right side of the goal, but senior Groton-Dunstable goalkeeper Kailyn Rekos dove twice to her left and stymied the Rockets' scoring chances.
Groton-Dunstable would have one more promising chance before time expired on regulation. Haugh made a diving save on a laser of a shot by Kenney with 4:18 left in the match.
In the overtime period, both teams began to show signs of fatigue. Groton-Dunstable was just biding time, as they made the most of the free kick by their setpiece specialist Kenney.
Shots were at a premium in the match, as Groton-Dunstable outshot Auburn 14-9.
Naboicheck's club faced a schedule laden with Division 1 programs, and he believes that their record isn't indicative of their level of play.
"The issue is the majority of our games are against Division 1 teams. We have had some success against the Division 1 teams we faced. We are finally playing teams our size," he said. "I am not surprised by this, and I expect to play on Saturday."