GROTON -- The Lady Crusaders had a bit of a scare in the opening minute of Tuesday's game with Wachusett. The Lady Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead 30 seconds in and continued to keep the Groton-Dunstable defense on their toes for much of the opening half.
The Lady Crusaders eventually found their groove midway through the half and never looked back as they defeated Wachusett 21-10. Senior attacking midfielder Lauren Kraemer led Groton-Dunstable with a game-high five goals and six assists.
Head coach Gary Kraemer said the Lady Crusaders' slow start is something his team has become accustomed to.
"It was a little scary at the beginning," said Gary Kraemer. "They came out and shocked us. Our defense was a little flat in the beginning, but in typical fashion we took control midway through the half. Wachusett has some strong attack players, and they were bunching on us inside the eight and confusing us."
Wachusett came out and hit the Lady Crusaders in the jaw when Hope Russell found Keli Carrigan cutting in front of the goal 29 seconds in to put the Lady Mountaineers up 1-0. Kraemer answered the call when she corralled a nice feed by Liv Rubeski in transition to tie the game at 1-1 with 23:45 remaining in the half.
The Lady Crusaders took their first lead of the match 20 seconds later, when Livy Penny found Emma Ordemann to put Groton-Dunstable up 2-1.
Wachusett came storming down the field and tied it up on a spinning strike by Jen Windler with 22:35 left. Windler ignited a three-goal unanswered spurt by the Lady Mountaineers, which forced the Lady Crusaders to dig deep, down 5-2 with 20:18 remaining.
Nicki Wilkinson halted Wachusett's three-goal run with a free-position dart from the right hash at 19:04. A minute and half later, Wilkinson connected with Rubeski, who tucked it low-right corner to cut the Lady Mountaineers' lead to 5-4.
Groton-Dunstable capped off their three consecutive goal barrage when Ordemann took a Kraemer set piece and deposited it top-shelf to tie the game at 5-5 with 17:40 left in the half.
Wachusett took their third lead of the half when Windler coasted into the arch and beat Maria Antonellis unassisted to make it 6-5 with 16:10 remaining.
Groton-Dunstable's offense started to fire on all cylinders late in the first half and went on to outscore the Lady Mountaineers 8-3 in the final 16 minutes. The Lady Crusaders took a 14-8 lead into halftime and showed no signs of slowing down in the final 25:00. Wachusett's Katie Chaffin stunned the Lady Crusaders 30 seconds into the second half with her goal off a nifty pass from Wilcox. Groton-Dunstable's defense would buckle down and allowed just two goals in the second half.
The Lady Crusaders' offense continued to pepper Wachusett keeper Delia O'Conner. Sarah Walsh skipped home her second goal of the afternoon off a crisp pass from Ordemann with 22:16 remaining to put the Lady Crusaders up 15-9.
Annie Lynch rattled the cage for Wachusett on a free-position goal from the right hash to bring the Lady Mountaineers within five with 16:57 left. That would be as close as the Lady Mountaineers would get. Groton-Dunstable scored six unanswered goals in an 11-minute window.
The Lady Crusaders peeled off the attack after Lauren Kraemer's breakaway tomahawk goal with 6:10 remaining that extended the Lady Crusaders' lead to 21-10.
Groton-Dunstable enjoyed stellar offensive performances from Wilkinson and Penny, who each finished with four goals.
"Our midfield played very well today," said Gary Kraemer. "We have an aggressive pair of Libys (Penny and Rubeski) in the midfield. Lauren Kraemer was an assist machine today. The vast majority of our goals came on assists."