GROTON - On a day where nearly everything went Groton-Dunstable's way, the Crusaders stormed past familiar foe, North Middlesex, 4-0, Saturday. Groton-Dunstable sophomore forward Gabe Dingle continued to impress, recording two goals and an assist to lead the Crusaders.
North Middlesex's scoring woes continue as the Patriots have yet to register a goal in their first five matches.
We were down a couple of guys who couldn't make it," North Middlesex head coach Pen Burnham said. "They're tough. We haven't had much offense, but we were getting some shots on goal in the second half. We still haven't scored a goal in the last five games. We're just in a drought. When I'm missing two guys, I only have five subs. We're still not a big team."
For Groton-Dunstable head coach Sean Wisbey, his team's record a quarter of a way through the season is about what he expected.
"The first fourth we come out .500, that's great considering we had to play Sutton,Algonquin, Nashoba and Westboro," Wisbey said. "To come out of that at .500 is great. We need to win these next four. We expect to win that second quarter. Our schedule is a difficult schedule; we had to have this outcome."
While Wisbey is content with his team's overall performance through four matches, it is not without some worry. Standout junior striker Matt Tornaritis went down with an apparent ankle injury with about 14:00 remaining in the second half.
"Overall that (losing Tornaritis) is going to be tough
Prior to the injury, Tornaritis helped put the Crusaders on the board with a wonderful low-lying cross from the left side. Tornaritis's set piece navigated its way to the foot of Dingle who blasted it past North Middlesex senior goalkeeper Michael Niemi at 7:17 of the opening half.
Next, it was senior Matt Straw who rippled the twine at 15:02. Straw dribbled atop the 18-yard box and peppered a curling shot that snuck just out of the reach of Niemi to make it 2-0.
Brogan Walsh put another quality strike on net, but Niemi elevated and hauled in his sixth save of the half.
. That is where the score would stand as the hosts out-shot the Patriots 8-2 in the first half.
5:40 into the second half, Groton-Dunstable padded its lead. Tornaritis collected a well-timed cross from Dingle and launched it into the low left pocket of the net to put the Patriots up 3-0.
Groton-Dunstable rounded out the scoring with a majestic header by Dingle. Straws whirling cross came in from the right sideline and Dingle flicked it past Niemi at 57:10.
North Middlesex senior Jake Fitzgerald put together a handful of promising runs in the second half, but none were prettier than when he peppered the woodwork in the 70th minute.
Fitzgerald spun through a pair of Groton-Dunstable midfielders and blasted a howling shot from atop the box and shook the crossbar. Despite the lopsided score, Burnham's Patriots kept plugging away.
"I was impressed with some of the stuff," Burnham said. "If that crossbar one went in, it would have been a morale boost. We are going to keep working at it."