GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable dropped an ugly 8-5 decision on the road in rainy Tewksbury Saturday, and it took out its frustration on Wachusett Tuesday afternoon in frigid Groton.
Behind a four goal, two assist performance from its captain Quentin Forbes, Groton-Dunstable sprinted past Wachusett, 15-4, in a Midland A league contest. With the win at the time of publication, Groton-Dunstable improves to 5-4 overall.
The Crusaders fell behind early, 1-0, but that was the only time it would trail. Groton-Dunstable's defense stole the show as the Crusaders were able to ward off the Wachusett attack with precision.
"We just play good dependable defense," Said Groton-Dunstable head coach Rick Arena. "That really set the tone early. We got a couple of quick goals and played up. We just pressed the entire game -- that's something we have been working on in practice. I think we still have that Westboro loss in the back of our heads, and it makes us remember to focus on the little things, no matter what the score is."
Wachusett's Mike Fritschy tallied the game's first goal on a feed from the left side by Connor Dawson. Dawson connected with Fritschy as he streaked across the middle and launched the ball in the low right corner of the cage to make it 1-0 Wachusett with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Two-minutes later, junior midfielder Zach Cotoni threaded the needle from behind the goal to Justin Cole, who fired the equalizing skip-shot under the crossbar to beat Wachusett goalie Chris Ritter.
Groton-Dunstable out-scored the Mountaineers, 4-1, in the second quarter to take a 6-2 lead into the half.
After surrendering a pair of goals midway through the third quarter, the Crusader defense dug in and converted Wachusett turnovers into goals. Irby and Ryan Heinser won the battle in the faceoff circle for the Crusaders in the second half.
Irby went on a 3-0 streak in the circle, which led to a trio of goals by Forbes. Following Forbes' dominant showing, long stick midfielder Myles Markham turned in a gutsy finish in traffic.
Markham steamrolled his way into the teeth of the Mountaineer defense and ripped a shot from in front of the crease as he was checked to the turf to extend the Groton-Dunstable lead to seven goals, 11-4, with 2:57 remaining in the third .
Ryan Dodge cashed in on back-to-back late third quarter goals to push the Crusader lead to nine at the end of three.
Arena gave his reserves some extra minutes in the fourth quarter as the game was pretty much in hand.
Irby collected his second assist of the game on a touch pass to junior attack Paul Leonardo, who whipped it home from the right side.
"We are a good team," he said. " We have some good players out there, but we just need to play consistently. Forbes quietly gets a lot of points.
He is a great feeder, but today he was our finisher. AJ Dufresne played great on the groundballs in the first quarter -- that's the best defensive quarter we have played all year."
Groton-Dunstable junior goalie PJ Kendall stopped 15 shots in the win. The Crusaders out-shot Wachusett, 25-12.