GROTON -- In a Saturday morning make-up game that was rained out early in the season, Groton-Dunstable beat North Middlesex for the second time in two days, 19-9, in Groton. Groton-Dunstable junior Nicole Wilkinson paced the Crusaders with a game-high six goals and two assists. Groton-Dunstable has outscored the Patriots 43-19 over two games.
"Our defense looks ten-times better than the start of the season," first-year Groton-Dunstable head coach Sarah Valacer said. "We have really worked on our transition game. Our passing is crisp through the midfield, so we are getting a lot of one v. ones down low. Sarah Walsh is playing very well for us. She is scoring because she is placing her shots very well. She is definitely at 100 percent, which is key for us going into the playoffs."
Groton-Dunstable sprinted out to a 5-1 lead 10 minutes into the game behind three goals from Wilkinson and strikes by Livy Penney (four goals) and Sara Walsh(two goals). North Middlesex's first goal of the game came at 10:31 of the first half. Mackenzie Gray beat Groton-Dunstable goalie Maria Antonellis low-left to make it 5-1. The Crusaders closed the quarter on a three-goal run to take a 9-4 lead into the half. Groton-Dunstable cashed in on a North Middlesex yellow card with a pair of goals from Penney and Walsh.
"Liv Rubeski and Liv Penney are really working it well in the midfield, which is good for us," she said. "Our goalie Maria Antonellis (14 saves) is always there for us, and she gets the defense together. Anyone who comes off the bench on defense is good for us.
"That has really been a big development for us this season, but it started as our weakest point and it is starting to turn into our strongest asset."
North Middlesex junior midfielder Madison Ozog scored a pair of goals to start the second half, but Groton-Dunstable responded with five straight tallies.
The three-pronged attack of Wilkinson, Rubeski and Walsh peppered the North Middlesex goal to extend Groton-Dunstable's lead to 14-6 with 17:38 remaining.
North Middlesex added three goals in the later stages of the half from Ozog and Kimmie Zuccaro.
Zuccaro tallied four goals for the Patriots. Ozog scored three of her four goals in the second half.
"This is our second-year making the playoffs in a row," she said. " The girls and I are happy to have qualified for the playoffs with (three) games left to play."