CANTON, Mass. -- Something happened to the Duxbury girls hockey team that hasn't happened altogether too often this season - they had to play from behind after the first period.
Judging by how the Dragons came out firing in the middle frame, the early one-goal deficit served little more than to make them angry.
The No. 1 seed in the Division 2 girls hockey tournament unleashed 17 shots in the second while Colleen Leddie popped in two goals en route to her first career hat trick as Duxbury overwhelmed No. 9 Sandwich and finished with a 4-1 victory in the first of two quarterfinal matchups at Metropolis Rink.
"I told these girls it's tournament hockey. We needed to play our game," Dragons head coach Friend Weiler said. "I have to take my hat off to Sandwich, they did a phenomenal job. They packed us in a little bit. It was obviously dump and chase, put us back on our heels and they were hammering us."
"Thankfully we have the depth," he continued. "Thankfully our girls continued to work hard, continued to fight through a little bit of a choppy first period. They turned the corner and it was nice to be able to wear them down because everybody showed up tonight in the latter half of the game. We were a little sluggish out of the gate, some cobwebs, but it was nice to see them finish strong."
The Blue Knights (16-8) have a talented offensive attack led by senior captain Kristen Levesque and sophomore sniper Maggie Layo. It was Levesque who notched the game's first goal as Sandwich took advantage of a subtle lapse by the Dragons (20-0-1) and got a breakout, with Levesque carrying all the way into the Duxbury zone and eventually pushing through a looser puck during mad scramble in the crease at 10:56.
Duxbury opened the second looking to attack and ended up putting 17 shots on Sandwich netminder Molly Kennedy (29 saves) in the second. Kennedy held them off as best she could, but Leddie ultimately broke through twice in the frame.
Marissa Fichter added a power play goal midway through the third and Leddie got her hat trick after pouncing on a turnover during a failed clearing attempt and firing a wrist shot past Kennedy from the left wing circle with 1:11 left to ice it.
"We were really losing focus at the beginning, really psyching ourselves out, so we just started playing simple and things started happening," Leddie explained. "Throughout the whole game and towards the end end we were fighting and had a ton of heart. We all knew what we had to do and we did it."
BELMONT 5, NORWOOD 2
After a pair of fairly even periods, the fifth-seeded Marauders showed why they were a team responsible for several eye-opening upsets during the regular season, getting two goals and an assist from Alexandra Cellucci in a 5-2 thumping of the No. 4 Mustangs in the nightcap.
Erin McLoughlin started the scoring for Belmont (16-4-2) at 3:08 of the first,tipping home a shot by Courtney Winn but Norwood (16-5-1) came right back with a power play goal by Kacie Smith.
In the second, Erin O'Donovan snapped home a wrist shot from the left wing circle, but the Mustangs responded again with an unassisted tally by Emily Kelly at 11:30.
Belmont won the ensuing faceoff and Cellucci flipped a backhander through just 25 seconds after Kelly's goal to put the Marauders ahead for good, 3-2.
Norwood held a 22-21 shot advantage heading into the third, but Belmont dominated the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Mustangs 13-3 and getting goals by Casey McLoughlin and Cellucci, as well as a terrific performance in their own end keyed by defensive leader Britta Marden to set up the showdown most Division 2 girls hockey fans were hoping to see with Duxbury.
"The biggest thing today was team defense," Belmont head coach Mark Haley said. "As you saw in the third period, we just kept them off our goalie. That’s what we have to do, that’s how we play and that’s how we’ve beaten some of the teams we’ve beaten this year, the good teams, is we can keep them off our goalie.
"We can shut teams down like that and that’s what we’re going to have to do to beat Duxbury," Haley added. "We’re going to have to shut them down. Our defense is very very strong and when they play smart, they can dominate."