FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Check in with coach Friend Weiler after just about any Duxbury girls hockey game and you are likely to hear mention that, in the biggest games, Hannah Murphy is a lock to step up and do something to help her team win.
Coming up with different superlatives to describe Murphy's play night after night can prove difficult because it happens so often but Weiler may have topped himself when he finished praising his senior captain with the line, "Magic Murphy ruled the day again."
Murphy was indeed magical in a game the third-ranked Dragons had circled on the calendar immediately after a 1-0 loss to Falmouth on Jan. 5. She scored a pair of first period goals, assisted on another, and also helped a key a shorthanded unit that killed off eight power plays in a 4-1 victory over the third-ranked Clippers Wednesday night at Falmouth Arena.
"I'll say it once and I'll say it a thousand times, she plays her biggest in the biggest games," Weiler explained. "She was charged up, she leads by example, she had the girls ready to go today. Character kid. She's Hannah. As I call her, Magic Murphy, ruled the day again."
Murphy first tally happened almost by accident. With the Dragons (13-1-1) on an early power play, Murphy floated out from behind the Falmouth (11-1-1) net looking for a teammate to pass to. Finding no one, she elected instead to shoot and stuck a hard wrist shot over the shoulder of Clippers goalie Maddie Scavotto and under the crossbar for the game's first score at 4:39.
Just under three minutes later, Murphy used the back of the net to her advantage once again, this time trying a backhanded wraparound. Scavotto made the initial stop but Marissa Fichter swooped in and buried the rebound. Murphy proceeded to win the ensuing faceoff, walked and in and drilled home her second goal as Duxbury grabbed a quick 3-0 lead.
"I was kind of low so I was trying to walk out. It was weird," Murphy said of her first goal. "I was looking to the high D and I was like, they're not there and then I just saw that I had the good opening so I shot it."
On the next two, Murphy said, "I think we were pressuring hard and just kept pressuring. I saw an opening, tried to wrap it around and rebound, Marissa was right there. Ten seconds later, we were literally after every goal we were fired up. next goal, won it off the faceoff and went down."
Falmouth got one goal back in the second when Olivia Hough scored her first of the season on a backhander from the slot, but Duxbury shut them down from there and got one final tally in the third from Zoe Griffin.
FAST START WAS CRITICAL
When facing a goalie the caliber of Scavotto, who came into the game with a minute goals against average of 0.83 and made 28 stops to shut out Duxbury in their last meeting, starting strong was a must.
Normally a team that builds momentum throughout a game, the Dragons came out breathing fire from the time they got off the team bus and the effort was rewarded with the three early markers.
"It's always important to start fast and I really think the girls were buzzing, they were moving around, they were communicating, all of the things that we had worked on," Weiler explained. "When you play a team like Falmouth you've got to maximize your chances and I think we did a good job. High energy, lot of movement around and just continued to keep pressure and pressure and pressure. Lot of shots. If you keep shooting, hopefully eventually they go in right, right?"
PENALTY KILLING 101
The Dragons were whistled for an uncharacteristic 10 penalties in the game, resulting in eight Falmouth power plays. That pressure on the Dragons shorthanded unit but that group - Murphy, Griffin, Liz Collins, Jacqui Nolan, Payton Donato and Carly Campbell - all participated in a sterling performance to keep the Clippers from breaking through at all.
"That was a tough obstacle to climb but the girls rebounded, they worked hard, and they continued to be intense," Weiler said. "They kept the pressure up and they continued to dig down deep in spite of what was going on out there."
In the third, Falmouth displayed much better puck control and did a better job of keeping the puck in the Dragons end, but when all else failed, Rachel Myette (17 saves) was there to make the stops.
"It was definitely a lot of pressure that was put on us but our defensemen were skating up to me saying, 'This is our job, we love playing like this.' It's five on three and they're like, 'Let's go, this is our favorite part of the game' and I'm just like, 'Yeah, keep it up.'"
POSITIVES FOR FALMOUTH
The Clippers have been dealing with a key injury to top forward Madison Haberl, who has missed several games, and lost Maggie MacDonald early on in last night's contest. That forces other players to step up, and the Clippers got several key contributions that will allow coach Erin Hunt to walk away with some things to feel good about going forward.
"Looking positively, I think we had a lot of our players step up who haven't been getting a lot of ice time and they hung in there and they were competitive and thats great for our team," Hunt explained. "Olivia Hough scored the first goal of the season for her and it was a great goal. I mean, we can play and pass in the neutral zone but usually our goals are the hard working kind and that's what she did. Kelly [Ferreira] was there, too, and they just worked hard in front of the net and those are the goals that we like."
"Emily Sanidas is playing center, she's a freshman, shes backchecking hard, she's all over the place and she's picking up the defensive zone systems," Hunt added. "And we had Casey Eustis a senior...she was a goalie last year, started as a defenseman this year and then we bumped her up to forward with the injuries. She played wing tonight and did a phenomenal job keeping the pucks on the wall and getting them in deep. I think we've got a great team and I'm really happy that they were able to get in and contribute."