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Saturday, February 18, 2012
Recap: No. 1 Duxbury 2, No. 3 St. Mary's 2

By Bruce Lerch

KINGSTON, Mass. -- St. Mary's goalie Lauren Skinnion and Duxbury goalie Rachel Myette have several things in common. Chief among them are the fact that they are both sophomores, and they are both huge reasons for the respective success of their teams.

In Saturday's showdown between the two squads, both considered among the state's elite, Skinnion made 28 saves while Myette stopped 17, including two critical saves with the Green Dragons killing off a penalty in the final two minutes, as as top-ranked Duxbury and No. 3 St. Mary's skated to a 2-2 draw at The Bog.

Skinnion, in her first year as the Spartans (15-3-1) starter, was particularly brilliant in the second period. She stopped 19 of 21 shots in the frame, including a fantastic save on a breakaway bid by Duxbury's Marissa Fitcher and another on Fitcher attempting a backhander while sweeping through the Spartans crease.

"She seems to be playing better against the best competition and that's a good thing going into the tournament," praised St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca. "She's more relaxed. Her rebound control was phenomenal tonight. She made a lot of key saves for us, especially in the second period. Lauren really kept us in the game and gave us a chance to battle back."

Added Skinnion, "They had a lot of shots, but my D does a good job of clearing the front of the net. I was just focusing on one shot at a time and not getting overwhelmed or panicking. We count on each other to get it done."

Myette made a couple of key stops in the second as well, but saved her best for for the final two minutes of the game. With the Dragons killing a late penalty, St. Mary's forward Brittani Lanzilli found herself with a great chance trying to jam the puck through off the post that Myette was able to get to and cover.

Thirty seconds later, Myette made a stop and watched the rebound squirt out to Gina Beth Manganiello, who looked ready to tee up a possible game-winner. Myette hurried from right to left, getting to the post in the nick of time to stop Manganiello's bid and cover up the puck.

"I just felt that we could pull it off and as long as we didn't give up any passes or have any letdowns in that we could kill the penalty and try to get another goal," Myette explained. "[On the Manganiello bid] I made the initial stop and it was just sitting there and I saw her go for it so I slid over and tried my best to keep it out of the net hoping they wouldnt score."

Both goalies displayed quick glove hands in the first to keep things scoreless, but Duxbury finally broke through early in the second as Hannah Murphy fired a wrist shot from the right wing circle past Skinnion to the far side of the net.

Back to back penalties by the Spartans allowed the Dragons to cash in again as Jane Dudley tipped home a Martha Findley drive from the point or a power play goal at 11:46.

As the momentum was all going Duxbury's way, Kaleigh Finigan got St. Mary's right back in it, converting a one-timer with assists from Manganiello and Alison Butler in the final minute of the frame.

Then, in the third, Gabrielle Crugnale poucned on a Duxbury defenseman struggling to control a puck at the blue line, poked it forward, witched to her backhand and scored a beautiful goal to tie the game at 2-2.

"We stress angling and staring on the forecheck," Pagliuca said. "Gabrielle did a wonderful job of that and had the composure to go back to her backhand and Im very proud of her for finishing that opportunity. It was a great job by her to be the first one on the forecheck and to take a good angle at the puck and force the defenseman to try and play the puck. She ended up deflecting it and walked in on the goalie and made a great move for the game-tying goal."