Boston High School: Meredith Wright

D1 girls semifinal: Duxbury 3, A-B 0

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
STONEHAM, Mass. -- Dynasty is a term often considered over-used in sport. Many programs speak it but few are able to sustain it over a long period of time.

The Duxbury girls’ hockey team does not talk in such rhetoric, preferring to do their talking out on the ice. However, if the Dragons are able to win next Sunday, it will be hard not to link this program and dynasty together.

Sunday night, Duxbury made surprisingly easy work of Acton-Boxborough in the Division 1 semfinals, shutting the Colonials out 3-0 at Stoneham Arena.

With the victory, the sixth-seeded Dragons (17-1-6) now sit on the threshold of capturing their fourth consecutive state crown. They will face No. 3 Arlington Catholic (19-2-2) in the final Sunday at TD Garden at a time to be determined.

Duxbury has won the Division 2 state title the last three seasons before moving up to Division 1 status this season. The transition to a higher level never seemed to phase the Dragons, unanimously believing they had the talent and muscle to compete with team at any level.

Against No. 1 seed A-B, they certainly proved it.

After allowing the Colonials (21-3-0) to dictate the tempo during the early stages of this one, Duxbury turned on the after-jets midway through the opening period and never looked back.

Whether it be nerves or A-B coming out full-throttle to start, the Dragons would eventually settle back into their style of fast-break offense, unselfish passing and tight, physical defense to turn this contest in their favor.

Duxbury forward Jane Dudley put her team on the board at 9:53 of the first. Following a scrum inside the Colonials' crease, Dudley was able to find the loose puck and shoot it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, the Dragons were on the attack again. With Dudley leading a 2-on-1 break from just outside the blue line, her shot caromed off of A-B goaltender Cali Loblundo and onto the stick of Payton Donato, who was streaking down the right side. The sophomore flipped the puck past Loblundo to give the Dragons a two-goal advantage from which the Colonials would never recover.

"I don't think we played well at all tonight," said A-B head coach Brian Fontas. "It's disappointing being the No. 1 seed to go out like this. I'm not taking anything away from Duxbury because they're an excellent team. Bottom line is they know what it takes to get to the Garden. That's why they're going back for a fourth straight year.

“We didn't have a lot of puck luck tonight and sometimes you need that. Duxbury wanted this a little more than we did and got the win as a result. They do every single, little thing right. Their special teams are excellent and their penalty kills are excellent. That team just works extremely hard. They thrive off of work-ethic."

For the remainder of the tilt, the Colonials did manage to step up their play at both ends of the ice some. Duxbury was still getting its share of quality looks on Loblundo (22 saves), but the sophomore stood poised, swatting them away. But for a team that came in having scored 110 goals, A-B's offense had great difficulty setting up shots once inside the Dragons zone.

Duxbury's defense, along with its forwards moving up, put forth a joint effort to keep most of the Colonials shots from the perimeter. Several A-B chances never even reached goalie Rachel Myette (18 saves), as the Dragons were sacrificing their bodies to deflect shots off their intended mark.

"Our defensive play from everybody was really solid," Dragons head coach Friend Weiler said. "We were rotating all six of our defensemen out there. We didn't want to give (A-B) any room to be creative and go hard to the net. We wanted to keep them outside and I think we did that very well for most of the game. Rachel always seems to play the biggest on the biggest stage. She keeps everything calm back there and is the best goalie in the state as far as I'm concerned. At times I thought (A-B) got real physical but our girls showed they were up to the task against that tonight."

After a scoreless second period, the Colonials played like a desperate team over the final 15 minutes. They did start to create a little spacing and were shooting at will every time they stepped over the opposing blue line in an effort to draw even.

But the script never wavered. The Dragons refused to allow A-B to seize any momentum to climb back into this affair as they continued to block shots out in front and knocked the Colonials off of their respective routes with a mix of back- and fore-checking to keep them at bay.

"We're a third period team so we felt it would be key for us to get an early jump on them which we did,'' said Dudley, a junior. "We knew [A-B] has scored on everybody this year so we just made sure we played defensive-minded the whole game. It was defense first tonight. Going into the third, because we have played so well in the third period all year, we knew they weren't going to score two goals against us."

Adding to an already frustrating evening for the Colonials, junior Meredith Wright scored an empty-net goal at 14:11 to account for Duxbury's three-goal margin of victory.

Recap: No. 2 Duxbury 1, No. 10 Hingham 0

December, 31, 2013

BOSTON – Dragon junior goaltender Rachel Myette accomplished something on Tuesday afternoon that no other goaltender ever has; shut out an opponent at both Fenway Park and the TD Garden.

Her Garden shutout, of course, came last March when she shut out Falmouth in the Division 2 state championship game. On Tuesday, she turned seven shots at a frigid Fenway Park in a game that Myette and her teammates won’t soon forget.

“It just feels amazing, with my team in front of me I can always trust them and I halways have their back if they make a mistake,” said Myette. “I’ve had a shutout at the Garden and now one at Fenway, so I’m sure not a lot of people can say that.”

Duxbury got the game’s lone goal 9:10 into the first period on a goal from Jane Dudley. Hingham goalie Taylor Walsh made a beautiful save on the initial shot from Meredith Wright, but the puck ricocheted back to Dudley who ripped a shot from inside the right circle for her first goal of the season. Liz Collins was also credited with an assist.

“She was terrific out there,” said Duxbury coach Friend Weiler of Dudley. “I thought she was moving well out there so it was a perfect place for her to notch her first one.”

Hingham came out strong in the opening period, controlling the puck and taking advantage of time on attack early. But the Dragons settled their nerves and dominated the rest of the period, outshooting the Harborwomen, 7-2, in the first.

The combination of Dudley and Marissa Fichter were a big reason why. Wherever the puck was, one of the two was always nearby. Their speed to attack the puck-carrier and the ability to get away was something that Hingham couldn’t match.

Experience of a lifetime: Neither team will forget their game at Fenway anytime soon. The MIAA got three games at Fenway this year and to be selected to play, both teams were honored.

“This is once in a life time,” said Weiler. “The smiles of their faces, that’s what keeps me coming to the rink anyways but today they were a little bit brighter and wider and a great experience for everybody. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Just a terrific day.”

It took a little but longer for Duxbury to settle into the game with a tougher playing surface that what they are used to, but once they figured it out, Duxbury never looked back.

“First five minutes it took us to get used to the ice surface,” said Dudley. “It’s a little different, it’s a little brittle. But after the first five minutes we started to really get into our game.”

The Dragons are no strangers to playing on the big stage. Three years in a row, they have played at the Garden. From last year, there are only two new players to this team, so adjusting to the big stage is no stranger to them.

“It kind of like the Garden, where most of the team has experience in a special venue,” said Myette.

Relying on Myette: The Dragons didn’t have to depend too much on their senior goaltender, but she came up with the big saves when needed.

Hingham’s Catherine Linehan had had a three-on-one opportunity and a semi-breakaway but both times her efforts were thwarted by Myette.

“Perfect place again to get the first shutout of the year but she’s a stall work back there,” said Weiler. “We depend on her a lot and build out from the net.”

Myette also can rely upon her teammate to help her out. That was shown by them only giving up seven shots, which mostly came in the beginning of the opening period.

“With my team in front of me I can always trust them and I always have their back if they make a mistake,” said Myette.

It turns out she can trust them. When a loose puck was in the neutral zone, the Dragons were quick to take possession and never let a scoring chance occur for the Harborwomen.

“We tried to keep them to the outside, and I thought we were successful doing that,” said Weiler. “But against a strong team that can breakaway at any time I thought our girls really worked on the one-on-one battles and won a lot of pucks in the neutral zone.”

MIAA championship hockey picks

March, 16, 2013
No. 1 Duxbury (21-1-2) vs. No. 2 Falmouth (19-1-2), 11 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Duxbury – F Hannah Murphy, F Marissa Fichter, F Jane Dudley, F Meredith Wright, F Julia Nolan, D Ally Hammel, D Payton Donato, G Rachel Myette; Falmouth – F Alexa Scribner, F Rachel Moore, F Madison Haberl, F Kelly Ferreira, D Hannah Ghelfi, D Alexx Good, G Madison Scavotto.

Breakdown: It is perhaps the most predictable of all of Sunday’s matchups and the most anticipated. The Dragons and Clippers renew a burgeoning rivalry, intensified by last year’s duel at the Garden and invigorated by the fact that either team’s lone loss of the season was handed to them by the other. Duxbury has been playing lockdown defense throughout the playoffs and haven’t allowed a goal in more than six games, including the regular season. The Clippers’ young corps will look to get over the hump, building on a bittersweet experience on the Bruins’ home ice sheet one year ago.

X-factor: Scavotto. As dominant as Duxbury’s defense has been in front of and including Myette, the Clippers are capable of the same. And their sophomore netminder is a big reason why. She could steal one.

Pick: Duxbury, 1-0.

No. 4 St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-3-4) vs. No. 7 Arlington Catholic (17-4-2), 9 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: St. Mary’s – F Alison Butler, F Kaleigh Finigan, F Gabby Crugnale, F Madison Molea, D Tatiana Doucette, D Amanda Donahoe, G Lauren Skinnion; AC – F Adrieanna Rossini, F Jess Piracini, F Duggan Delano, F Hayle Rudin, D Melissa Richard, G Megan Messuri.

Breakdown: The Catholic Central rivals meet for the second straight year on championship Sunday and, like their Div. 2 counterparts, also split their season series at a game apiece. Behind the benches, both the Spatans’ Frank Pagliuca and the Cougars’ Maggie Taverna have done work worthy of Coach of the Year honors. St. Mary’s has the feel of a team of destiny, neither a short bench nor nagging injuries all season long have kept the Spartans from returning to the biggest stage, all while dispatching No. 1 Woburn in the process.

X-factor: Rossini. You’d be hard pressed to find a young player in recent memory who has scored more clutch playoff goals than the AC sophomore.

Pick: St. Mary’s, 3-2.

Swampscott (19-5-0) vs. Westfield (18-3-2), 3:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Swampscott – F Corey Carmody, F Noah Maercklein, F Nunzio Morretti, D Chris Carman, D Trevor Massey; Westfield – F Sean Spohr, F Mike Santinello, F Anthony Cagliostro, F Adam Collier, F Neil Parrow, D Nate Barnes.

Breakdown: The Big Blue took down defending D3 finalist and South sectional champion Medway (thanks to an OT goal from Maercklein) to advance to the program’s first title game appearance. Westfield returns to the Garden ice after a one-year hiatus after taking a scorched-earth policy to Western Mass. competition, while averaging more than 5.5 goals per game.

X-factor: Swampscott freshman goaltender Tristan Bradley. The first-year backstop has been a key element to the Big Blue’s success, maintaining a 91.5 save percentage through the season.

Pick: Swampscott, 5-4.

Wilmington (20-3-2) vs. Franklin (17-7-2), 1:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Wilmington – F Cam Owens, F Brendan McDonough, F Jake Rogers, F Dylan DiNatale, D Brian Pickett, D Cam Collins, G Drew Foley; Franklin – F Cam Curley, F Dennis Pisani, F Aidan Isberg, F Troy Donahue, D Kyle Powers, D Kyle Filbert, G Devon Maloof.

Breakdown: The third of six rematches on the day, after the Wildcats claimed a 3-2 victory over Franklin a year ago on championship Sunday, propelled by a hat trick from Owens. The Panthers will be looking to avoid their third straight fruitless trip to the Garden, having dropped title tilts with Wilmington and Tewksbury. The Wildcats, who had Super 8 aspirations until late in the season, are eying their second straight title.

X-factor: McDonough. He’s been the break-out performer of the tournament and provides a great complement to Owens on Wilmington’s top line.

Pick: Wilmington, 3-2.

Burlington (13-6-5) vs. Marshfield (20-6-0), 8:15 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Burlington – F C.J. Grinnell, F Joe Berardi, F Joey Scali, D Adam Crowley, D Sean Costa, G Derek DeCastro; Marshfield – F Mike Carbone, F Pat Burchill, F Joe Admirand, F Pat Shea, D Matt Burchill, D Trevor Salmon.

Breakdown: While this isn’t another rematch, these teams are no strangers to this stage, with the Red Devils and Rams representing as the last two Div. 1 state champions. Both teams were near .500 squads through the first month of the season, and closed their regular-season slates with momentum they’ve carried over into the playoffs. Both these teams can skate with the best of them, but they also pay attention to the little things in the defensive zone as well.

X-factor: Crowley. I’d expect a defensive struggle in this one and so I’m going with the Red Devils’ blue-liner who always makes his presence felt.

Pick: Burlington, 3-1.

No. 4 Austin Prep (16-1-6) vs. No. 7 Malden Catholic (15-6-3), 6 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: AP – F Nolan Vesey, F Bobby Carpenter, F Frankie Candelino, F George Sennott, F Eric MacAdams, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; MC – F Ara Nazarian, F Mike Iovanna, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Pat Wrenn, F Austin Goldstein, D Casey Fitzgerald, D Nick Rolli, G Connor Maloney.

Breakdown: AP, while short on years, is not short on talent. I think we all knew coming into this season that they were capable of reaching this stage, but it might have been a question of when. The Cougars earned their way to Sunday after dispatching town rival Reading and then No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep in Wednesday’s semifinal. It seems like years ago since there was a time when the Lancers were in jeopardy of missing the tournament all together, but they’ve played the best hockey in the state during the last month.

X-factor: Nazarian. It’s his tournament, the rest of us are just living in it.

Pick: Malden Catholic, 4-2.

D2 girls: Duxbury 8, Tewksbury/Methuen 0

March, 10, 2013

BOURNE, Mass. -- At least one team will be wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day on the ice at the TD Garden, and they won’t be there because they got lucky. The top-seeded Duxbury Dragons earned their third consecutive trip to the Division 2 state championship game, where they will be looking to capture their third pot of gold in a row, after pounding upstart Tewksbury/Methuen, 8-0, at Gallo Ice Arena Saturday.

Duxbury’s game plan was to get out fast and quick, and never let up. They did that quite effectively.

“We wanted to stay aggressive, just really attack, attack. I felt that our depth was really going to carry the day and the girls came out with high energy,” Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler said.

It was evident early on that the Dragons (21-1-2) were simply on a higher plane than the Red Rangers and that depth that Weiler spoke of was on display from the outset. Payton Donato, Jacqui Nolan and Liz Collins each scored twice for the Dragons, and Hannah Murphy assisted on three scores, giving her 50 points (27 goals, 23 assists) for the year.

Duxbury scored four times in the first period and cruised from there, adding a pair of goals in the subsequent frames. Duxbury’s first came at 5:22 of the first on a goal by Nolan, who tipped in a slapper by Donato for an early power play goal. Three minutes later, at 8:54, Donato got her first of the day when she unloaded from the left point and it hit a stick on the way, averting the pads of Taylor Lirakis.

The Gallo PA man hadn’t finished announcing Duxbury’s second goal before the third one was hung on the scoreboard. Marissa Fichter put home a nice feed from Murphy to the far post. Closing out the lopsided first period was Collins’ first of two, a blast from the perimeter that hit Lirakis’ shoulder, went high into the air and landed behind her, in the net.

From that point, it was just a matter of getting to the final whistle for the Dragons. Duxbury outshot the Red Rangers, 48-11, in the game and bottled up the Red Rangers’ top weapon, Amanda Conway. The state’s top goal-scorer, who had 52 markers coming into the night, was held to just three shots on goal in the game, and had no serious scoring bids against Duxbury’s Rachel Myette.

Myette kept the Dragons’ run of shut-out hockey going. Duxbury has not been scored upon in the state tournament, and last gave up a goal on Feb. 16. Myette had a rather easy go of it as she earned her eighth shutout of the season, and fifth straight.

“It’s about trying to take away the middle, and that’s what we want to continue to do,” Weiler said. “My defensive core has played really tough all throughout the season and they’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along. It’s just hard work, and focus, and puck protection, that’s the key. The girls were ready to go today, they had high energy, and that’s what you’re looking for, to be peaking at the right time.”

In the second period, Duxbury added goals Nos. 5 and 6. They came off the sticks of Donato and Nolan, during the middle of the frame. In the third, the Dragons’ Collins and Meredith Wright rounded out the shellacking.

Recap: Duxbury 4, St. Mary's (Lynn) 1

December, 13, 2012
LYNN, Mass. -- One thing hockey fans can expect to see a lot of when the Duxbury girls take the ice is pressure. In heavy doses.

That pressure came last night in the form of a relentless forecheck, which in turn created scoring chances that the Dragons were able to cash in on. Ally Hammel and Meredith Wright each had a goal and assist and Rachel Myette stopped 16 shots to help Duxbury take a 4-1 victory over St. Mary's at Connery Rink Wednesday night.

Despite a roster featuring just two seniors and four juniors, the Dragons (2-0) are as deep and talented a team as you'll find in Massachusetts. And every one of those girls that hops over the boards has one thing in mind for her shift - attack.

"Our gameplan going in was to put the pressure on them, get that wave after wave of attackers coming in and force them in the neutral zone and make them make the tough pass and continue to have the support to go in there as the second girl in," said Duxbury coach Friend Weiler. "They are such a strong, explosive team and we wanted to make sure we kind of put them back on their heels and not let them get it started."

In addition to pressure, Weiler wants his team to put bodies around opposing creases. That activity led directly to the Dragons first goal as Hammel stuck a shot from the left point through traffic with 3:16 to play in the first period.

Duxbury increased its lead to 3-0 early in the second as Hannah Murphy and Wright scored within 46 seconds of one another. The Dragons second power play chance resulted in another score as Jacqui Nolan won a faceoff back to younger sister Julia for a hard shot that found the back of the net.

"It's about going to the net, fundamental hockey," Weiler said. "Against a great team like St. Mary's, you can't afford to make mental errors and I just wanted the girls to stay sharp and have a high-energy, high-tempo game and try to keep up with them. And they were able to do that by going hard to the net and converting when we needed to."

St. Mary's (1-1) got one back as Gabby Crugnale got loose for breakaway and fired one past Myette at 9:39 of the second, a goal that seemed to shift the momentum of the game. The Spartans became the team applying the pressure, while Duxbury was forced to sit back and play defense.

Myette turned in a strong final frame, however, and the Dragons killed off four penalties from the end of the second through the third to take the win.

The quarter of Hammel, Jacqui Nolan, Liz Collins and Payton Donato took the lead role on Duxbury's shorthanded unit and performed beyond admirably. Faced with the prospect of defending dominant offensive talents such as Alison Butler and Kaleigh Finigan, the Dragons managed to hold St. Mary's scoreless on all five power play opportunities they drew.

"I have a lot of faith in my penalty-kill," praised Weiler. "They do a great job of staying aggressive and not giving them room to move or room to pass. They're taking away passing lanes and really keeping the pressure on. You don't want to get back in a defensive shell. You want to maintain that high intensity, the high pressure, and put it back on them."

Despite the final outcome, there were certainly plenty of positives for St. Mary's to take away. First and foremost, they know they won't likely face another team with the speed, talent and intensity of Duxbury.

The Spartans never quit, and even after falling into a 4-0 hole they actually took control of the tempo. Scoring chances were there and, while being a little snake-bit at times in this one, the finishing touch will come because the talent is there.

"At times I thought we did a good job of puck pursuit, getting on the puck quick and forcing them to turn the puck over, which is all positive," St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca said. "Even though we got down 4-0, the kids kept fighting back and Gabby had a great goal there to get us back in the game."

"The last five minutes of the second period I thought we did a good job of getting on them and pressuring them and we had opportunities, we just didn't finish them. But that's the way hockey is sometimes."

10 (or so) hockey underclassmen to watch

March, 28, 2012
As we wrap up the season that was in MIAA hockey, we take look ahead to next season with 10 (or so) players to watch in the 2012-13 season.

This list is comprised of underclassmen players we saw this season who we thought warranted a little extra attention and who might not be known to all, but who all could steal the stage in the coming years.

1. Tom Besinger, Soph. F, BC High – For what the winger might lack in stature, he makes up for in speed and grit. Although he often gives up size to defensemen, Besinger is fearless in the corners. With a 14-goal, 18-assist output on the season, he could be in for bigger numbers in his junior year with the Eagles.

2. Ara Nazarian, Frosh. F, Malden Catholic – You could make that case that the Lancers’ first-year center was the most consistent player in the Super 8 tournament with five points and more than a couple timely goals. Nazarian figures to be the next in a line of Division 1 prospects to come through the Lancers’ pipeline with a blend of speed and crafty stickwork.

3. Casey Fitzgerald, Frosh. F, Malden Catholic – Speaking of the Lancers’ front-line talent, the first-year blue-liner might have been the best in the state as a freshman. Where his talent can carry him during the next three years is stunning to think. Already a terrific skater, the younger Fitzgerald only scratched the surface with his 2-15-17 totals in 2011-12.

4. Matt Brazel, Soph. F, Hingham – The Harbormen defied a lot of folks’ expectations this season, including us, making yet another Super 8 appearance as a top-six seed. This talented sophomore, along with Sam D’Antuono (9-19-28), will pack a punch for Hingham as long as they don the sweater. Plus, Brazel’s quickly turned himself into one of the top draw-men in the state, as evidenced during the Super 8 tournament.

5. John Carlson, Soph. D, Hingham – The Harbormen blue-liner plays a bit like his Washington Capitals’ namesake, as a rugged physical presence who’s also able to make tape-to-tape breakout passes consistently. Carlson put up 2-10-12 totals last season and was named to the MSHCA Sophomore/Junior all-star team.

6. Dan Eruzione, Soph. F, Winthrop – Eruzione was a driving force behind the Vikings’ Div. 2 North finals appearance and was part of one of the state’s most feared scoring duos along with Chris LeBlanc. He scored 15 goals with 24 assists for 39 points on the season.

7. Mike Donadio, Soph. G, Franklin – A big reason why the Panthers made a repeat appearance at the Garden in the Div. 2 state championship game. The netminder posted a 1.64 goals against average and an 89.9 save percentage in his first year as starter.

8. Adrieana Rossini, Frosh. F, Arlington Catholic – The freshman provided a nice scoring complement to senior Natalie Flynn, scoring eight goals along with 14 assists. Rossini loomed large in the Cougars’ Division 1 state championship run, with a goal in the final versus St. Mary’s of Lynn and potting the game-winner in overtime during the Cougars’ semi-final win over Braintree.

9. Marissa Fichter, Frosh. F, Duxbury – Fichter’s play throughout the Division 2 tournament might have been one of the biggest surprises of the postseason. She posted 13-13-26 totals on the season while skating along with fellow first-year players Jane Dudley and Meredith Wright, meaning the Dragons will be set offensively for years to come — not to mention that netminder Rachel Myette is just a sophomore as well.

10. The Falmouth Youth Movement – We couldn’t really pick just one over the others, but the point remains that the Lady Clippers, like the aforementioned Dragons who they met at the Garden, will stay strong. With first-year head coach Erin Blood leading the way, it starts in nets with freshman Maddie Scavotto (1.35 GAA). Freshmen Madison Haberl (12-12-24), Kelly Ferreira (14-10-24) and Rachel Moore (11-5-16), along with sophomore Alexa Scribner (8-4-12) will hold down the scoring while Hannah Ghelfi (1-6-7), Callan Small (0-4-4) and Kendall Stouffer (0-9-9) provide as good a young blue-line you will find in the state.

D2 Girls: Duxbury 3, Belmont 1

March, 11, 2012

BOURNE, Mass. -- The Dragons had a little extra swagger in their step.

Even before they took to the ice for their Division 2 state semifinal against Belmont at Gallo Ice Arena Saturday night, the defending state champions from Duxbury were dancing along the music being played over the P.A.

The Dragons kept up their intensity throughout their 3-1 win over the Marauders. But afterward, Duxbury’s raucous room was also matched with a sense of purpose, given that the team’s stated goal has yet to be achieved.

Senior captain and defenseman Martha Findley exclaimed postgame, “It’s Round Two.”

It was all in another day at the office for perhaps the state’s best girls’ hockey team, who fended off a strong fifth-seeded Belmont squad.

“They play a high intensity game and I wanted to fight fire with fire,” Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler said. “They were all fired up in the locker room, I could barely contain them.”

The Dragons’ ebullience poured over into the first period when Duxbury (21-0-1) taking the first lead of the game midway through the session on freshman Marissa Fichter’s tally. Meredith Wright and Caroline Shaughnessy added assists on the play, in addition to Wright’s other contributions down low.

“The goalie was screened by my other linemates [Wright and Jane Dudley], and I just got a good shot off,” Fichter said.

Duxbury continued to dictate the pace of play in the second period, outshooting the Marauders (16-5-2), 9-3.

Despite several high quality saves from Belmont netminder Megan Foley (19 saves), the Dragons broke through for their second goal midway through the second with a dazzling individual effort from Findley.

Pinching up in the play, Findley collected the puck below the left wing faceoff dot, swooped behind the Belmont cage, moved around a Marauder defender, skated out front and then cut back in the other direction to finish with a fore-handed shot Foley, nor any other goaltender in the state could stop.

The play was set in motion by Findley’s anticipation on the play, knowing Belmont’s defensive tendencies.

“They like to slide into the middle and so we knew we’d have our chances along the boards,” Findley said.

Hannah Murphy turned in an impressive drive of her own, pacing Duxbury to a 3-0 lead at 6:17 of the third.

After serving a hooking penalty, Murphy stormed out of the box to collect a loose puck in the neutral zone. The junior forward made a beeline in on Foley, cutting across the slot from right to left before finishing on the backhand.

Belmont showed its resiliency, turning up the offensive zone pressure in the latter stages of the third. The Marauders finally broke through with four minutes to play as Caroline McCarthy threw in a wrister off of the stick handle of goaltender Rachel Myette.

“We knew we needed that knockout punch and we got that,” Weiler said of Murphy’s strike. “But they still kept coming. That’s an excellent team, they worked hard and they kept coming.”

Findley, an ESPN Boston All-State selection last year and preseason teamer this winter, has been nothing short of spectacular this season. And her second-period highlight reel goal was nothing short of brilliant.

It’s all what Weiler has come to expect out of his top blue-liner.

“She’s the best defenseman in the state as far as I’m concerned.”


Duxbury’s “Freshmen” line, comprised of Dudley, Fichter and Wright, continued its strong play against Belmont with Fichter again adding some goal-scoring punch.

“She has that quick release, the goalie can’t get set,” Weiler said of Fichter’s wrister. “She burned a lot of goalies all season doing that.”

And while the Dragons are no strangers to the postseason’s biggest stage, making two straight appearances, it's not too hard to envision the Dragons making future visits with seven freshman on the roster.

“The way they’ve stepped in [this season], I’m so proud of them.”

Duxbury advances to play Falmouth in Sunday’s state championship game at the Garden.

The two teams met twice in the regular season with the Dragons taking both decisions by 4-0 and 3-2 scores.

Recap: No. 1 Duxbury 4, No. 4 Hingham 1

February, 24, 2012

ROCKLAND, Mass. -- No. 1 Duxbury girls’ hockey finished off an unbeaten regular-season campaign with their second win over South Shore rival Hingham in as many weeks on Thursday.

The Dragons wore down the Harborwomen in the third period to earn a 4-1 victory in the championship game of Notre Dame’s Cougar Classic Tournament.

But as soon as Dragons head coach Friend Weiler was asked about his team’s 18-0-1 record, the only team to finish with an undefeated record this season, he had a point to make.

“We don’t use the U-word,” he said.

While the defending Division 2 state champions look to embark on another run to the Garden, the Dragons have plenty for which to be proud. In the last week, Duxbury has strengthened its claim on the top spot in the ESPN Boston Top 25 poll. Gaining two wins over No. 4 Hingham and skating to a tie with No. 3 St. Mary’s of Lynn, the Dragons showed they can go toe to toe with any team in the state, regardless of division.

“I’m so proud of them,” Weiler added. “We set a lot of goals at the beginning of the season, and one of them is still out there [a state championship], but they’ve done everything we’ve asked.”

Duxbury jumped out to a 1-0 first-period lead on a wicked wrist shot from freshman winger Marissa Fichter.

Hingham picked up its offensive forecheck in the second period as they started to crack Duxbury’s steady defensive front. But the Harborwomen were unable to solve Dragons netminder Rachel Myette until Jane Freda’s goal (her 28th of the season) at 1:22 of the third.

Yet, as the third wore on, Duxbury’s ability to roll three lines caught up with Hingham.

Junior captain Hannah Murphy notched the go-ahead goal at 5:57 of the third. Carly Campbell and Jacqui Nolan (PP goal) added insurance markers later in the period.

A couple of things stand out when watching Duxbury. First, it's that the Dragons are a well-disciplined in their defensive scheme for the most part and that starts with their top four defensemen: senior Martha Findley, junior Carly Campbell and sophomore Caroline Shaughnessy and Ally Hammel.

Like their counterparts in Hingham, Duxbury also has a relatively young squad. And they're good, as evidence by Weiler's all-freshman line of Jane Dudley, Meredith Wright and Fichter, who consistently generated quality scoring chances.

“All three freshmen have really worked hard," Weiler said. "They work hard and they really love the game of hockey, and it shows.”

It's a combination that means the Dragons are not only on top of their game now, but will be for the years to come.

The sight was a little confusing if you don’t the know the story.

Standing in one corner of the Rockland Arena was John Findley, Hingham assistant coach and twin brother of head coach, Tom. John was wearing his team-issue Hingham coat. Underneath, the Harbormen logo was a big button. A Duxbury green No. 16 was printed on it. Every Hingham-Duxbury battle is a tough day for the Harborwomen assistant and father of Dragons’ top defeseman, Martha.

“It’s talking [hockey] strategy and stuff,” is how Martha described typical dinner table chit-chat in the Findley household.

Yet, the rink is where the rivalry ends.

After Tom Findley finished speaking to reporters, Martha walked down the hall, stick in hand.

“I had to give you a hug before I go,” she said to her uncle.

“Nice job today,” he replied, giving her a couple extra taps on the back.

Recap: No. 1 Duxbury 3, No. 4 Hingham 0

February, 15, 2012
HINGHAM, Mass. -- Midway through the third period of Wednesday's showdown between reigning girls hockey state champions Duxbury (Div. 2) and Hingham (Div. 1), the mask of Green Dragons goalie Rachel Myette got tangled up with the stick of Hingham’s Emily Falvey and came flying off.

That moment served as a microcosm of how often Myette, along with her defensive teammates, were sticking their noses into the action.

Playing behind a sterling performance from Duxbury’s defensive quartet of Martha Findley, Ally Hammel, Caroline Shaunessy and Carly Campbell, Myette stopped 26 shots to help the top-ranked Dragons claim a 3-0 shutout over the No. 4 Harborwomen at Pilgrim Arena.

‘When she needs to make the easy saves she makes them but she always has the ten-bell in her pocket and gives us confidence,” Duxbury coach Friend Weiler said in praise of Myette. “Game in and game out, we know that if one of them squirts free, I’ll put her up against the best any day. She’s just a real strong, solid kid back there with a great attitude. Works hard all the time, always has a smile on her face, but just a solid goaltender and thats what we built our team around.”

Facing an explosive Hingham (12-5-1) offense that recently found its scoring touch (29 goals in its last five games), Duxbury (16-0-0) knew it would have to rely heavily on Myette and its blue line corps.

The task of guarding Hingham’s dangerous first line of Jane Freda, Sarah Schwenzfeier and Catherine Linehan fell to the defense, and the Dragons continually got their sticks on pucks, blocked several shots and forced the shooters into tough angled shots.

“We were watching out for Jane Freda and Sarah Schwenzfeier because we knew they were their top girls,” Martha Findley said. “We were just watching them to see what they would do. We were watching the other girls too but they were our main focus, to keep them away from shooting.”

Strong play from the D helped spring the Duxbury forwards, a talented group in their own right, for offensive chances. Hammel was the first to capitalize, sending a shot from the point through a maze of bodies to the far post to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the first period.

Early in the second, Shaunessy forced a turnover at her own blue line and got the puck to Meredith Wright, who delivered a beautiful pass to a streaking Hannah Murphy (two assists). Hingham goalie Taylor Walsh made the initial stop, but Jane Dudley was trailing the play and put home the rebound.

The effort on the blue line was critical because Hingham’s top duo of Alexandria Gong and Tori Messina turned in an equally strong performance in front of Walsh, who also played very well and stopped 23 shots.

The Harborwomen pulled Walsh with two minutes to go in the game looking to cut the deficit, but Myette made several clutch stops and Marissa Fitcher fired into the empty-net for Duxbury’s third tally with 11 seconds left.

Not long after Dudley’s goal, Duxbury gave Hingham a golden opportunity to get back in the game by taking three penalties over a seven-minute span. The Dragons shorthanded group of Findley, Shaunessy, Jacqui Nolan and Liz Collins - with some help from Hammel and forwards Murphy, Lily Connolly - held the Harborwomen to just four shots on the three power plays.

“It was a little uncharacteristic of us and we kind of got off our game a little bit,” said Weiler of the penalties. “Our penalty killers did a phenomenal job of just pinning them back and not giving them an inch when they were trying to come into the zone. I was happy with the way our special teams worked tonight.”

Added Findley, ““It was tough but our defensive box works very well. We know how to work around each other and we get it out and our goalie talks to us and helps us too.”

After winning the Div. 2 state title a year ago, Weiler wanted to make sure his team would be properly prepared at the end of the season to make a run at defending the crown.

Hingham is a natural opponent, given the close proximity of the two towns, the natural rivalry between the schools, and the family-style atmosphere that permeates the games between the two, best exemplified by the fact that Martha Findley’s father John and uncle Tom stand on the Hingham bench.

The Dragons will also take on perennial state power St. Mary’s this Saturday, and will wrap up the season with the Cougar Classic and the possibility of facing Hingham one more time before the tournament begins.

These are the two toughest opponents on Duxbury’s schedule, and they are on it to help get the Dragons used to playing this level of opponent in a playoff-like atmosphere.

“I wanted to keep the schedule back heavy, keep it really strong, knowing that going into the tournament, this is a playoff type atmosphere,” Weiler said. “That’s one of the things you can’t really replicate in practice. I like getting the wheels spinning against D1 teams. They’re all strong, well coached and deep. You have to beat the best to be the best as they always say.”