Boston High School: Payton Donato

Our preseason MIAA girls' hockey All-State team

December, 23, 2014
12/23/14
2:23
PM ET
Presenting our MIAA girls' hockey preseason All-State team:

1st Team
F – Emily Loprete, Sr., Watertown/Belmont
F – Ali O’Leary, Jr., Reading
F – Adrieana Rossini, Sr., Arlington Catholic
D – Jaimee Cooke, Jr., Austin Prep
D – Caroline Seibold, Jr., Reading
G – Caty Flagg, Jr., Austin Prep

2nd Team
F – Kelly Browne, Frosh., Burlington
F – Jess Pircacini, Sr., Arlington Catholic
F – Jane Dudley, Sr., Duxbury
D – Payton Donato, Jr., Duxbury
D – Sarah Goss, Sr., Wellesley
G – Maddie Scavotto, Sr., Falmouth

3rd Team
F – Leah Cardarelli, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
F – Amanda Conway, Sr., Tewksbury/Methuen
F – Sam Girard, Sr., Dedham
D – Alex Macrides, Soph., Acton-Boxborough
D – Kendall Stouffer, Sr., Falmouth
G – Olivia Sollows, Frosh., Barnstable

D1 girls semifinal: Duxbury 3, A-B 0

March, 9, 2014
3/09/14
10:09
PM ET
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.

MIAA championship hockey picks

March, 16, 2013
3/16/13
9:55
PM ET
GIRLS’ DIVISION 2
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.

GIRLS’ DIVISION 1
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.

BOYS’ DIVISION 3
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.

BOYS’ DIVISION 2
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.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1
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.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1A – SUPER 8
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
3/10/13
12:47
AM ET


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.

The 8: Duxbury, St. Mary's skate to tie

February, 20, 2013
2/20/13
12:29
AM ET


HINGHAM, Mass. -- With eight of the state's best girls hockey programs on display at The 8 Showcase at Pilgrim Arena, you had to expect at least a nailbiter or two. That game turned out to be the third of the day as No. 2 Duxbury and No. 5 St. Mary's battled to a scoreless draw.

At the end of regulation, a three-skater shootout was held for fun and the Dragons' Hannah Murphy scored the only goal.

The goaltending was nothing short of spectacular at both ends, necessarily so in the face of two of the state's most potent offenses. Spartans (15-3-3) junior Lauren Skinnion made 25 saves while her counterpart Rachel Myette stopped 16 shots in goal for Duxbury (16-1-2).

"Duxbury is a great team, they hustle a lot and they are really talented," Skinnion said. "For me, it's just focusing on one shot at a time and not worrying about what's going to happen next. Just focusing on what I have to do on each individual shot. My defense really stepped it up and played great. They were really aggressive and kept people away from and cleared pucks well."

Added Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler, "Rachel [Myette] is always there when we need here. She came up huge in the shootout, even though it didn't mean anything it's still good practice to get. She's nursing a few injuries, trying to get back healthy again and she's definitely a gamer. She stepped up big for us."

St. Mary's already thin roster took a couple of hits as first-line forwards Kaleigh Finigan (shoulder) and Sam Callahan (hamstring) were taken to the hospital with injuries. That forced Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca to do some juggling with his lines, but players such as Madison Molea, Jacqueline Murphy, Sarah Ryan and Kira Iaccoupucci filled in admirably.

Additionally, second line center Gabby Crugnale continued to look like the most improved player in the state. The senior has the talent to play up on the Spartans top unit, but instead serves as the lynchpin of the second line. She was one of the most notable players on the ice for either side at both ends, as well as on special teams.

"I'm proud of my kids, we battled hard today," Pagliuca said. "We had some kids step up. Obviously the depth is an issue when we lose two of our regular players but I was proud of our kids. I thought we played a really good game considering everything."

The Dragons also got key contributions from several spots aside from the usual standouts. Weiler praised freshman defenseman Payton Donato, who continues to look like a player to watch over the next few years, as well as top blue liner Ally Hammel. Sophomore Marissa Fichter also continues to gain tremendous strides, displaying incredible strength and skating ability while excelling in all facets of the game.

"She's a complete player," Weiler said of Fichter. "She works just as hard in the defensive zone as the offensive zone and in the neutral zone as well. She's always in the right place. She's just a high caliber kid and a high caliber hockey player. She's a force out there and she never quits."

ARLINGTON 2, ACTON-BOXBOROUGH 1
The Spy Ponders, the lowest ranked team in the field at No. 18, may have been the biggest surprise on the first day of the showcase. Carolyn Woodin and Katie Cummings had the goals in a 2-1 victory over No. 12 Acton-Boxborough.

"We have to do the little things and get the puck in deep and chip it in and forecheck and play smart," explained Arlington coach Jeff Mead. "We have nine seniors, we're big and we're strong. We don't have a tremendous amount of skill but we can skate and we're physical. We just have to keep doing the little things. Today was one of those games where we got the bounces and AB didn't."

The Colonials (13-5-2) scored the game's first goal as Lauren Roche collected a bouncing puck that came off the stick of teammate Megan Barrett and rifled home a bull's-eye wrist shot for a power play goal at 5:33 of the first period.

Arlington (11-8-0) got it back late in the frame as Woodin converted a feed from captain Kaitlyn Morse. Then, midway through the second, senior Eva Colarusso made a pair of heads up plays, first intercepting an attempted clearing pass and then having the presence of mind to dish the puck over to Cummings, who buried her shot into an open net.

"Eva is a workhorse," praised Mead. "She works hard all the time and she's one of those kids that, once the puck is below the dots, she's big and she's strong, she knows how to protect the puck and she keeps it below the circles. Katie Cummings is another one. They're my number one penalty killers and they're tough to knock off the puck. When they get the puck on their stick its tough to knock them off it."

Recap: No. 4 Duxbury 4, No. 3 Falmouth 1

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
11:47
PM ET


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."

Recap: Duxbury 4, St. Mary's (Lynn) 1

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
1:20
AM ET
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.

SPECIAL TEAMS WAS KEY
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."

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
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."

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