In the closing seconds of their 2-2 tie against perennial power St. Mary’s of Lynn Saturday afternoon, the Duxbury High girls killed off what could have been a very costly penalty at The Bog in Kingston.
“No one likes ties, but the girls know that they have to play three periods at the level that they played for first two periods,’’ said Duxbury coach Friend Weiler, when his team built a 2-0 lead.
The defending Division 2 state champion, Duxbury is stocked with depth, talent, and experience to make a run at a repeat. The Dragons entered Tuesday’s matchup against St. Mary Bay View Academy (R.I.) in the first round of the Cougar Classic unbeaten at 16-0-1.
Duxbury is certainly in playoff mode.
In the past week, the Dragons blanked defending Division 1 champion Hingham, 3-0, in addition to netting the draw against St. Mary’s.
“Both Hingham and St. Mary’s are the class of Division 1, and our girls hung with them the entire way through,’’ said Weiler, whose squad has outscored foes 91-16 this season. “That’s why I made the schedule the way that I did. We wanted to be mindful that you have to play your best hockey at the end of the season.’’
Hannah Murphy (15 goals, 25 assists) and Lily Connolly (18-17) fuel the attack.
With tourney near, five stories beckon
Here are five other story lines with the state tournament right around the corner (the MIAA pairings will be released on Saturday).
Do the Marshfield boys have what it takes to make another run? A year after capturing the Division 1 title, the Rams (16-2-2) are serious contenders for a Super 8 berth after their 1-1 tie against St. Mary’s of Lynn. If not, Marshfield will probably be the top seed in the Division 1 South bracket.
“It’s negative in the sense that we have that target on our backs, but our kids have that experience of being there and playing in those big games, which I think does give us a big plus,’’ said Marshfield coach Dan Connolly.
No matter which bracket the Rams are placed in, they will need production from forwards Mike Cabrone (24 points), Joe Admirand (20 points), and Chris Perry (19 points).
Just a year after a muscle in his right leg was severed by a skate blade of a Wakefield player in the state final, nearly nicking his femoral artery, Perry is excited to be back in the tournament.
“He’s a leader for us, and he’s a key player, too,’’ said Connolly. “He plays all situations for us. Nice to have a kid with the experience he has, and he’s been a big inspiration for the kids, too.’’
Who emerges out of Walpole, Norwood, and Westwood pack in Division 2 girls?
Via Route 1A, it is pretty easy to connect dots between the three schools. They are close in proximity, and the same could be said for the talent of their girls’ hockey teams.
Norwood (15-4-1) has been a force in the Bay State Conference all season, finishing 13-2-1 in league play. Both of those losses came to Herget champion Walpole, but the Mustangs had impressive victories over Dedham (twice), Braintree, and Scituate.
Westwood (14-4-1) has put together a stellar season, considering that its roster of 25 includes 18 underclassmen. The Wolverines will make noise in the postseason, and are poised to do so for seasons to come.
But Walpole is a cut above. After a close, 4-3 loss to Duxbury, followed by a 2-2 tie to Braintree, the Rebels have gone 15-0-2, outscoring their opponents, 84-13. The Rebels have an explosive offense led by senior Cori Donahue (33 points) and have one of the best goalies in the state in junior Bethany Welch (4 shutouts).
“Not too many people were keen on taking on Duxbury [to start the season],’’ said Walpole coach Joe Verderber, “but coming out of that game, everyone said that was a semifinals- or finals-caliber hockey game. They definitely were the better team, but we skated with them for the most part.
“They consistently executed general X’s and O’s, and when we broke down, they took advantage of that. I believe we have numbers and players to skate with them. It’s just a matter of experience to maintain the composure to execute.’’
Who is the leader in the Division South?
The South Shore League will be well represented in the Division 3 boys’ tourney, with five of the eight teams (not including Carver/Sacred Heart) headed to the postseason. With the likes of Norwell (14-3), Cohasset (14-3-3), Rockland (13-5-1), Scituate (11-5-2), and Middleborough (11-5-1), there may well be tightly contested games every night.
Defending Division 3 South champion Pembroke will also be in the hunt.
The Titans have put up huge offensive numbers all season, but their most important player is junior goalie Bobby McElligot, a first-year starter who has registered a 1.80 goals-against average with four shutouts.
“We’re going to have to lean on him during the tourney,’’ said Pembroke coach Mark Duffy. “Taking care of our end also takes getting big saves at big times. We expect him to be there in the tourney as well.’’
How do young goalies perform in the postseason?
A number of sophomore girls have put together impressive seasons in net.
Rachel Myette (0.93 goals-against average) has been dominant for Duxbury, while Taylor Walsh (Hingham) and Siobhan Burke (Westwood) have also been huge keys to their respective teams’ success. Walsh boasts a low 1.81 GAA, while Burke is allowing two goals per game.
At Archbishop Williams, coach Mark McHale is counting on sophomore Ashley Dallaire, who has compiled a 2.35 GAA with four shutouts playing a demanding schedule against the likes of Arlington Catholic, St. Mary’s of Lynn, Fontbonne, and Ursuline.
“She’s going to bring us to the next level,’’ said McHale of the East Bridgewater resident. “She’s an important factor to our team. The game starts from the net out, and she has won some big games for us this year.’’
Is there a dark horse in Division 1 South?
Watch out for the Duxbury boys. After a 2-5-1 start, the Dragons finished 9-7-4, including 9-1-4 in league play, including 2-1-3 against Pembroke (14-3-3), North Quincy (10-5-4), and Scituate (11-5-2). Duxbury also dropped a pair of 2-1 games to Marshfield.
“They’re a really strong skating club,’’ said Pembroke’s Duffy of his league rival. “They attack with a tremendous amount of speed. Their goalie is one of the tops in the state in goals-against average, and it’s certainly a reflection of his play. It’s been phenomenal having them back in the league and being able to play them twice a season.’’
Duxbury may not be the favorite, but the Dragons have the ability to send a team home if they are not ready to play.
Kudos to four
Four local players eclipsed the 100-point career mark last week: Milton forward Paul Curran, Cohasset senior captain Alex Evans, Scituate senior Maggie Travers (in a 3-goal, 2-assist effort), and Rockland senior forward Kevin Sheehan (hat trick).
Andrew MacDougall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.