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High School Field Hockey

Matherson, Feeley power Walpole field hockey to an unbeaten start

Walpole senior right wing Brooke Matherson (left) fires a shot on a penalty corner during a 7-0 shutout of Framingham.

Peter Cappiello for The Boston Globe

Walpole senior right wing Brooke Matherson (left) fires a shot on a penalty corner during a 7-0 shutout of Framingham.

Just seven minutes into play, Walpole High senior Lina Feeley trapped the ball off a penalty corner under the lights Monday night and chipped it to her left for classmate Brooke Matherson .

Matherson, a returning Globe All-Scholastic wing, wound up for a right-side hit and with a loud whack, the ball connected with the back of the cage, handing the host Porkers a 2-0 cushion against Bay State Conference foe Framingham.

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“It was going far corner,” Matherson said confidently after her team’s 7-0 win.

“Coach [Marianne] Murphy is always on my back about shooting to the far corner, so usually I’m looking there. Unless I see the goalie is out of position, then I go short side.”

The 5-foot-6 Matherson ended the night with a hat trick, which is not a rare occurrence. In Walpole’s 12-0 start, she racked up 22 goals, after finishing last season with an even 50.

Framingham coach Ellen Sowa implored her players to “get on 7 [Matherson],” because of how often the Boston College recruit had touched the ball.

The Porkers captain said she still heard the call to mark her from the Flyers’ sideline after she had come off the field for a substitution. She took it as a compliment, but feels that her teammates, especially Feeley, are the ones opponents should be watching.

The two are the latest leaders for a program that has captured 10 MIAA state titles, the first coming in 1984.

Murphy (class of ’76) has guided her alma mater to two state titles (2004, 2006) since taking over for Penny Calf , who won seven state crowns in 12 seasons before retiring in 2001.

Walpole has produced dozens of standouts who have played collegiately, including Dina Rizzo (’98), who went on to star at the University of Maryland and suited up for the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Porkers played on the upper field, at the top of the hill, for years, but all of the varsity games were moved to the turf at Turco Field last year. Lights were installed in 2005.

Walpole, which reached the state semifinals last season before losing to eventual Division 1 champion Acton-Boxborough, last won a state crown in 2006.

“There’s a little pressure to continue the legacy,” Feeley said. “And since we’ve come so close in previous years, it’s kind of a touchy subject. A lot of the kids at school make fun of us.”

Murphy said there are seven new additions to her squad this year, but that does not change the club’s expectations.

Field hockey is embraced in town.

Young girls can join “Porker camp” when they are in fifth grade. The annual summer sessions run Monday through Friday, with members of the high school team serving as instructors. On Saturday mornings they scrimmage.

Center forward Melanie Weber impressed enough in camp to earn a spot on the varsity as freshman, stepping into the lineup for Michaela Tosone , now at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“We look for a certain type of player for each position,” Murphy said. “She’s quick and skilled. To my surprise, she stepped up and has been working very well with Matherson.”

Weber (seven goals this season), who had an assist on Nicole Tobin’s first varsity goal Monday, said her goal is to reach double digits in scoring.

She said she did not expect to play a major role on the team, but has enjoyed her time on the forward line with Matherson, a player she looked up to before joining the varsity.

“She’s one of the best,” Weber said. “I looked up to her because she was also a freshman forward and she also scored a lot of goals. I hope to be like her one day.”

Their on-field chemistry continues to develop. Matherson often sends a ball down the sideline for Weber, who dishes it back toward the middle for the senior to capitalize on a scoring attempt.

Feeley said she felt Weber was prepared to be a contributor at the varsity level after coaching her at the Porker camp. She added that Weber reminds her of Tosone because they are both short, fast, and have good vision at high speed.

The team focus now is on continuing the unbeaten run. The biggest tests have come in nonleague games against teams like Andover, Franklin, and Weston.

Feeley said she does not think of wins and losses during the regular season. Her mind is strictly on the playoffs, even more so because it is her last year as a Porker.

“In previous years we’ve always been like, ‘oh we have next year,’ ” she said. “But this year, this is it. In previous years after watching them win the states, we thought that could have been us. I run through it in my head, it’s motivating.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at peter.cappiello@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps.
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