Duxbury High hockey coach Friend Weiler left his girls with a few prophetic words before they skated for the Division 2 title at TD Garden Sunday morning: “Someone in this room is going to step up and make a difference tonight.”
As time expired in the second period, Liz Collins did exactly what Weiler needed her to do: put herself in the right position at the right time.
After the puck ricocheted off the boards, Collins found her moment and caught Falmouth by surprise, skating past four girls to the loose puck, putting a deke on goalie Madison Scavotto for the game’s lone goal, with 12:22 gone in the second period.
Cocaptain Rachel Myette took care of the rest, making 21 saves for her seventh straight shutout, as Duxbury (21-1-2), 65-4-3 the last three seasons, three-peated as state champs.
“I said she should change her initials to G.W.G, to game-winning goal,” said Weiler.
Collins responded with a giggle.
This is the second time the junior has delivered a game-changer for Duxbury. She pulled the same one-timer in last year’s state final, a 3-1 win over Falmouth.
“She’s played a role early on and always has just been one of those type of kids that are cornerstones of a deep team, someone who gives their all and helps you win,” said Weiler.
Despite dreaming that she would score the night before her third appearance at TD Garden, Collins (8 goals, 5 assists this season) was still shocked.
“I couldn’t believe I actually scored at that time because the goalie wasn’t letting anything get by her,” Collins said of Scavotto, who made 30 saves.
“[Coach Weiler] has been saying I’ve been coming up big and I kind of move wherever he needs me to be. I’ve worked hard all three years. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my line.”
Falmouth (19-2-2) was the only team to beat Duxbury this season, halting the Green Dragons’ 34-game winning streak with a 1-0 win on Jan. 5. Duxbury answered with a 4-1 victory in the teams’ second meeting on Jan. 30.
The last Division 2 program to register back-to-back titles before Duxbury’s current run was Dedham, in 2001-02, according to Weiler.
In the last 10 years, Duxbury High teams have captured 23 state titles, with at least one per year, with the boys’ lacrosse program reeling off six straight Division 1 championships.
The success of the girls’ hockey program starts with Weiler, said Duxbury’s athletic director, Thom Holdgate.
“I think he’s definitely helped to attract girls to the program. He walks his talk and knows what he wants to do and loves to skate,” he said of the coach, who owns a 161-72-23 career record.
“He’s reaping in the success,” he said. The last time the Green Dragons (22-1-2) fell in the tournament was to Fontbonne, 3-0, in 2009.
The 12-year coach said his biggest achievement, aside from his three-peat, is his family and his extended 26 daughters from Thanksgiving to St. Patrick’s Day.
“To see the look on their faces and their jubilation and to share that with their families is very special to me,” said Weiler.
“We preach a team and family atmosphere and I think that’s been stronger through the years for an ultimate team sport in the ultimate team way.’’
At the head of the class, though, was senior Hannah Murphy (29 goals, 24 assists), a terrific three-sport athlete who is headed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to play lacrosse. She wrapped up her stellar career on the ice with 99 goals and 104 assists.
“I’m so thrilled to have been her coach,” said Weiler. “She’s tough as nails and is a rock-solid kid, a part of why the program is so successful.
“The sky is the limit for that girl,” he said.
Myette registered a career-best 0.79 goals-against average with 11 shutouts this season.
“Rachel has been a part of the keys to our success and has really been keeping teams to the outside. Obviously, if you don’t get scored on, you can’t be beaten,” said Weiler.
“They say defense wins championships and that’s a part of it, to make a commitment for a total team defense and stepping up, locking it down and having Rachel back there as the defensive backbone,” he said.
Holdgate said it is always nice to have “bookends like Hannah and Rachel.
“[Weiler] can skate three strong lines and you don’t see that a lot in girls’ hockey, especially in big games against Falmouth and St. Mary’s [of Lynn], where we were able to play with depth, and that’s gone a long way,” he said.
This season, Duxbury beat five teams (St. Mary’s, Arlington Catholic, Hingham, Barnstable, and Newton North) that qualified for the Division 1 tournament, and after the success of the past three years, plenty of talk has surfaced about moving up.
“We’ve had conversations about Division 1 and it’s difficult because over time it’s hard to keep up with bigger programs,” said Weiler.
“We’ve had discussions about moving up but we’ll talk about it in the future. [In the meantime] I’ve scheduled with Division 1 teams to keep [the players] battle-tested.”
The Green Dragons will lose only Murphy and Myette to graduation, so Weiler is confident his squad will be a contender again next season.
His last words to Falmouth coach Erin Hunt as they shook hands at the end of their matchup at TD Garden: “We’ll see you next year.”
Liz Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.