BOSTON, Mass. - When Friend Weiler started the Duxbury girls hockey program 11 years ago, he never imagined that he would end up presiding over true dynasties in Massachusetts high school sports.
161 victories later, it would seem that he is doing exactly that.
The Dragons remarkable run continued Sunday morning at TD Garden as sophomore Liz Collins potted the game's only goal and junior goalie Rachel Myette made 21 saves in a 1-0 shutout of Falmouth to capture the program's third consecutive Div. 1 state championship.
"Eleven years ago when we started this with 12 girls, this was always the goal but to actually get here and sustain what we've been able to sustain, it's beyond my wildest dreams," Weiler said. "Every girl that ever strapped on a pair of skates for me, I still get emails, they're always coming back. It's like a big family and I'm glad that these girls were able to do it for all of Duxbury hockey."
Coming in, there was no question that the spotlight in this game would shine down upon the two goalies as Duxbury's Rachel Myette and Falmouth's Maddie Scavotto are among the state's upper echelon of talent. The rival netminders tossed up goose eggs for a little over 27 minutes and it looked like whoever got the first goal might take it.
That goal came in the form of Duxbury sophomore Liz Collins, who informed teammate Hannah Murphy of a premonition she had the night before that she would score. Collins got loose in transition but got caught up in a tremendous back-check by Falmouth's Kendall Stouffer, who forced her wide. Scavotto came out to challenge, but Collins maintained enough control to sweep the puck around her and into the back of the net with 2:38 left in the second period.
"They came down into our own zone and then Payton (Donato) came behind the net and chipped it off," said Collins, describing the play. "We noticed that they were kind of slow at transitioning coming back and I could tell by their defensemen that they didn't see I was coming up from behind so I forechecked hard on her and then I got the puck. The girl lifted up my stick at the end so the goalie thought I had already shot it and that's why the net was wide open to get it in."
As far as her premonition, we'll let Murphy tell the story.
"Liz told me before the game, 'Hannah I'm sitting next to you. I score every time I sit next to you.' And then she said, 'I had a dream last night that I scored and I'm going to score today.' She told herself she was going to score and she did. She never gave up. Her first move, she missed and then she kept digging and she scored. I'm just really proud of her and overall proud of the whole team.
The goalie battle raged on from there as Scavotto (30 saves) made stop after stop to give her team a chance to get back in it. The Dragons were wary too because Falmouth has shown in the past that they were capable of third-period comebacks, most recently against Westwood in the semifinals.
Those hopes would prove futile, however, thanks to the work of Myette and the Dragons defense. Led by Ally Hammel, Carly Campbell and Payton Donato, the Duxbury blue line corps helped own the neutral zone and swarmed any Clippers forward that got beyond the blue line.
Myette would finish with her seventh straight shutout and a state-leading 11th on the season, setting a new career high for herself in the process.
"In the third period, we just said we're playing a defensive mindset to keep them out because they were a third period team," Myette explained. "They came back against Westwood and Wellesley to win both of those of games. They were going to come back with a fire we've never seen before and we just needed to shut them down."
She added, "My defensemen are really trustworthy. I can always trust them on and off the ice and they always step up when they're needed and make the biggest plays."
For Falmouth, despite having been in this game a year ago, a very young team still showed early signs of nerves, as the mere three first-period shots they managed will attest to. The Clippers also had difficulty adjusting to the Dragons physical style of play, and it seemed to throw them off a bit.
"You just have to drive and that's puck possession and leaning in and driving the net," Falmouth coach Erin Hunt said. "There's not much else you can do if they've got a body on you. Stick work you can try and make a move but when they've got a body...its like boys hockey, you hit them and they're done. You can't do much. It was hard to get in there. I definitely think we had our opportunities tonight but we just didn't capitalize on them."