BOSTON — Midway through the third period of the Division 1 girls’ state final game at TD Garden, the Cougars of Arlington Catholic tied the game at one and appeared to seize the momentum.
However, there is a reason the Duxbury Dragons had won three consecutive state championships coming into the game.
Just 11 seconds after AC tied the game at one, junior Marissa Fichter pounced on a Julia Nolan face-off win and fired a blast past Cougars goalie Katherine Crane for the eventual game winner in Duxbury’s 2-1 victory.
“It is a lot of credit to my center Julia Nolan,” said Fichter. “We practice it all the time and scored on it once before in a game. I would like to say I was picking a spot but I just fired it towards the net and it went in.”
It is the fourth straight championship for the Dragons, their first in Division I, after being moved up from Division II this season.
“This team was not going to be denied,” said Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler. “It was a complete team effort. This team just worked so hard and never gave up. The girls just wanted it today.”
After a relatively quiet first two periods, things opened up in the third period, specifically for Duxbury who got on the board just 40 seconds into the final stanza.
On the first shift of the third period, Dragons junior forward Jane Dudley crashed hard into the end boards but later in the shift, she exacted her revenge.
Collecting a loose puck near center ice, Dudley broke down the left wing with an AC defender draped on her, but Dudley stayed strong on the puck and cut to the middle firing a low, hard shot through the legs of Crane for a 1-0 lead.
“Jane [Dudley] has been on fire for the entire playoff run,” said Weiler. “She is a fierce competitor and today when we needed her at the biggest time, she came through. She had kind of been pushed to the outside and I was trying to get her to get her to lower the shoulder and cut it to the middle and she did today.”
The Cougars would not go quietly and despite having many good chances on Duxbury goalie Rachel Myette, they finally broke through with 6:59 left in the third period.
After some hard work behind the net by senior Danielle Kelley, the puck squirted in front to Jackie Sindoris who tucked a nifty back-hand pass to Kelley who beat Myette high to tie the game at one.
The celebration was short lived as Fichter provided the game winner just seconds later, leaving the Cougars stunned, and unable to rally in the final minutes.
“We didn’t play our style of hockey the first two periods I felt,” said Cougars head coach Maggie Taverna. “Danielle [Kelley] came up with a huge goal for us and then they got a quick goal back. It was a good game. Duxbury is a great team and has a great goaltender.”
OH MY-ETTE: Midway through the third period, Duxbury senior goalie Rachel Myette proved that she was human, after allowing a goal to tie the game at one.
The goal was noteworthy because it was the first she had let up the entire postseason.
In fact, Myette went through all of last postseason not allowing a goal. You have to go back to the 2011-12 final against Falmouth to find the last time she allowed a postseason goal before today’s final which locked up her fourth individual championship.
“I don’t think it is real at all right now and I feel like I am in a dream,” said Myette. “It is real and it is an insane feeling that I can’t describe. To end my senior year like this is just insane.”
Despite allowing the tying goal, Myette’s confidence never wavered.
“My team is a third period team and we have shown that we have the heart in us to dig down deep,” added Myette. “It was really important to get on them and destroy their momentum after their goal.”
As the final seconds ticked down, the Cougars had a last ditch effort as snipers Jess Piracini and Adrieanna Rossini bore down on a two-on-one. The Duxbury defender played the pass, allowing Myette to play the shooter, and flash a pad to deny Piracini with five seconds left, putting a stamp on a remarkable career.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT: For Arlington Catholic, the sting of losing consecutive state title games will take some time to wear off.
However, they will return their three top scorers in Rossini, Piracini, and Sindoris as well as their group of four talented defensemen.
Goaltender Katherine Crane also returns but recall that she was a first-year goalie this year, so the future is sure to be bright for the Lady Cougars so don’t rule out a potential return trip to the Garden next year.
“We do have a lot of good kids coming back,” added Taverna. “We had a great year this year and the kids were very successful early on and into the rest of the season.”