'D' the key for No. 4 Duxbury

KINGSTON, Mass. -- A loss is a loss, but that one was different. It was the second game Rachel Myette had ever played at the varsity level — or for that matter, the second game the freshman had ever played in high school — but it was enough to show Duxbury High girls’ hockey head coach Friend Weiler she was up to task.

Although the Dragons suffered a 3-1 loss to top-ranked St. Mary’s of Lynn, it was clear they’d be all set in net.

“We were right there with them,” Weiler said, thinking back to that loss against the Spartans. “Rachel [Myette] proved that she belonged coming out of the gate and she’s done nothing but continue to work and improve. She’s really grown into the role and become a backbone to the team.”

In doing so, Myette has staked the fourth-ranked Dragons to a 12-1-0 record and they are once again poised to make a long run in the Division 2 tournament. The first-year netminder began her high school career pitching shutouts in three of her first 10 games. As a result, she has held a goals against average that’s hovered in the neighborhood of a goal per game, no small task considering Duxbury has played some of the top teams in Division 1 in addition to a top-flight D-2 schedule.

“The first goal I set for myself was to make the varsity team and then maybe become the starter,” Myette said.

Her transition has been eased by a deep defensive corps in front of her with veterans Martha Findley and Keri Gould anchoring the blue line. Freshmen Caroline Shaughnessy and Ally Hammel have been steady contributors alongside returnee Carly Campbell, who’s also seen time playing forward.

“They’re my game and I’m their game,” said Myette, who also is a pupil of goaltending consultant Brian Eklund. “They’ve helped me out a ton.”

Weiler has also kept legs fresh among the blue-liners, rolling through the five players. It’s also a model of efficiency in that it’s bred familiarity between all the defensemen; no one player is exclusive to playing with another. He believes it’s a driving force behind the fact that Dragons have only allowed 11 goals through 13 contests.

“You shouldn’t be stuck thinking that if your partner is injured or in the box, that you can’t play with someone else,” said Weiler, who won his 100th game behind Duxbury’s bench this season. “It’s good to be able to have depth and roll them out there, get different pairings and playing each other’s strengths.”

It’s also bred camaraderie.

“Our motto going into the season was ‘Work Hard, Work Together’ and I think we’ve lived up to that motto because we don’t want to give up on each other,” Gould said.

Of course, the Dragons have a good amount of firepower up front as well, with the potent trio of Hannah Murphy and Briana and Lily Connolly providing punch on the top line.

With balance in all elements of the game, Duxbury’s learned not to rely on one particular cast member.

“We all keep each other honest,” Weiler said. “We block a lot of shots and whatever gets through, Rachel’s done a good job of cleaning up those shots and then getting the puck to the defensemen to get started on the offensive rush.

“It all works in concert with each other.”

They’re hoping that music can carry them past last year’s Division 2 state semifinal appearance, when the Dragons fell 4-3 to Fontbonne Academy — not that they’re about to get ahead of themselves, however.

“We have high expectations, but we’re going to take it one game at a time,” Findley said, shooting a glance at Weiler, who was standing within earshot outside the team’s locker room at The Bog.

With the player-tested, coach approved response, Weiler cracked a smile of approval, the gaggle of teammates laughed, practice began.