BOSTON -- Duxbury coach Friend Weiler had an inkling all week in practice that special teams might play a big role in the Green Dragons Division 2 state championship matchup against Fontbonne, so he worked his team hard on every possible scenario.
To be forewarned is forearmed, as they say, and Duxbury's prescience and preparation paid major dividends. The Green Dragons killed off six penalties, including a pair of 5-on-3 situations, and Hannah Murphy came through the game-winning goal with just 45 seconds remaining to give No. 2 Duxbury a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Fontbonne and the program's first state title at TD Garden Sunday morning.
"To not get scored on when we were shorthanded is a credit to the girls," praised Dragons coach Friend Weiler. "They worked hard, they believed, and I knew once we weathered those we were going to be alright. We waited til the last minute to do it but it’s very sweet. I’m proud of all the girls, they worked so hard.
Offensively, it was Murphy who came up big when her team needed it most. The sophomore collected a loose puck off a turnover outside the Ducks blue line, skated in, deked once to her left and fired toward the right for the game-winner.
"At the faceoff, they had just scored and I was like, we got this," Murphy said. "We couldn’t give up and I could just feel that we were going to score. It just happened to be me. I got the puck and the defense was just straight on. I went left first and saw the right was open and just shot it."
The first period was pretty much back and forth, but Duxbury (21-3) took three penalties in the frame, two of which resulted in the first 5-on-3. Murphy was the hero of that penalty kill, breaking out of her own zone and killing off nearly 40 seconds protecting the puck in the corner near Fontbonne's crease.
Duxbury (21-3) began to assert itself in the second and grabbed a 1-0 lead just 39 seconds in. Briana Connolly won a faceoff in the Fontbonne (16-3-5) zone, then found herself open as defenseman Ally Hammel poked the puck forward. Connolly split through the defense and fired her wrist shot to the short side of the net.
Early in the third, the Dragons found themselves facing another 5-on-3, but the Martha Findley-led penalty killing unit didn't allow a single shot.
"We practice those a lot and it worked out very well," Findley said. "Five on three we needed to stay in the triangle. Taylor Shepherd is their best player so we had one girl stay on her and see what she would do and then we all just focused on the triangle and rotated."
Ducks goalie Lan Crofton proved nearly impossible to beat throughout the game, weathering a 16-shot storm in the second while giving her team a chance to get back into the game. The sophomore finished with 29 saves.
"She made a lot of good saves, made a couple good glove saves, from the bottom of the net to the top," said Fontbonne coach Bob Huxley, who's team reached the title game for the third consecutive season. "She kept the puck moving. She tied it up when she needed to. She has a good feel for the team and when she needs to tie up so it gives us chance to get a whistle if we need it. She moves well side to side and sees the puck well."
Crofton's offense rewarded her effort late in the third, when Taylor Shepherd, who has scored as many clutch goals as anyone in Massachusetts over the last four years, finally sprung loose for a breakaway. Erin McLaughlin made a terrific pass between the blue lines and Shepherd walked in for the tying goal with just 2:40 remaining.
That was the only shot the Ducks were able to get past Duxbury's freshman netminding sensation, Rachel Myette, who finished with 20 saves. Instead of faltering after Shepherd's goal, the Dragons dug in and Murphy's game-winner sent everyone wearing green home with a smile.
"She’s a stud," Weiler said of Murphy. "Big players play the biggest in the big games and she saved the best for last. She got it done for us. She’s a great kid and a hard worker. She never gives up."
FONTBONNE (16-3-5) 0 0 1 - 1
DUXBURY (21-3-0) 0 1 1 - 2
FIRST - No scoring.
SECOND - D, Briana Connolly (Ally Hammel), :31.
THIRD - F, Taylor Shepherd (Erin McLoughlin, Michelle Barrett), 12:20; D, Hannah Murphy (Martha Findley, Briana Connolly), 14:15.
F, Lan Crofton (29 SAVES); D, Rachel Myette (20 SAVES).