Field hockey wins third straight Patriot League title

Written by Mike Halloran
 | Wednesday, 26 October 2011 16:33

The Duxbury field hockey team is out to prove their sport isn’t a low-scoring affair.

After lighting up Notre Dame for eight goals in a shutout win last Monday, the Lady Dragons entertained Scituate for the Patriot League title on Wednesday afternoon and turned a 0-0 halftime game into a Duxbury rout with a 5-0 win over the Sailors to capture their third straight league title.

With an incredible stretch of 13 goals in two games, you would think that the Lady Dragons would take it easy on non-league opponent Falmouth, who travelled up from the Cape for a Saturday afternoon battle with Duxbury on Senior Day.

Instead, they grabbed a 1-0 lead on a first half goal by Hannah Murphy, and then exploded for five more second-half goals in an impressive 6-0 win over the Clippers.

“The girls are very focused on the end of the season,” said Coach Pam Manley. “We’ve talked about how our record is going to dictate how many home games we have and what out seeding is in the playoffs. This is a group of girls who I haven’t had to worry about a lack of focus. They are always looking to improve, if not on the field, then talking about it on the bench or in the locker room. So part of the process is to get the highest seed we can to get home games on our turf against lower seed teams.”

The Murphy goal was a huge boost for the Lady Dragons, who managed to survive an early flurry by the Clippers that included a penalty shot that Duxbury goaltender Sophie Fitzpatrick dove to her left and saved to keep her team from getting behind.

When the second half started, the physically fit Lady Dragons poured it all on.

“Our girls are in great shape and they have shown they are a second-half team,” said Manley. “These kids work for 60 minutes, while other teams we play can only go all out for half the game.”

It took Duxbury less than seven minutes to add an insurance goal, as Molly Zaverucha notched the first goal of her hat-trick when she scored on a corner to the right of Falmouth goaltender Kendall Stouffer.

Two minutes later Murphy was at it again, as she poked home a loose ball from a pile in front of the net to give the Lady Dragons a commanding 3-0 lead with 21:22 left in the game.

The Clippers didn’t give up, and neither did Fitzpatrick, as she responded with two more tough saves on corners to preserve the lead.

With their goaltender showing the way, Duxbury responded with three more goals off the sticks of sophomore Katie Smith and Zaverucha (2).

“My coaches and I were just saying that we have had snippets of 10 or 15 minute runs where we play well, but we know we can do better,” said the head coach. “After a game like this it is good to know we have all the pieces to do well and it helps build confidence in the fact that we can beat quality teams outside the league. We play so many teams on the South Shore at least twice, so it is nice to know we can do well against teams we aren’t as familiar with.”

The win followed Wednesday’s title win over Scituate.

After a scoreless first half, Manley’s squad showed just what she meant when she said her players had plenty of stamina to be a great second-half team.

A Cory Connolly goal got things rolling, and the Smith sisters took over after that, with Lily scoring an insurance tally and sister Katie getting a second-half hat-trick for a 5-0 win.

The recent scoring blitz has the Lady Dragons with the top three scorers in the Patriot League, including leader Connolly with 12 goals and 15 assists, while Murphy has tallied 16 goals and eight assists, with only Sarah Hoffman of Scituate scoring more goals (18). Zaverucha is close behind Murphy with 15 goals and six assists.

While Duxbury’s offense has been the talk of the league, much has to be said for the play of the defense and the goaltending of Fitzpatrick, who has registered 13 shutouts and allowed just three goals in 16 games.

“The girls have so much confidence in Sophie back there,” said Manley. “And our front line defense of senior Caroline Phinney, sophomore Ally Hammel, and sophomore Caroline Shaunnessy has been great. They aren’t allowing anyone to get into the circle. They play very aggressively, and they combine with junior defender Kathryn Nutter and freshman Meredith Wright on our back line to form what has to be one of the best defensive groups in the history of the program.”

After taking on tournament rival Hopkinton on Monday and Patriot League foe Silver Lake yesterday, the team will end its regular season schedule on Thursday afternoon when it travels to Marshfield to take on the Rams in their quest for the No. 1 seed in the MIAA tournament.