(THE LAST LINE OF DEFENSE: Sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette led the league with eight shutouts and a .933 GAA.)
For a town with fewer than 1,000 students in its high school, you can’t find another town around with a school that can bring as much joy to a community when it comes to post-season play as Duxbury High School.
While track, swimming and wrestling seem to take a back seat to basketball and hockey on the winter scene, those three sports have produced a State champion in track (Emily Doyle), a sixth-place team finish in girls’ swimming at the State championships and a wrestler who went on to compete in the All-States.
With those sports having completed their seasons, the town’s attention now turns to basketball and hockey: a mixed bag of teams when it comes to discussing championship potential.
Starting at the top is the girls’ hockey team the current defending State champs in Division ll with a roster loaded with returning veterans and a team that finished the season undefeated at 18-0-1.
The No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, the Lady Dragons were picked as a power before the season started and have fulfilled that promise during the regular season.
This team is loaded and can pretty much play whatever style is needed to win. With All-Star scorers in Hannah Murphy and Lily Connolly, Coach Friend Weiler’s squad can put constant pressure on a defense, not only with his All-Stars, but also with a freshman line of Jane Dudley, Marissa Fichter and Meredith Wright that should be terrorizing opponents for the next four years.
If you want to play a tight-checking game, then you can count on a quartet of all-stars in senior captain Martha Findley, sophomore defenseman Caroline Shaunessy, sophomore defenseman Ally Hammel, and sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette to keep opponents off the board.
“We know we’ll have a bull’s eye on our backs. That’s why we scheduled a lot of tough teams at the end of the season that wanted to knock us off,” said Weiler. “This way we know we have to be ready every night in the playoffs to get the other team’s best game, so it helps us to remain focused.”
For a team that is averaging over five
goals per game and allowing less than one, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Lady Dragons are an all-out offensive machine.
“We have the offensive punch to keep up with any team, but we also have a solid defensive corps that starts with Rachel. I think our depth allows us to play different types of games depending on what we see, but as long as we bear down we should be in every game.”
While big things were expected from the girls’ hockey team, expectations for the Lady Dragons basketball team were just as glowing.
With the majority of the team returning, along with a new head coach, things were a bit more unsettling than were expected.
A tough start in the regular season schedule had Duxbury sporting a 1-5 record after the first six games, but the climb back to respectability wouldn’t take long, as the Lady Dragons went 9-1 over their next 10 games and finished 12-6 during the regular season. A split of two games in the Warrior Winter Classic in Foxboro last week left them at 13-7 as they enter the Division II playoffs.
Much like the start of the regular season, the first game in the playoffs won’t be a cakewalk either, as Duxbury has drawn Falmouth (17-1), the No. 3 seed in the tournament.
“I got to see Falmouth play and they are a very talented basketball team that is loaded with guards,” said Coach Bob Sullivan. “They have seven or eight kids that can shoot threes. This is going to be length against speed.”
While the team seemed to handle their Patriot League opponents rather handily, the Clippers appear to be a far greater challenge for the Lady Dragons, who are counting on 1000-point scorer Michela North to do some damage inside, while hoping her teammates can keep Falmouth’s shooters off balance.
“We need to take away their three-point shooters and prevent their forward (Liz Knox) from shooting her threes too and then going down low,” said Sullivan. “We have the height advantage and we should be able to rebound. If we can take care of the basketball, because I know they are going to press us, and play some solid defense on both ends of the floor we can be successful.”
While the girls seem to be holding up Duxbury’s athletic reputation on the winter sports scene, the boys struggled during the regular season, but have come on late and could be peaking at the right time as the playoffs approach.
Coach John Blake’s hockey team was mired in mediocrity for much of the season, as a lack of scoring punch contributed to just five goals over the first six games.
Consistency has been the Dragons’ problem and Blake knows after their three-game losing streak in the Cape Cod Classic at the end of the season that they can’t afford to duplicate that once the tournament starts.
“We got taken right out of the game in the first period against Austin Prep and they had us down 3-0,” said Blake. “Then we came back against Hingham and had one of our best games of the season. In the last game against Falmouth the same thing happened as it did with Austin Prep. We were slow out of the gate and Falmouth got up 1-0. We had a much better second and third period, but they still won, 2-1. It seems like we play well at times, but we can’t put together a good 45 minutes.”
Unlike other sports, a hot goalie can carry a team through tough times and senior Conor Charland has been that man. When the Dragons needed to win or tie eight straight games to qualify for the tournament before heading off for the Cape, Charland carried the Dragons by allowing just 13 goals and back-boning the team to an impressive 3-1 win over Pembroke to win the Patriot League title and insure a playoff spot.
“We need to compete for 45 minutes or it’s going to be one and done for us,” said Blake.
It is expected that the Dragons will take on either Braintree or Natick, possibly on Wednesday night at a site to be determined.
“We’re not the type of team that can get into a shootout. We can’t get into a wide open style. We have a bunch of grinders that are hard-working kids. Most of our games have been low-scoring and that seems to be our style,” said Blake.
While the girls’ basketball game in Falmouth is definitely on tap for Wednesday night at 7, girls’ and boys’ hockey are still up in the air as this article was written. Please check the Boston Globe or the DHS Athletic website for times and locations for tournament games.