EAST MARLBOROUGH >> For Unionville senior goalie Madison Doucette, it was a storybook ending to a stellar career.
On June 9, at West Chester East High School, the Indians had just defeated Manheim, 11-6, for their first-ever PIAA 3A state title. At the final buzzer, fellow Unionville seniors Taryn Burke, Erin Garvey and Veronica Hineman came running toward Doucette.
“Seeing the sideline empty and catching both Taryn and Erin while Veronica was jumping around us was a moment I will never forget,” said Doucette. “My first reaction [at the buzzer] was disbelief; while we knew we could do it, the moment where all our hard work came to fruition was unbelievable.
“We had been talking about winning a state championship since my freshman year, so there was quite a bit of time that I just stood to the side, watched my team celebrate, and soaked it all in. It was an unbelievable way to end not just a season but a high school career.”
For her efforts in the Indians’ first-ever state title, Doucette, a US Lacrosse All-American and the leader of a relatively young defense, has been named the Daily Local News’ 2018 Girls’ Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“Madison is a great leader of our defense,” said Unionville head coach Suzanne Sheehan. “She’s very good at communicating with our younger defenders, and she’s aware that they are [relatively] new to the defense and to high-caliber lacrosse. She’s very sensitive with how to communicate with them, but also helps get them in the right spot when they need to be there, when to crash and when to slide. She is strong at making quick decisions, and has clear sights on the entire field, and specifically on the defensive side of the restraining line.”
A key moment for Docuette and the Unionville defense in the state final came when the Indians picked up their first yellow card.
“We knew how strongly Manheim had taken advantage of the cards called on Springfield [in the state semifinal], but we remained calm,” said Doucette. “The defense and I communicated extremely well and forced a turnover that allowed us to maintain the momentum we established early on.”
For Doucette, the most important characteristics of a good defense are communication and aggression, in that order.
“We ran a few different defensive systems which required adaptability and the ability to change systems on the fly,” said Doucette. “My personal role came in with calling for doubles, slides, and forcing attackers to a particular side. Taryn and I were lucky to have three strong, young [starting] defenders that were communicative in their own way but also open to our suggestions throughout the play.”
For the 2018 spring season, Doucette recorded 157 saves for Unionville (23-2), posting a save percentage of .580.
Doucette’s first time in the goalie cage was at age 12, and eventually became a full-time goalie as a freshman at Unionville, one year after her family moved from Kansas.
“The goalie on my club team wasn’t able to play, so my coach decided to toss me in for the remaining two games of the season, one of which was the championship, which we won,” said Doucette. “I went back to field, but the difference of the position made it appealing so I made the [permanent] jump to the position in my freshman year. The unexpected athleticism, reaction time, and even the gear made the change interesting for me. I started watching goalies with unique styles like Devon Wills and had fun taking bits from every game and adapting it to my own style of play.”
When asked what she thought was the strongest aspect of her game as a goalie, Docuette responded, “If I had to name something, I would say my athleticism. The general speed and reaction time have helped me in making saves and moving confidently outside of the cage. I’m currently trying to develop the latter. I watched the 2017 US National Team run its pseudo-8 man defensive system and would love to have the opportunity to play a similar, active role with my teams in the future.”
This fall, Doucette will be taking her lacrosse goaltending talents to Northwestern University.
Prior to each Unionville game, Doucette engaged in a pre-game ritual that was part physical, part mental.
“Before every game, I visualized different saves and scenarios that could unfold, trying to ‘see’ as many shots as I can before getting in the cage,” said Doucette. “Once we got on the field, I ran the team dynamic warm-up, then did hand-eye drills and juggling with my goalie partner, Megan Kirk. Veronica Hineman and Erin Garvey shot on me before every game, then right before the draw, we huddled up, then did stick taps and secret handshakes before taking the field.”
During her time at Unionville, Doucette wore uniform jersey No. 22 in part because she is an admirer of Hayley Wickenheiser, who was the first woman to play full-time professional hockey in a position other than goalie, the winner of four straight Olympic gold medals for Canada, and a semi-professional ice hockey player in Finland. Doucette’s mother, Amy, also wore No. 22 in high school.
Doucette gives credit to a number of mentors for her development as a goalie.
“Although she was not a goalie, [Unionville coach] Lisa Aikman was a huge proponent in me becoming a goalie,” said Doucette. “She trusted me since freshman year in the position, before I even was confident [about it] myself. Northwestern assistant coach Tim McCormack has also helped me so much through the process of developing as a goalie. He has given me so much insight on how to play the position technically, but also the leeway to approach the position with a different style. Additionally, I have recently started working with Robert ‘Mongo’ Mongeluzzi. While he is a dodging coach, I have learned a lot about shooting tendencies indirectly, for which I am incredibly grateful.”
At Northwestern, Doucette will be majoring in biomedical engineering, as part of the renowned McCormick School of Engineering.
“Within the field, I would love to pursue the particular paths of either cellular regeneration or neuroplasticity,” said Doucette. “But I am also open-minded to explore whatever discipline piques my interest most, and work to develop solutions to medical problems.”