It's now guaranteed that Meghan Duggan and the US Women's Hockey Team will come home from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver with medals draped around their necks.
The only thing left to settle is whether they'll be gold or silver.
The pride of Danvers, the 22-year-old Duggan scored her fourth goal of the Olympics — which proved to be the game-winner — as the Americans stormed into the gold medal game by crushing Sweden, 9-1, in the semifinals yesterday at Canada Hockey Place.
"That was an amazing goal by Meghan," said her older brother Bryan, one of many Duggan family members in Vancouver to cheer her on. "The Jumbotron zoomed right in on her face after she scored, and you could see the joy in Meg's face so clearly."
That goal, a rebound coming on the power play in the first period, gave Team USA a 2-0 lead en route to its fourth consecutive blowout victory.
Now, the only thing standing between Duggan, her teammates and the dream they've all been chasing — Olympic gold — are the host Canadian women's team. The two-time defending Olympic champions took care of business in their own semifinal last night, besting Finland, 5-0, to advance to their fourth straight gold medal game.
Thus, the Americans and Canadians will play one game to determine the best women's team in the world Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Vancouver (6:30 p.m. EST).
Bryan Duggan, who was with his sister, the rest of his own family and most of the other US women's team players and their families last night at the Proctor & Gamble House (for U.S. Olympic athletes and their families) to watch the Canada/Finland game, said that Meghan's goal was one she specializes in.
"My family jokingly call those "garbage goals" that Megs scores, because she's always cleaning up the garbage in front (of the net)," said Bryan Duggan. "But that's exactly what she does; she gets herself in the right place at the right time, and when she has the chance to score like that, she very seldom misses it.
"Because she's one of the bigger players (5-foot-9), not many people can move her from the front of the net. She parks herself out front and just waits for a rebound."
With the Americans already holding an early 1-0 lead, Sweden's Emma Eliasson was sent to the penalty box for a body checking penalty at 8:06 of the opening period. Just 17 seconds later, Duggan scooped up a loose rebound and, with Swedish goaltender Kim Martin sprawled out helpless on the ice, she easily roofed a shot into the goal for a two-goal advantage.
Duggan has now scored two goals against China and one apiece vs. Finland and Sweden in these Olympics. Two of those goals have come on the power play.
Monique Lamoureux scored three goals to lead the Americans, who have managed 40 goals in their four games while giving up a mere two (both while shorthanded). Team USA also held a wide advantage in shots (46-12).
Duggan's four goals are tied for second on the US team with Lamoureux and Natalie Darwitz, trailing only teammate Jenny Potter's team-leading six tallies.
Duggan's brother admitted that he and his family felt "a million different emotions swirling in your head" when yesterday's semifinal game was over.
"There are some people in my family who are already breaking down with happiness and can't believe the experiences that have already happened for Meghan," he said. "Then there are those like myself who always expected her to be in this position, but I'm still not totally grasping the total depth of the success she's having.
"What really captured it for me (yesterday) was my sister (Katelyn), my girlfriend (Kate Donoghue) and I were watching the game together in the stands, and when the clock wound down and the team leapt on (goalie Jessie Vetter), the Jumbotron again went directly to Meghan. The joy on her face in that moment is like nothing I had ever seen before.
"She's living her dream right now to get to this point — that's when it sunk in for me."