Girls Hockey Class A State Tournament

By: Jackson Boline

Orono celebrates as they take down Willmar 4-1, and advance to the Semifinals. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

Quarterfinal Round 

No. 2 Seed Orono 4, Willmar 1

The No. 2 Seed Orono Spartans (20-6-1) return to the State Tournament for the third straight year, matching up with Willmar (20-7-0), a random draw.  

Orono who ranked No. 2A in our Let’s Play Hockey rankings to end the regular season, came within one game of winning their program’s first State title last season so they have their eyes set on another title game appearance.

Zoe Lopez scored Orono’s second goal in the first period. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

The Spartans struck first in the game against Willmar when Maddie Kimbrel worked herself into the high slot, showing her quick release and scoring her 26th goal this season. The Sophomore now has scored 26-15-41 for the Spartans. The Cardinals Erin Eilers made things difficult for Orono, doing her best to keep the Cardinals in the game, but Orono’s relentless pursuit in the offensive zone paid off. Minnesota State-Mankato commit Zoe Lopez added another goal for Orono to make it 2-0. Lopez scored with just 24 seconds remaining in the first period, as they held a 2-0 lead after one. 

 

The Second period was all about Eilers, who kept the Cardinals within reach, stopping all 11 shots she faced in the frame. Orono led 26-7 in shots after two periods of play. Eilers has been one of, if not Willmar’s best player this season, going 20-7-0, 1.44 GAA, a .933 Sv% and she had eight shutouts. 

Erin Eilers stopped 33 of 38 in net for Willmar in the Cardinals’ loss to Orono. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

Orono looked to add to their lead in the third period, and that’s what they did, getting a goal from Anika Fortin, assisted by Alex Christian. Fortin scored her sixth goal of her Junior season. 

Willmar finally got on the board, when Lauren Eilers snuck it past Vivienne Anderson with the backhand. The Cardinals had some life, getting back within two goals. Eilers scored her 16th goal in her Junior season. 

After a disallowed Orono goal, Willmar pulled their netminder, but the Spartans sent it into the open net. Grace Bickett scored her ninth goal of the season to secure the 4-1 win and advance to play the winner of No. 3 Seed Dodge County and Fergus Falls. The Spartans outshot the Cardinals 38-12. Anderson stopped 11 of 12 in net for Orono. Eilers stopped 33 of 38 for Willmar. 

Orono improved to 21-6-1 on the season and their search for a state title stays alive.