Warroad celebrates as their hopes to win three straight state titles stay alive. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

Taylor Reese gets the game-winning goal as Warroad sneaks by Proctor/Hermantown in overtime

No. 4 Seed Warroad 1, No. 5 Seed Proctor/Hermantown 0

Warroad (19-8-0) returns to The X in search of a third straight Class A State Championship. The Warriors start their search for a three-peat against Proctor/Hermantown (18-8-2). The Mirage last faced the Warriors in their season-opening game when Warroad came away with a 2-1 win. 

The first period was as back and forth as it gets, as both the Mirage and Warriors exchanged a couple of good chances. Midway through the opening period, Warroad struck first on a lucky bounce to the back door. A shot from the point from Vivienne Marcowka bounced around the net and landed on Sophie Johnson’s stick for an open backdoor goal. The goal was Johnson’s ninth of the season, she has 12 assists to go along with that. The Warriors took a 1-0 lead into the second period after the Mirage led in shots 11-6. 

Taylor Reese shines in the spotlight, scoring the overtime winner for Warroad. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

The second period featured no goals, but it didn’t lack in action. The Warriors had plenty of good looks, including a breakaway chance by Kaiya Sandy that got denied by Mirage goalie Neelah McLeod. McLeod stopped 11 in the middle frame and Warriors Payton Rolli stopped all ten shots she faced, as Warroad held on to their 1-0 lead after two periods. 

The third period was more of the same from the second, both teams exchanged chances but neither could find the back of the net. That was until the Warriors got called for a late-period penalty which gave the Mirage the opportunity they needed. With 40 seconds remaining in the third period, Taylee Manion lasered a wrist shot from the point past Rolli, tying the game at 1-1 and sending the contest to overtime. 

Taylee Manion celebrates the game-tying goal as the Mirage sent the game to OT. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

In the overtime period, Warroad was in control of most of the frame. It paid off when a long stretch pass from Vivienne Marcowka found the stick of Kaiya Sandy who passed it to Taylor Reese for the game-winning goal. Reese scored her 18th goal on the season, and could potentially be the biggest goal this year. Marcowka had two assists and Sandy had one helper for the Warriors. Izzy Fairchild and Hailey Jussila both had the assist on Proctor/Hermantown’s lone goal. Rolli stopped 18 of 19 in net for Warroad. McLeod did everything she could in net for the Mirage, stopping 27 of 29. 

Neelah McLeod makes a save point-blank on Taylor Reese. PHOTO BY TIM KOLEHMAINEN/BREAKDOWN SPORTS

Warroad moved to 20-8-0 and has a date set with the No. 1 Seed Academy of Holy Angels on Friday at 1:00 p.m.