Taylor Reese raises her arms after the final buzzer in Warroad’s 3-2 win over Academy of Holy Angels.

“Different” Warrior squad makes it back to title game

by Bryan Zollman

The 2024 version of the Warroad Warriors are quite a bit different from the 2023 version that captured the program’s second straight state title last season.

But lo and behold, they are in the same position, playing for the Class A State Championship.

The Warriors defeated top-seeded Academy of Holy Angels 3-2 in a hard-fought battle and will look to make it three state titles in a row when they face Dodge County tomorrow.

“The group has been resilient all year,” said Warroad Head Coach David Marvin. “It’s different watching this team than other teams. We’re not perfect but we have a chance to play for a championship tomorrow.”

It is quite a different team. Last season the Warriors had the top line in the state in Class A. Rylee Bartz, Talya Hendrickson and Kate Johnson combined for 135 goals. This season the entire Warroad team has scored 107. The 2023 squad outscored opponents on average of 6.97-1.63. This season it’s 3.69-1.69.

Friday’s semifinal was typical of this year’s version of the Warriors, a hard-fought 3-2 win.

It took until late in the first period for the Warriors to break a scoreless tie. Kaiya Sandy notched her 17th goal of the season as the Warriors carried a 1-0 lead into the second period. But Holy Angels answered when Bella LaMere scored to tie at the 7:11 mark of the second. After Warroad outshot the Stars 19-7 in the first period, the second period was more balanced with both teams getting equal chances. Warroad went up 2-1 on a goal by Jaylie French, her 21st, with just 1:14 left in the period.

But again the Stars answered, this time when Masyn Mullin received a great feed in front from Harper Poehling to tie the score 2-2.

Masyn Mullin tries to bury her second goal of the game, but is stopped by Peyton Rolli of Warroad. Mullin scored on a great feed from Harper Poehling to tie the game 2-2.

It took just 33 seconds for Warroad to respond when Taylor Reese tucked one home that proved to be the game winner. Holy Angels pulled their goalie, but Warroad held steady in their defensive zone and goaltender Peyton Rolli held on for the win, stopping 26 shots.

It was Holy Angels’ first trip to the semifinals since 2006. They were state champs in 2005.

“Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, I am proud of all of us,” said senior Emilie Anderson.

Holy Angels Head Coach Ryan LaMare said the loss was deflating, but was proud of his team and the way they played not just Friday afternoon, but all season.

“The girls battled,” he said. “Warroad is a great team. At this time of year whoever you play the margin of error is going to be small. It’s certainly hard when you end up on the wrong side, but the girls played a heck of a game.”

Holy Angels will battle Orono for third place tomorrow at 11 a.m..

Warroad will face No. 3-seed Dodge county in a North vs. South battle at 4 p.m.

They might have a bit of a different squad this year, but they’re hoping for the same result.