The Eagan girls hockey team had no trouble fighting back from early deficits to defeat Rosemount and Hastings in the section playoffs. But the Wildcats' trademark late-game rally was not in sight during the Class 2A state hockey quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.
Third-ranked Hill-Murray overpowered Eagan 6-2, after scoring four goals in the third period at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wildcats will play Forest Lake in a consolation game at 10 a.m. on Friday at the University of Minnesota's Ridder Arena.
Eagan got off to a slow start in the first period, trailing 1-0 after the Pioneers' Jac Kaasa scored three minutes into the game.
But the momentum began to turn in the Wildcats' favor at the onset of the second period. Wildcats senior forward Megan Wolfe tied the game when she broke through the Hill-Murray defense to score an unassisted goal 6:31 into the second period.
That's as close as the Wildcats got. Despite out-shooting Hill-Murray 8-5 in the second period, Eagan let another goal through following a pile-up in front of the net. The Pioneers applied the gas in the the third period, scoring four goals—including one on an empty net—while Eagan's Brooke Madsen added a single goal to Eagan's tally.
"We didn't really challenge it enough, and I think we probably beat ourselves more than we got beat," Eagan coach Tom Younghans said after the game. "They out-hustled us, they beat us to the puck, and that was one of our issues throughout the whole game, moving our legs."
"I though we played pretty well in the first, played with a lot of energy and speed," Hill-Murray head coach Bill Schafhauser said. "No idea what happened in the second. To Eagan's credit, obviously, they made some adjustments and kind of took it to us and didn't react very well."
Eagan had a total of 21 shots to Hill-Murray's 27. Wildcats goalie Sophia Lundquist made 21 saves, while the Pioneer's Alexys Woodward made 19 saves.
"I think they had a really good forecheck so it's hard to break out a lot," Wolfe said. "They were breaking pretty quickly, too."
Click here to see photos from Thursday's game.