PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Wisconsin-River Falls set history on Saturday when it topped St. Thomas (Minn.) 5-3 to finish third in the 2014 NCAA championships.
The Falcons have played in seven championship series. In 2003 and ’09 the Falcons advanced to the semifinals but lost both games each year.
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This was an awesome experience — it always is,” Falcon coach Joe Cranston said. “To play the way we did and to score five goals against one of the best goalies in the country is great. Third place is the best we’ve ever done and we are very proud of that.”
The Falcons jumped ahead scoring twice in the first period. UWRF had an early power play when St. Thomas was called for tripping. UWRF had two shots on goal but could not take advantage of the opportunity.
That changed at 8:34 Chloe Kinsel put the Falcons on the score board with her team-best 17th goal of the year. She took the initial shot that was saved, but gathered in the rebound and beat UST goalie Alise Riedel from right in front.
“I have big shoes to fill with the seniors leaving,” Kinsel said. “This experience has been amazing and finishing third makes it even better.” Kinsel was recognized for her play in the tournament by being named to the six-member all-tournament team.
The Falcons went ahead 2-0 when the line of Kinsel, Katie Batters and Kait Mason combined for a beautiful passing play and goal. Mason scored the goal at 10:43 with a one-timer that beat the St. Thomas goalie. It was Mason’s 14th goal of the season and Batters and Kinsel got the assists on a play that had the three Falcons put on a passing and shooting clinic.
Falcon goalie Ashley Kuechle kept UST off the scoreboard when she made a save on a UST breakaway with about five minutes left in the first period.
Falcon Sam Greeley took a holding the stick penalty at 16:53, but the Falcon penalty kill units did their jobs and limited UST to just one shot on goal.
The Falcons had a 10-8 advantage in shots on goal in the period. Kinsel, Paige Johnson and Karleigh Wolkerstorfer each had two shots.
In the second period, the Falcons went on a power play at 13:10 and took just 39 seconds to go ahead 3-0. The Falcons set up in the offensive zone and Batters scored the power-play goal off a rebound from right in front at 13:49. It was Batters’ 17th goal of the year with Brook Story and Kinsel getting the assists. With the assist, Story is tied for third on the Falcons all-time scoring list with 99 points.
“The thing abour our senior class is that we have been having fun since our freshman season,” Batters said. “Our class is good at getting everyone motivated and having fun.”
Falcon Allie Olson was called for tripping at 14:15 and just as the penalty expired, St. Thomas scored its first goal of the game. The goal came from the point and found its way through a mass of players in front of the net. Courtney Umland was credited with the goal that came at 16:17
Once again the Falcons outshot their opponent — this time by a 13-9 margin. Kinsel had two shots and Brianna Breiland two in the period.
Defensemen Dani Buehrer and Allie Olson picked great times to score their first goals of the season. Buehrer scored at 2:52 and Olson at 4:16.
Buehrer scored unassisted and Olson was assisted by Alice Cranston. Buehrer’s shot looked like it was stopped by the UST goalie, but the shot had enough to make it into the goal. Olson’s goal came from the right circle that slipped under the UST goalie’s arm.
UWRF’s Wolkerstorfer took a minor penalty for tripping and St. Thomas took advantage of the opportunity. Karina Marette scored a power-play goal at 5:18 to make it a 5-2 game.
Kuechle came up big again with about four minutes left to play when a UST broke in alone. But Kuechle made the save and the Falcons kept the three-goal lead.
UWRF’s Cranston took a penalty with 2:14 to go in the period and UST was able to convert again while on the power play. Karina Marette scored the goal with just 14 seconds to play in the contest.
Kuechle finished the game with 24 saves. Kuechle finishes the year with a 19-3-3 record. The 19 wins set a Falcon record for wins in a season. Riedel stopped 28 shots for UST.