RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Wisconsin-River Falls piled on top of each other in celebration as the final buzzer sounded after beating Lake Forest 4-1 in the NCAA quarterfinal game at Hunt Arena this afternoon.
“We played really well from the start to the end,” Falcon head coach Joe Cranston said. “You could see after the game the emotion of the team and how much they wanted this win.
Both teams came out with a lot of energy early in the game. Just moments after the start Lake Forest went on the power play after a Kait Mason penalty. The Falcons penalty kill held strong and did not allow the Foresters to get just one shot on goal.
UWRF would follow the penalty kill getting a couple good scoring opportunities but nothing got past Lake Forest goalie, Stacey Dierking, who finished the game with 23 saves.
Later in the period Brianna Breiland raced to the puck in between the circles right after a faceoff and was able to score the first goal of the game at 13:04 of the first period. She now has 11 goals on the season. Breiland was the first of three freshmen to score in the game.
“It was huge to get scoring from three freshmen this late in the season,” Cranston said.
Lake Forest almost tied the game up when a rocket of a shot came from the nation’s leading scorer, Michelle Greeneway, but Falcon goalie Ashley Kuechle made the glove save.
Later in the period, UWRF would go on the power play and again had some good opportunities, including a one-timer in front of the net by Katie Batters who was back in action for the first time after missing two games. UWRF took nine shots compared to four by Lake Forest in the first period.
To start the second period UWRF had a chance to go up 2-0 but Dierking came diving across the net to knock the puck away. Within the first two minutes of the period Lake Forest committed two penalties giving the Falcons a five-on-three advantage for 1:25 but was able to kill the penalties.
Karleigh Wolkerstorfer scored a top shelf goal at 9:16 of the second period for her 11th of the season assisted by Jenna Ulberg and Leah Gefroh on the play.
At 10:50 of the period Chloe Kinsel and Brook Story had a nice give-and-go scoring play. Kinsel found Story with a cross-ice pass and Story lit the lamp with a wrister. Story is now just two points away from being the third all-time highest Falcon scorer in history.
Lake Forest took a timeout directly after the Falcons third goal and seemed to calm down the rest of the period. Greeneway had another opportunity to score with a slap shot directly in front of the net that Kuechle was able to get in front of. UWRF had 10 shots on goal compared to six by Lake Forest in the second period.
Just more than two minutes into the third period the Falcons went on the power play again but despite having the skater advantage it was Lake Forest that almost scored. They went in on a breakaway and had a two-on-one chance to score but Holly Lesperance just missed connecting on the one timer.
Isabel Regine also had an opportunity to score for Lake Forest when she went on a breakaway early in the third period but Kuechle snagged the puck out of the air with a high glove save.
Halfway through the period Wolkerstorfer almost netted her second goal of the game on a breakaway but had it stopped and got called for a slash directly after. Another Falcon penalty gave Lake Forest a five-on-three skater advantage for 1:47 but a strong penalty kill and a Lake Forest too many players on the ice call a minute later prevented Lake Forest from scoring on the opportunity.
Dani Sibley was able to score on the power-play chance for UWRF, assisted by Alice Cranston and Kinsel, at 11:45 of the third. UWRF went 1-for-5 on power play opportunities while Lake Forest went 0-for-3 on its chances.
Neither team got many more chances after the fourth Falcon goal. With just 24 seconds left in the game Alex Stensland scored a goal for Lake Forest. UWRF finished with 27 shots compared to 16 by Lake Forest.