Senior Juliana Strother’s fine goaltending and freshman Zoe Neudorfer’s third period goal led the University School co-op girls hockey team to a 1-0 victory over the Onalaska co-op on Friday, February 9th at the Omni Center in Onalaska.
It was Neudorfer’s first varsity goal. After the game, Neudorfer smiled and said, “I was so excited to get my first varsity goal, and it made it more special being a game winner.”
Both Strother and Onalaska’s senior goalie, Clare Bekkun played well. Each made some sensational saves stopping breakaways, straight on shots from the slot, and shots punched at the net during scrambles around the crease. Strother stopped all 15 shots put on net by the Hilltoppers. Bekkun stopped 25 of the 26 shots the Wildcats fired her way.
Neudorfer scored her goal early in the first period. As the Wildcats forechecked, junior Lexie Epperson got the puck behind the Onalaska net and passed it out front. The puck slid out to the high slot where senior defenseman Hannah Gold caught it then fired a low shot at the net. The incoming puck hit Epperson’s stick and rebounded to Neudorfer. Neudorfer swiftly backhanded it past Bekkun at 1:18.
The Hilltoppers kept fighting and pressured the Wildcats in their zone, especially in the final moments as the clock ticked down. But Strother and her teammates fended off every Onalaska attempt and were able to take a long bus ride back to Milwaukee with a win.
After the game, Gold, who is one of USM’s captains, said, “Overall it was a well fought game. We had a lot of rebound opportunities, and we were able to take hold of one of them. It's a good way to end the regular season. I'm excited to see what we can do for playoffs.”
It was the final game of the regular season. Onalaska ended it with an 11-12-1 record. The Hilltoppers open state tournament playoff play with a game against the Middleton Metro Lynx at the Omni Center at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16th.
USM finished the regular season with a 16-8 record. At 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20th, the Wildcats will face the winner of the playoff playoff game between Brookfield and Arrowhead.