The 2019 and 2020 champion Fox Cities Stars were back in WIAA State Tournament action Wednesday after missing the tournament last season. The top seeded Stars squared off against the Onalaska Hilltoppers making their first trip to the state tournament since 2015 the end of a string of four straight appearances.
The Stars would end up out shooting the Hilltoppers 31-19 in this semifinal but they were only able to net one goal and the Hilltoppers popped in three to advance to their first championship game since 2014.
After a scoreless first period, Onalaska opened the scoring at 2:52 of the second period. Kiya Bronston carried the puck around the net. A Stars defender knocked it off her stick but she recovered and finished going around the net and hit Anna Syzmanski in front for the one-timer goal.
The game remained 1-0 for the next 12 minutes, but the final minute of the period saw a lot of action. Down 5-on-3 the Stars played incredibly aggressively on the penalty kill and it paid off. McKayla Zilisch found Grace Rentmeester in the faceoff circle. Rentmeester took her time, settled the puck and fired it in to make it 1-1.
Unfortunately for the Stars the Hilltoppers were still on the power play and they capitalized just 11 seconds after the Fox Cities goal to make it 2-1, and again it was Syzmanski from Rentmeester to make it 2-1 at the end of two periods.
The Stars were doing everything right. They were controlling the puck, they lead in time of possession, shots, and scoring chances. Unfortunately for them they weren’t able to crack Diana Hanson again and an empty netter by Tessa Deal made it a 3-1 Onalaska victory.
Hanson had 30 saves in the win for the Hilltoppers. Ella Sciborski had 16 in the loss for the Stars. The Hilltoppers will face the winner of Central Wisconsin and Madison Metro on Saturday.