SCHOFIELD - There is no such thing as a moral victory in sports. If ever there was that one instance of a moral victory, Tuesday nights girls hockey sectional semi matchup may the definition of that.
After coming off a hard-fought regional final win against Rhinelander, the Stars headed to Schofield to take on the defending state champs Central Wisconsin Storm with a sectional final spot on the line. After losing rather handily twice during the regular season and being ousted 8-1 to this same team in the playoffs last year, the Stars were eager to pull an upset and look to continue their season.
It was all about the goaltending in this one as both Chloe Westberg and Hattie Berndt stopped all 42 shots in regulation sending things into overtime. It was one shot in the extra period that proved to be the difference as the Storm continued their quest at a repeat following the 1-0 overtime win.
“This is a heartbreaking loss, but a fabulous effort from the girls tonight,” Head Coach Jeff Fox said. “That team is the defending state champions and knocked us out of the playoffs 8-1 last year. Not to mention they handled us twice during the regular season this year. To get so close only to come up one goal short certainly stings, but it just goes to show how hard this team has worked to improve this year.”
One of the biggest reasons for so many lopsided defeats to this team, was the Stars inability to keep the Storm off the scoreboard early. In an effort to change that, Fox Cities game out with an aggressive nature as the offense got some decent looks on goal. The Stars best chance at a goal came five minutes into the game, when Kristin Deffner was called for hooking giving Fox Cities a one skater advantage. Unfortunately, the Stars couldn’t capitalize as chances were minimal after that and 0-0 after one period of play.
The second period was the exact opposite as it was the Storms' chance to come out strong. Despite ripping 11 of their 29 total shots in that period, Berndt wouldn’t break down as she kept things tied coming up with huge save after huge save. Just like the Stars in the first period, the Storm had a golden chance to grab the lead three minutes in after Claire Calkins was called for hooking giving Central Wisconsin a one-player advantage. No damage would come of that, as the two teams remained scoreless 0-0.
With the score still tied at zero and one period to go, both teams were looking for the spark to give them the momentum swing they needed. However, that spark came from Berndt in goal as once again the Storm dominated that period of play, but put up nothing to show for it. As the period went on, the Stars were still searching for some offense as they struggled to find open looks on goal. Once they did have one of those looks, they were unable to capitalize as the two teams headed into overtime tied 0-0.
With 51 minutes of scoreless hockey already gone by, both teams knew what was at stake in the extra frame as the next goal would send someone to the sectional final.
Unfortunately for Fox Cities, that someone was the Storm as they wasted little time picking up that elusive first goal. It took just over a minute to happen, but Central Wisconsin needed only one shot to put the game away. It came off the stick of Kiley Hahner, as that shot was the game-winner lifting the Storm to the 1-0 win and sending the Stars home with a heartbreaking defeat.