Keen game observation and film study of Hill-Murray revealed an opportunity, and when Eagan's Taylor Anderson got the chance in real time, she pounced.
Anderson intercepted an attempted breakout pass by the Pioneers and converted for the game-winning goal in Eagan's 2-1 upset victory Thursday in the Class 2A girls' hockey quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center.
Eagan's defeat of third-seeded Hill-Murray broke a 25-game winning streak in the quarterfinals by higher-seeded teams.
"We were watching them try to do that stretch pass," Anderson said. "I figured, get up there and cut it off and I might have a breakaway and that's exactly what happened."
Not exactly. An alert Hill-Murray (24-5) defender tried thwarting Anderson's rush.
"I knew I wouldn't get a good shot; she'd block it," Anderson said. "So I had to make a quick move."
Anderson's goal came with 24 seconds left in the second period. Ahead by two goals, Eagan (23-5-2) traded aggressive defense for a more controlled approach.
Hill-Murray outshot the Wildcats 13-2 in the third period but got only a Kennedy Morris goal. The Pioneers also had a goal waved off because the puck was kicked.
Pioneers coach Bill Schafhauser had never lost in six previous state tournament quarterfinal games.
"It was tough to know what to say after the game," he said. "I never had to make that speech. Eagan played awesome. If we would have played the first and second period like we did in the third, it might have been a better outcome. But it ended up being too late."
David La Vaque