Pioneers' Wemple supplies usual defense, bonus offense vs. Lightning

Hill-Murray senior Taylor Wemple considers herself a solid defenseman at her best when thwarting opposing forwards.

One metro-area coach joked Wemple's stick seems 20 feet long at times. Reach and defensive awareness have Wemple headed to North Dakota. But there's more to her game, as Eastview learned in a 4-1 Class 2A quarterfinal loss.

"I think I have a nice shot," said Wemple, who used it to score twice in the first period Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

No. 3 seed Hill-Murray (24-4-1) took a 1-0 lead on a Wemple shot accidentally tipped in by an Eastview player. The Lightning drew even on a Natalie Snodgrass power-play goal at 10:06 of the opening period. Then Wemple sent a puck through clean at 14:47 for a 2-1 lead for the Pioneers at first intermission.

"I'm not a huge goal scorer," Wemple said. "Usually when I shoot the puck, I just kind of throw it on the net and hope one of the forwards can hit it."

Wemple's eighth and ninth goals this season, coupled with her efforts to slow the dangerous Snodgrass, helped Hill-Murray advance.

An additional Eastview (16-11-2) miscue resulted in an own goal in the second period. A Lightning player inadvertently swept the puck into the net.

"I tell the kids things like that happen," Eastview coach Herb Harvey said. "It's tough for the kid, but it's not the biggest mistake of her life."

The goal was credited to Hill-Murray's Nina Steigauf. The Pioneers' Morgan Helgeson added a goal for a 4-1 lead after two periods. Goaltender Ava Bailey stopped 17 of 18 Eastview shots.