Heading into Thursday’s Class 2A quarterfinal, Hill-Murray defenseman Mekenzie Steffen knew how important it would be to shut down Eastview star Natalie Snodgrass. The two had played together on the national under-18 team, giving Steffen a first-hand view of what Snodgrass could do.
While Hill-Murray’s high-powered offense supplied the firepower in a 6-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center, its stout defense was equally critical. The Pioneers (23-5) stopped Snodgrass on a breakaway early in the game, and they never let the Lightning’s leading scorer out of their sight. Eastview (14-13-2) was outshot 38-14 and did not score until Hill-Murray had rolled to a 4-0 lead.
Laura Anderson scored twice for Hill-Murray, the No. 2 seed and defending champion, and Steffen contributed a goal to go with her shutdown defense.
“As the game went on, we got better and better,’’ Steffen said. “And we made sure to watch [Snodgrass] all game. We did a good job not only on her, but defending the rest of the team.’’
Lexi Klein and Rebecca Zarembinski staked Hill-Murray to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and Steffen scored with 5.3 seconds left in the second. Anderson made it 4-0 early in the third period before Eastview’s Cassidy Leininger scored on a power play.
Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser said his team started slowly this year but has steadily improved. “We’re peaking at the right time,’’ Anderson said.