Both Hill-Murray and Edina saw opportunities to score on third-period power plays. Only the Pioneers (24-5) converted, however, earning a 2-1 victory in a Class A semifinal Friday and the chance to defend their state title.

Laura Anderson’s rebound goal with less than five minutes left made Edina pay for its five-minute major penalty.

“It was a great shot from the point and I turned around to see the puck and an empty net,” Anderson said. “I was hoping I wouldn’t whiff.”

Postgame laughs came easy. But Edina’s two-man advantage for the final 1 minute, 44 seconds of the game made the tension palpable. Edina coach Laura Slominski believed her team would tie and likely force overtime. The equalizer never came.

Edina (21-8-1) trailed 1-0 until Taylor Williamson, the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, tied the game with a great individual effort. She got three chances near the Hill-Murray goal and finished the third.

Momentum swung Hill-Murray’s way after Williamson was whistled for contact to the head and received a five-minute major penalty. Slominski grieved for all her players after the loss, particularly Williamson.

“When a kid is sitting in the penalty box it’s tough on them,” Slominski said. “But I reminded Taylor that we wouldn’t be where we are without her.”

A Hill-Murray players-only meeting earlier in the day helped create a collective focus.

“Our saying is, ‘Perfect effort,’ ” Anderson said.

DAVID LA VAQUE