With an undefeated season and the pursuit of a third consecutive state championship at stake, it might seem understandable if Hill-Murray came out nervous or even uptight Thursday against Sartell-Sauk Rapids.

But this is a veteran group, and the Pioneers have been through the trials of the state tournament before.

So in the first period, when the Pioneers were controlling the puck but not scoring on a strong Sartell/Sauk Rapids defense, there was no panic.

Laura Anderson broke through with a circuslike sling into the net 15 minutes into the opening period.

Kate Smith then scored with 11 seconds left in the first, and Hill-Murray went on to a 5-0 victory in the Class 2A girls' hockey quarterfinals.

"You're going to get tired playing on your end of the rink for so long, and that's when some breakdowns happen," said coach Marty Anderson of Sartell/Sauk Rapids (21-8).

"I think we saw some goals go in, but I thought overall we played very well defensively against a very good offensive team."

Hill-Murray (28-0-1) also got goals from Abigal Boreen, Haylee Blinkhorn and Jac Kaasa. The Pioneers played solid defense in support of goalie Mari Johnson as well, finishing with a 50-9 shots on goal advantage.

"They're mature kids," Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser said. "They've done a great job of managing our expectations this year.

"We really haven't talked about [going undefeated] that much. … With nine seniors who have been through, they get it."

Cody Stavenhagen