A strong third period and Lauren Kaufman's hat trick helped Maple Grove beat Lakeville South 4-1 on Thursday in the Class 2A quarterfinals, but the game never seemed that lopsided.
In what had been a deadlocked game for two periods, fourth-seeded Maple Grove got the big break against fifth-seeded Lakeville South early in the third when Maia Martinez passed to Kaufman in the open ice. Kaufman made a savvy pass to Taylor Wente in the slot, and after a quick deke and flick of the wrist, Wente scored to put her team up 2-1.
"I think both teams had a chance to break it open," Lakeville South coach Mark Johnson said. "It was like the next goal won. … It was just a fast break, and all of a sudden, bam."
In what was still a tight contest, Maple Grove got two more goals from Kaufman in the period to seal the victory.
"We've had a tough schedule that made them understand that they were going to need to play 51 minutes and that sometimes things weren't going to go our way," Maple Grove coach Amber Hegland said. "We just had to push through it and believe."
Halle Gill scored for Lakeville South in the first as did Kaufman for Maple Grove with 1:20 left.
But strong goalie play dictated the game throughout. Maple Grove's Coco Francis had 31 saves, and Lakeville South's Chloe Crosby 32.
Maple Grove advances to face two-time defending state champion Hill-Murray in Friday's semifinals.