PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Chloe Kinsel and Katie Batters combined for five points and Wisconsin-River Falls built an early advantage, paving the way to a 5-3 win over St. Thomas in the third-place game at the NCAA Division III women’s championships at the Stafford Ice Arena.
For River Falls coach Joe Cranston, the experience of being in the final four for the first time was “awesome.”
“To come out and play like we did and score five goals on one of the best goalies in the country, I though we did a great job,” said Cranston. “Third place in the country is a lot higher than we’ve done. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Kinsel opened the scoring for the Falcons 8:34 into the first, beating Tommies’ goalie Alise Riedel for her 17th goal of the season. Kinsel’s score arrived in the form of guiding her own rebound past Riedel from close range.
Just 2:09 later, Kait Mason, with helpers from Batters and Kinsel, advanced the score to 2-0.
Prior to Kinsel’s initial tally, Riedel had not allowed a goal in regulation for a span of 204 minutes. Riedel, who dropped her record to 18-3-3 with the loss, had accumulated 118 saves in the streak as well.
Batters provided additional daylight in terms of the score midway through the middle period while the Falcons were on the power play. Brook Story initiated the sequence from behind the St. Thomas cage, eyeing Batters alone in the slot, before delivering a pinpoint feed to the senior forward who one-timed it by Riedel.
“The thing with us is we’ve been having fun since our freshman year,” said Batters, speaking for the core of River Falls seniors. “We always thought that by having fun, we would always play our best games. Tonight, everyone was motivated and it was fun.”
St. Thomas (20-7-3) answered with a marker from Courtney Umland late in the second period, but the Falcons put the Tommies in a difficult situation by scoring consecutive goals in a narrow span to push their lead to 5-1.
Karina Maretta registered her sixth goal of the season, a power-play score, at 5:18 of the third, narrowing the River Falls edge to 5-2 when her wrist shot from between the circles flashed by Falcons goalie Ashley Kuechle.
Christina Rozeske closed out the scoring for St. Thomas with a power-play goal with 14 seconds remaining in the game.
“They cashed in on our early mistakes and we weren’t able to capitalize on our opportunities, ” said St. Thomas coach Tom Palkowski. “It’s tough to do, losing a game like we did last night [1-0 loss in overtime to Plattsburgh], but our kids were resilient.”
The Falcons finished at 23-5-3.
“This might be the best team we’ve ever had,” Cranston beamed. “What a good opportunity to end this season with a win.”