By Nick Gerhardt
Northfield senior winger Emerson Garlie likes to camp out around opponents’ goal crease. She gets rewarded with goals and she also takes a lot of punishment for going to those tough areas.
Garlie received both of those things when she scored the game-winning overtime goal Saturday against Owatonna in the Section 1AA semifinals at Northfield Ice Arena to lift the Raiders to an almost improbable 2-1 victory.
Top-seeded Northfield (26-1) scored with 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in overtime with Garlie’s power-play goal to earn a return trip to the Section 1AA championship game. Garlie stood near the right side of the Huskies’ goal when senior center Ayla Puppe sent a shot toward the net from the slot. Garlie pounced on the rebound and scored. Garlie crumbled to the ice after scoring the goal when Owatonna’s Morgan Macy delivered a hit to her head.
The No. 8-ranked Raiders needed nearly every second of regulation to force overtime. Sophomore defender Mia Miller scored a rebound goal with a shot through traffic in front of the fifth-seeded Huskies’ goal with 59 seconds left and goalie Macy Mueller on the bench for an extra attacker.
Northfield trailed 1-0 after Owatonna junior forward Averi Vetsch slammed in a short-side shot with 5:05 left in the second period.
The Raiders finished with 41 shots on goal and had several quality scoring chances that failed to find the net. The Huskies packed things in defensively while blocking many shots through the game. Owatonna finished with 33 shots on goal and Mueller picked up her 26th victory of the season. Mueller set a new state record for wins in a season after Northfield defeated Austin 18-0 Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
The Raiders will face second-seeded and No. 12-ranked Lakeville South (21-3-3) with a state tournament berth on the line Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Owatonna at the Four Seasons Centre. Northfield defeated the Cougars 5-2 last year in the Section 1AA semifinals before losing to Lakeville North 5-3 in the title game. The Panthers have since moved to Section 3AA. Lakeville South defeated third-seeded Farmington 3-0 Saturday to advance to this year’s title game.