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Girls hockey: Battered and bruised, Tigers fall in section tournament

Lakeville North was on the verge of knocking the numbers right off of Krystal Baumann's jersey Tuesday night.

Baumann, a junior who scored 41 goals during an injury-shortened 21-game season, was harassed by the Panthers throughout and held scoreless in Farmington's 5-3 loss in the Section 1AA semifinals at Lakeville North.

"We were just looking at it and the stitching on the numbers was coming off," Farmington coach Jon Holmes said of his star forward's jersey. "They were yelling 'body' every time she got the puck. You have to play her like that or she'll walk all over you."

The combination of the Panthers' physical defense and the larger playing surface at Lakeville North appeared to wear down the Farmington offense. The Tigers outshot the home team 11-10 in the opening period, then produced just 15 shots over the final two periods.

"It was tough. We tried not to play it up too much, but on an Olympic-sized sheet it's a totally different game and we weren't used to it," Holmes said. "No one in our conference has a rink like this and they're the only ones in the section, so it's an advantage to play on it every day."

The Panthers looked comfortable on their home ice from the start, scoring 21 seconds in on a goal by Christi Vetter. Seven minutes later Michelle Williams scored to make it 2-0 and for a moment it looked like the Tigers might be overmatched.

The score was still 2-0 just under five minutes later when the Missota Conference champions scored on a putback by Haley Doll to cut the deficit in half. Three minutes later, senior Angie Schull tacked on a second power play goal to even the score heading to the second.

Lakeville North got off to another fast start in the second period, finding the net just 38 seconds in. But the difference-maker ended up being Steph Hather's goal at the 5:29 mark. Hatcher flicked the puck into the air from near the blue line and it slipped past the glove of goaltender Jessica Erchul to make it 4-2.

The Tigers got back within a goal thanks to a Rachel Peroutky shot late in the second period, but they couldn't produce an equalizer over the final 21 minutes of action. The score remained 4-3 until the Panthers scored an empty-netter with 19.7 seconds left.

Erchul finished with 30 saves, while North's Dani Dexter had 26.

The loss ended the season for the Tigers, who went 18-8-1 and won the program's fifth Missota Conference championship in 12 years. Schull is the only senior who will graduate from this year's team.

"She is a fun kid, a great leader. She's always positive and smiling," Holmes said of Schull. "The upside is that everyone else is coming back."