Streaking Tigers Blank South to Reach Section Finals
By Pat Rupp
Farmington coach Jon Holmes has said all season that his team was focusing on the post-season and after Saturday night’s shellacking of Lakeville South in the Section 1AA semifinals the Tigers seem to be peaking at just the right time.
Farmington used a potent offense, a suffocating defense and solid goaltending to blank the Cougars 8-0 at Schmitz-Maki Arena to earn a spot in next Thursday’s section championship game against Lakeville North at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna.
“This year has been a great example of focusing on February and the post-season,” Holmes said. “On day one, and purposefully every day after, we talked a lot about why we do what we do, and how we can honor that every day with hardworking habits, strong minds, and consistent and dependable preparation.
“This team has committed to the process whole heartedly and is proving how ready they are for the post-season and most importantly life in and outside of it.”
The Tigers had beaten the Cougars twice during the regular season, 5-2 and 3-0, but this one was no contest.
Bailey Kelley (from Jayden Seifert and Carly Lancaster) and Izzy Zwart (from (Seifert) got the rout going with first period goals to open the scoring floodgates.
The second period featured even more Farmington dominance with Kelley (from Abby Gehrke), Zwart (from Grace Auge) and Carly Lancaster (from Jenna Gerold) all finding the twine to build a five-goal lead heading to the final frame.
Auge (from Bailey Zimmer and Madison Tonsager), Zimmer (from Auge) and Claire Enright scored goals over the final 17 minutes to add the icing to the victory cake.
Farmington outshot South 31-4 over the final two periods and 46-11 for the game.
“We played a complete game,” Holmes said. “Having our seniors on the ice rather than on the bench has been huge in the section. Our team that has been working hard and gaining valuable experience all season has now gotten the added bonus of even more experience and veteran presence.
“Our defensive zone is getting tightened up nicely and we are doing a great job of limiting the play of opponents inside the dots while also really taking away any sort of second chances. Our defense led by Cassie Knutson has been getting better every day and giving us a calming presence.
“Olivia Helleson has also been really playing well the past two weeks and couple that with Brenna Fuhrman and Jayden Seifert, two of the top defenders in the state, and it helps our forwards really concentrate on their roles to take away added threats and make transitions quickly.”
Goaltender Ryleigh Furlong, who recorded her second consecutive post-season shutout, also earned positive words from her coach.
“She has gotten better every practice and every outing,” Holmes said. “Ryleigh is seeing the play in front of her much clearer and against South she again played confidently, making some great saves early to keep the momentum on our side.”
The Tigers now turn their attention to a familiar foe, South Suburban Conference rival, Lakeville North, a 5-2 winner over Dodge County in its semifinal game. The teams played twice during the regular season with Farmington prevailing in both 4-2 and 2-0.
When asked about playing fellow conference members in both Lakeville South and North for a third time Holmes said, “We are used to playing the Lakeville teams three or even four times a year,” he said. “I think for a young team it makes the game more real because we know the emotions and the excitement that goes along with playing a boarder battle. “
The winner of Thursday’s title game moves on to the following week’s Class AA state tournament in St. Paul. Farmington teams have advanced to state five times in school history, the last time in 2017.