Ohio State will defend its national title after defeating Northeastern 3-0 in a NCAA women’s Frozen Four semifinal Friday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota.
Wisconsin topped Minnesota 3-2 in a come-from-behind overtime win in the second semifinal matchup and will meet Ohio State in Sunday’s final.
The Buckeyes could become the first back-to-back national champions since Wisconsin won in 2019 and 2021. The Badgers would earn their seventh national title with a victory. Puck drop Sunday is at 4 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN+.
The top-seeded Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead when freshman forward Sloane Matthews scored 1:16 into the first period. No. 5 Northeastern remained on its heels — not registering a shot on goal until midway through the period — until forward Chloe Aurard found the back of the net. Aurard’s goal was swiftly called back, though, because of a hand pass, and Ohio State carried a 1-0 lead into the second period.
Northeastern had a golden opportunity midway through the middle frame to tie things up on an extended 5-on-3 power play but failed to find an equalizer. An emboldened Ohio State then got back on the attack, and junior forward Makenna Webster put the Buckeyes up 2-0 in the latter half of the period. Senior defenseman Hadley Hartmetz delivered another goal for Ohio State in the final two minutes, putting the Buckeyes ahead 3-0 going into the third.
That was the first time Northeastern — with the nation’s top-ranked defense — allowed three goals in a game since Nov. 15.
Huskies senior netminder Gwyneth Philips, who finished with 50 saves, stood tall in the third making key stops. But Northeastern’s offense came up short again, including on a late-period power play, leaving Matthews’ first-period marker as the game winner.
Buckeyes goalie Amanda Thiele made 15 stops to produce her fourth shutout of the season.
There was another fast start when No. 2 Minnesota took on unseeded Wisconsin. Minnesota fifth-year forward Taylor Heise, the reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner as the nation’s top female player, scored 3:23 into the first period to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead. It was Heise’s Division I-leading 30th goal of the season.
Minnesota was 27-2-1 when scoring first this season.
The Gophers carried their 1-0 advantage into the second period, when Wisconsin immediately put the pressure on their offensive attack. Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle was called for goalie interference to send Wisconsin onto a power play that was quickly negated by a tripping penalty on the Badgers’ Nicole Lamantia. Neither side could break through at 4-on-4, and Minnesota went into the third with its one-goal lead intact.
It was there that the ice tipped in Wisconsin’s favor. The Badgers got on the board when freshman forward Laila Edwards broke through with 13:28 to play in regulation; forward Sophie Shirley followed up less than a minute later to put Wisconsin up 2-1.
Minnesota, now in its first deficit of the night, took a timeout to regroup. The Gophers pushed hard from there, and it was Zumwinkle who came through with a tying goal late in the third to force overtime.
Both sides traded chances in the extra frame until Badgers freshman defender Caroline Harvey scored with 3:13 left in overtime to punch Wisconsin’s ticket to the final.