Ohio State will defend its national title after defeating Northeastern 3-0 in the NCAA women’s Frozen Four semifinal on Friday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota. Wisconsin topped Minnesota 3-2 in a come-from-behind overtime win during the night’s 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 on Sunday is 4 p.m. with coverage on ESPN+.
It was No. 1 Ohio State versus No. 5 Northeastern facing off in the afternoon semi. The Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead when freshman forward Sloane Matthews scored just 1:16 into the first period. Northeastern remained on its heels — not registering a shot on goal even 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-against 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’s fifth year forward Taylor Heise, the reigning Patty Kazmaier award winner as the nation’s top female player, scored just 3:23 into the first period to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead. It was Heise’s league-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, where 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 the Badgers’ Nicole Lamantia being tagged for tripping. 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.