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A Warroad state title wasn't supposed to be in play this year.

But after making it back to the state final, why not?

"Izzy [coach David Marvin] just goes, 'Why not us?'" said junior Kaiya Sandy. "'Why not us? You know, why not us? We're this close.'

"Why not just push one more game. Why not just win?'"

That's exactly how it played out for No. 4 seed Warroad as it skated to a three-peat of Class 1A state championships with a 5-2 victory over Dodge County on Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.

It's the fifth title in 15 state tournament trips for Warroad, which was the top seed in Class 1A the past two years. Holy Angels had that seed this year, but Warroad knocked off the Stars in the semifinals. Warroad's string of three straight titles marks the second three-peat in Class 1A girls hockey. Breck did it in 2018-20.

The Warriors had to "get it done differently" this year, said assistant coach Layla Marvin. They brought a younger, less experienced team to St. Paul this time, having graduated 10 players (nine now playing college hockey) from last year's squad.

"No one was picking us this year," Layla Marvin said. "In the past couple years, we've had so much skill, and we've had two lines of Division I players. This year, we don't have that."

Instead, she pointed to "grit and determination."

Warroad fell behind 1-0 Saturday on Nora Carstensen's 35th goal of the season for third seed Dodge County. But the Warriors settled in nicely, answering with a pair of goals 54 seconds apart in the first period to take a 2-1 lead.

Warroad (22-8-0) kept its foot down in the second period, too. Less than three minutes in, Taylor Reese scored the first of her two goals in the game.

The bounces of hockey were not in Dodge County's favor, making its first appearance at state. The Wildcats (23-5-0) had a couple of close-call scoring chances late in the second period.

"That's just hockey," Dodge County coach Jeremy Gunderson said. "Sometimes you get them. … Sometimes you don't."


1. Taylor Reese, Warroad: Scored two goals in the title game, doubling her tournament total. The sophomore forward finished with 21 goals this season.

2. Kaiya Sandy, Warroad: Junior forward added one goal and two assists to the scoring mix.

3. Nora Carstensen, Dodge County: Became a trivia answer. The question: Who scored the first state championship game goal in Dodge County history? Carstensen scored the first goal of the game and finished with 35 for the season.

BOXSCORE: Warroad 5, Dodge County 2