By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Mankato East/Loyola senior Maddie McCargar doesn’t remember if it was eighth or ninth grade when she had her last three-goal game, but she knows it’s been awhile.
On Tuesday at All Seasons Arena McCargar delivered another one, recording a hat trick and an assist in the Cougars’ 4-0 Big Nine Conference shutout of Owatonna. East/Loyola outshot the Huskies 38-22 to improve its record to 3-0.
“I thought we played pretty well as a team tonight,” McCargar said. “We were moving our feet well, and the defense did a nice job and Katie (Paulson) was great in goal. It’s kind of like we just picked up from where we left off last year.”
McCargar’s first goal came at 6:21 of the opening period when she took a pass from Rebekah Kolstad down low and lifted a backhander past goaltender Jessica Cole. McCargar added two more goals in the second as she popped another one in from directly in front at the 3:32 mark and then scored on the payoff end of a 2-on-1 break with Ali Schreiber who found her breaking down the slot.
“We wanted to control the puck as much as we could tonight,” East/Loyola head coach Nate Fuller said. “We kept the pressure on and got solid play from our defense. Katie made some really nice saves for us.”
Paulson stopped all 22 shots, staving off a 5-on-3 opportunity by Owatonna for nearly a minute in the third period.
“I wanted the shutout, but the main thing was we got the win,” Paulson said. “I thought I played pretty well. I spent a lot of time in the offseason going to camps so I think I’ve improved since last year.”
The Cougars’ final goal was an empty-netter with eight seconds remaining. Amanda Broman slid the puck into the open goal with assists from McCargar and Savannah Quandt.
“We just need to keep it up,” McCargar said. “We’re playing well, but there’s always room for improvement.”
East/Loyola (3-0) is back in action Tuesday with another Big Nine Conference game at Faribault. Starting time is 7:30 p.m.