Forward Kayla Hill '10 opened up the offense for St. Olaf, scoring an even-strength goal at the 14:13 mark of the first period. Breanna Johnson '11 and Melissa Sailor '09 notched their first assists of the season on Hill's goal.
The St. Olaf defensive corps held their ground in the first period, successfully thwarting 16 Steven's Point shots. However, the Pointers continued to press in the second period and this time the shots found their marks.
"We got some good goaltending and strong team defense in the first and third periods," head coach John Bazzachini said. "[First-year Erin] McNamara played really well, and in women's hockey good goaltending is the name of the game."
The Oles gave up three straight Pointers goals in the second period and managed just five shots of their own. Forward Kim McClintick '10 fired two of her team-high three shots on goal in second period.
The first Pointer goal came after a St. Olaf line-change miscue in the neutral zone allowed the Pointer's top forward to get a clear break on net, Bazzachini said. Overall, the three goals came off fixable St. Olaf miscues or just unlucky bounces. "You can't crown yourself champion in a loss," Bazzachini said, "but I saw a lot of good things out there, too."
In the third period, the Oles drew back within one on Laura Wild's '08 power-play goal at the 10:47 mark. Fellow senior forwards Katie Bennett and Janae Fabini assisted on the goal.
In the end, the women could not muster enough offensive firepower to tie the game, landing just three shots on goal in the third period to the Pointers' eight. McNamara saw plenty of action in her collegiate debut. McNamara made 31 saves in the game, with UW-Steven's point out-shooting St. Olaf 34 to 12.
Part of the Oles' offensive shortcoming in Friday's opener stems from the loss of their All-American forward duo of Susannah Brokl and Lindsay Boeser. The team's top two scorers, both last season and in school history, combined for 77 points on 33 goals and 44 assists.
This season, the Oles will focus heavily on strong team defense and rely on a more balanced scoring attack. Seniors Wild, Bennet and Fabini will provide leadership for St. Olaf's offense this season as it looks to repeat last season's second-place MIAC finish.
St. Olaf will open official MIAC play next weekend against Augsburg College. Last season, the Oles went 1-0-1 against the Auggies, scoring 11 goals on the weekend. Friday's game will be held at the Northfield Ice Arena and Saturday's will be played at Augsburg. The puck drops at 7 p.m. both nights.