BALDWIN — A goal late in the third period was the difference as the Somerset boys hockey team nipped Eau Claire Regis/Altoona/McDonell 2-1 on Friday evening in a Division 2 sectional final to advance to state.
Noah Bailey found the back of the net for the Spartans with 1:57 remaining in the third to put Somerset in front by one. The Rams had a chance to even the game late with a power-play opportunity but were unable to net the equalizer as the Spartans (15-11-1) return to state after Somerset qualified for the Division 2 state tournament a season ago.
Owen McDonough opened the scoring for the Spartans with less than three minutes remaining in the first period on a wrap-around goal to put his team in front 1-0. But that lead didn't last long as Peyton Mayer knotted the game up with less than a minute to go in the first on an assist from Drew Goettl and Elijah Schmidt.
The score stayed that way for nearly two more full periods until Bailey's go-ahead goal.
Friday's game was the third one-goal contest in as many postseason games for the Rams (10-12), who opened the playoffs with a 5-4 win at West Salem in the regional finals before upending top-seeded Baldwin-Woodville 7-6 on Tuesday in the sectional semis.
Somerset joins Superior as a state qualifier with Friday wins while two more state berths will be won on Saturday.