Hockey: Alexandria alum Mayson Toft wins another NCAA title with the Wisconsin Badgers
Lowry native and former Alexandria girls hockey standout Mayson Toft reached the mountaintop of college hockey once again with the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday as Wisconsin won the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament Championship Game over Ohio State.
When the Wisconsin women's hockey team won the 2021 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Tournament , Lowry native and Alexandria alum (Class of 2020), Mayson Toft was a freshman at the time and described the experience as surreal.
And after Toft and the sixth-seeded Badgers beat the top-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, 1-0, to win the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 19, in Duluth, Toft said there are no words that could describe the experience of winning another NCAA title.
"There are no words to describe it; it was a super amazing experience, and it just felt like a dream," Toft said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. "I'm just excited that I got to share this moment with my teammates."
Toft said that when they won the NCAA title in 2021, her freshman season, she was in shock.
But after winning the NCAA title in junior season, Toft's reaction after the final buzzer sounded was emotional.
"I was more emotional this time," Toft said. "It just didn't feel real at first because not a lot of girls even get the opportunity to win one, so to win two is amazing."
Toft is a defender who helped shut out the Ohio State offense in Sunday's win to seal Wisconsin's seventh NCAA title.
Wisconsin's title-sealing goal came in the first period as a shot by Plymouth, Michigan native Kirsten Simms found the back of the net (assists by Britta Curl and Nicole LaMantia) with 7:32 left in the period.
The game was neck-and-neck throughout, but when the dust settled, the Badgers hoisted up the championship trophy.
"It was a pretty back-and-forth game throughout, and we knew it would," Toft said. "We knew Ohio State had a very good team, but so did we. I think we just knew that if we went out there and played our game that, we could get the job done."
The Badgers went 1-3 against the Buckeyes in the regular season but beat the Buckeyes, who were the defending national champions, on the biggest stage.
Wisconsin started the tournament in Hamilton, New York, with a 9-1 win over the No. 11 seed Long Island University on March 9, 2023, and the No. 3 seed Colgate, 4-2, on March 11, 2023.
Those wins got the Badgers to the Frozen Four, where they met the No. 2 seed Minnesota on Friday, March 17, in Duluth. Minnesota had beaten Wisconsin 4-2 in their last outing in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final FaceOff on March 3, 2023.
The Badgers led 2-1 late in the third period, but the Golden Gophers tied the game at two with a goal with 1:11 left in regulation.
Wisconsin beat Minnesota in overtime with a goal by Salem, New Hampshire native Caroline Harvey (assist to Jesse Compher and Britta Curl) with 3:13 left in overtime, gave Wisconsin the win in overtime, and punched its ticket to the NCAA title game.
"I think what makes us very successful is the relationships that we form with one another," Toft said. "We're all pretty cool with each other. We all understand that when we get in the locker room and on the ice, it's our job to play hockey and succeed. So I think that's very beneficial and helps us be very successful."
Toft played in all four NCAA Tournament games and helped the Badgers hold their four tournament opponents to two goals or less in those games. Toft played in 19 games this season and recorded three blocks and an assist in a 6-1 win over St. Thomas (MN) on Jan. 27, 2023.
Toft and the Badger defense held the nation's second-best offense (in terms of goal scored) zero goals, which is the first and only time the Buckeyes were held scoreless this season.
The Badgers finished with a 29-10-2 record in the 2022-23 season, which included a game against Minnesota in Minneapolis on Feb. 11, 2023, where she met up with members of the Alexandria Area Hockey Association Girls U8 team for autographs after the game.
Wisconsin now has the most women's hockey NCAA titles and surpassed Minnesota, which has six. Wisconsin has now won three out of the last four NCAA Tournaments.
Wisconsin's defense was one of the best in the country this season, as they held opponents to 1.63 goals per game.
Toft has played in a total of 62 games in her three seasons playing for the Badgers and has recorded five assists.
Toft's goals moving forward are simple, keep playing hockey and see where it takes her.
"My favorite part about playing for the program is the atmosphere," Toft said. "The fan and community support has been amazing. We wouldn't be able to do or accomplish as much without them."