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Maddy Gaffney is one of 10 seniors returning to help lead the Woodbury girls soccer team this year. Gaffney returns as the team’s leading scorer from last year with 27 points. Bulletin file photo

2013 Fall Sports Preview: Royal finale for Woodbury girls soccer coach Bill Ebertz?

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sports Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

Woodbury’s girls soccer team will embark on what may be the final season of Bill Ebertz’s storied coaching career with the Royals.

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The long-time coach led the program to four state titles in 11 appearances during his 28 years. Since he married Paola Jimenez in Mexico City during the past year, speculation has begun whether this will be his final season. Either way, the Royals will field another strong team.

“My situation will not have an effect on the team,” said Ebertz, who is the Royals’ co-coach along with Pat Malicki. “They know that I will always be there to support and listen to them.”

The Royals have 10 returning seniors, including captains Grace Rodgers and Maddy Gaffney. Ample talent from younger players will also help the team as they will need to replace last year’s second-leading scorer, Kristina White, and their goalkeeper, Liz Sampson.

“Our team this year will have a good mixture of returning players and possibly a few ninth graders,” Ebertz said.

Gaffney returns as the team’s leading scorer from last year with 27 points. Elizabeth Nelson also could provide a spark on offense. She had 12 points last season.

Freshman goalkeeper Cecile Kieger already played in net for five varsity games last year. The Royals will also have Meghan Konop and Maureen Duthie at goalkeeper.

“Our goalies have been looking good, and our starters are playing well,” Ebertz said.

The Royals enter the season ranked No. 4 in the Minnesota coaches’ poll. Last season’s squad finished 12-2-4, but they bowed out in the section semifinals to Stillwater. Despite Royals’ success, they finished third in the Suburban East Conference.

“It’s a tough conference that will get us ready for section play,” Ebertz said.

A tough conference calls for a strong non-conference schedule, which the Royals have. They started the regular season with a tournament in Duluth on August 23-24. The Royals fell short against No. 3-ranked Eden Prairie in a 2-0 loss on Aug. 23, but game two went in the Royals favor, 5-0 against Andover on Aug. 24.

“We have a tough schedule early with Eden Prairie, Burnsville and Eagan,” Ebertz said. “It should get us ready for the conference schedule. There are at least four to five teams that could win it.”

The Royals will play defending conference champion White Bear Lake early in the season on September 12. Stillwater, last year’s second-place team, will meet the Royals on Sept. 26.

—Matthew Davis

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