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Woodbury’s Steven Jessen-Howard is back with the Royals this fall. Bulletin file photo

2013 Fall Sports Preview: Woodbury boys soccer team to aim for top three in SEC

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Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

With three returning all-conference players, the Woodbury Royals will shoot for greater heights in 2013.

“I’m optimistic,” Royals coach Joe Quintavalle said. “We have a goal to finish in the top three of the conference.”

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The Royals finished 6-9-1 overall and 4-4-1 in Suburban East Conference play during the 2012 season. They return three all-conference defensive players with Steven Jessen-Howard, Sam Hays and Tayo Famodu. Jessen-Howard had 12 points last season as the leading scorer among the three.

Five returning seniors, including Jessen-Howard and Hays, give the Royals an experienced lineup as they look to compete with SEC favorites East Ridge, Stillwater and Roseville. Seniors Sebastian Usurriaga and Jerit Sanden will also help the Royals this season.

“We only lost four seniors from last year, so we should have a lot of experience returning,” Quintavalle said.

In addition to a strong lineup, the Royals also have a good pair of goalkeepers that rotate every other game. Juniors Aaron Clark and Jake Simon both return after splitting time in goal last season. Clark had 40 saves in eight regular season games, and Simon had 81 saves in nine regular season games.

“We have confidence in both of them,” Quintavalle said. “They both really have some good qualities. They’re leaders in the back.”

A couple of new comers could also make an impact right away for the Royals. Freshman midfielder Kohei Adams has strong ball-handling skills. Sophomore Edgar Diaz can make an impact on the attack. Quintavalle sees both as potential starters.

The Royals opened the season with 2-1 wins over Champlin Park and Hill-Murray. More non-conference challenges will come the Royals’ way this season with Wayzata, North Saint Paul, and Prior Lake on the schedule. Late September and early October will provide a measuring stick in SEC for the Royals since they will play Roseville on Sept. 24, Stillwater on Sept. 26 and East Ridge on Oct. 1.

—Matthew Davis

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