2012 Fall Preview: New coach part of East Ridge boys soccer team's turnoverLast year the East Ridge boys soccer team had its most successful season on the pitch since the new school opened its doors in 2009. Like a lot of teams, this year’s squad will battle some turnover as it hopes to repeat what it did in 2011.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Last year the East Ridge boys soccer team had its most successful season on the pitch since the new school opened its doors in 2009.
Like a lot of teams, this year’s squad will battle some turnover as it hopes to repeat what it did in 2011.
East Ridge finished last year 8-8-1 overall and 4-4-1 in the Suburban East Conference. The Raptors had a five-game win streak at one point and beat Lakeville North, which was ranked seventh in the state at the time. However, after earning the fourth seed in the Section 4AA bracket, the season came to an end with a 1-0 loss to rival Woodbury in the section quarterfinals.
This year, East Ridge will have a new head coach in Anthony Bidwell – the second coach in team history. Bidwell, a social studies teacher at East Ridge, takes over for Phil Walczak, who led the Raptors for three seasons.
Most recently, Bidwell was the head girls soccer coach at Eden Prairie High School from 2009-11, where his teams compiled a 46-5-6 record. Bidwell and Eden Prairie won two Lake Conference championships, one Section 2AA championship, and the 2010 Class AA state championship. His 2010 Eden Prairie team was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
In his first year at East Ridge, Bidwell said he has “a strong group of young players coming into the program” but “a young team with prematurely losing upperclassman for various reasons.”
Heading up the charge for East Ridge this fall will be senior defender Merlin Erickson, sophomore midfielder Samuel Ruiz-Plaza and junior defender Alec Tostenrud. Erickson and Tostenrud have been tabbed as team captains.
East Ridge lost six seniors to graduation after the 2011 season, but have “numerous promising ninth and 10th graders” according to Bidwell. This fall, the team will have to do without its leading scorer from a year ago in Won Suk Chung. Chung, a senior who had 25 points on 19 goals and 6 assists as a junior, is now with Woodbury. However, the team does bring back midfielder Alec Fitts and sophomore Connor Stevenson to help pace the attack.
It’s expected defending Suburban East Conference champion Stillwater will be the team to beat again this year in the SEC and in Section 4AA. Also, Mounds View and Woodbury should be the other top SEC contenders. In section play, in addition to Stillwater, Woodbury and Roseville will likely pose a threat. Stillwater enters the year ranked fourth in Class AA. In addition, Mounds View and Woodbury are ranked 18th and 19th, respectively.
East Ridge has started the year 1-0-1 with a 2-2 tie against St. Michael-Albertville in the season opener and a 1-0 win over Andover in game No. 2.
Key upcoming games include: Aug. 30 against Woodbury, Sept. 11 versus Stillwater, Sept. 27 against Mounds View and Oct. 4 at Park.