East Ridge boys soccer: Hoeffel emerges in pair of wins

Body: 

East Ridge Boys Soccer

Midfielder Sam Hoeffel played sparingly last year as a junior on the East Ridge boys soccer team.

He made a strong case for a starting spot last weekend in the team's first two games of the season.

Hoeffel scored once in the Raptors' 4-0 win over Rochester John Marshall on Friday and twice Saturday in their 3-0 win over Rochester Mayo, a rematch of last year's Class 2A state quarterfinals.

"On Friday night, something clicked in Sam and he just had a phenomenal game," coach Anthony Bidwell said. "He's very coachable and he's applying it on the field."

Hoeffel's scoring came during a particularly strong weekend defensively for the Raptors, who were ranked third in the preseason Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaching Association poll. The team did not allow a single shot on net and controlled ball possession during both games, Bidwell said.

The strong East Ridge effort came despite the fact that the team graduated six contributors from last year, including all-state players Ashwin Kolla and Jarrod Ronquillo, and 10 seniors in total.

"It's been almost seamless," Bidwell said of the transition. "They just buy into the program and come in ready to play and kind of fill those voids no problem."

On Friday, the Raptors took a 3-0 lead at halftime, receiving goals from junior Nathan Casas, sophomore Eiden Serrato and junior Grant Tostenrud before Hoeffel added his goal.

Hoeffel scored the first goal in Saturday's game, and senior Thibault Ceulemans made it 2-0 at halftime. Hoeffel scored again in the second half, part of an effort Bidwell credited to strong team play.

"The players around him set him up, made him look good," he said. "They don't care who scores. They just want to make sure they're helping the team contribute."

East Ridge was scheduled to play ninth-ranked Minneapolis Washburn Tuesday and St. Paul Harding on Thursday.