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East Ridge girls soccer: Raptors beat Hastings, Tartan; ranked eighth in state

Senior defender Valerie Woulfe and the Raptors won two games last week to bring the team's win streak to eight straight. East Ridge is ranked eighth in Class AA.

Two more wins last week helped East Ridge girls soccer improve its record to 11-2 overall and move up in the state Class AA rankings.

East Ridge beat Hastings 3-0 and Tartan 2-1 in last week's matches, bringing its win streak to eight, putting the team in second place in Suburban East Conference standings and ranked No. 8 in the state.

The Raptors (11-2; 5-2 SEC) hosted Hastings (4-8; 1-6-0 SEC) at "The Nest" on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Ninth-grade forward Payton Goulding scored the first goal with 23 minutes left in the first half, followed by a goal made at 16:37 by senior forward and team captain Anna Solheim with an assist by senior midfielder Anastastia Medellin.

While the Raptors were unable to score again in the second half, they were successful at preventing the Raiders from netting any goals and East Ridge defeated the Raiders with a 2-0 victory.

The Raptors had a shaky start at Saturday's non-conference competition against the Tartan Titans (7-8). After playing a first half where neither team was able to score, the Titans kicked in the first goal of the game 10 minutes into the second half. The Raptors cracked down and put themselves into the game, however, tying the match after Medellin kicked in a goal for the Raptors only minutes later. With 12:33 remaining Raptors ninth-grade midfielder Emily Heslin netted the go-ahead goal with an assist by senior defender Valerie Woulfe and East Ridge held on for the win.

Despite their wins, Raptors head coach Mark Abboud said that neither the coaches nor the girls felt that they played their best.

"We got the results, but we just didn't feel that we played very well as a team," he said, noting that while they've had a relatively injury-free season, there were some sicknesses that have kept the Raptors from playing their best.

"It was a little bit of a tough week," he said. "This is the end of the season and we want to play at our top level."

When asked about how the team felt overall about its No. 8 state ranking, Abboud said, "I think it's good for the girls to be recognized by other coaches. They've worked hard to establish themselves as a Class AA competitive school and competitive program. The rankings are nice, but at the end of the day, they don't mean anything come October 12," when the Raptors will be vying for a spot in the finals this season. "At that point, it's win or go home," he added. "We're in a competitive section and there are still some teams who could pull some upsets."

In preparation for their upcoming matches, the Raptors are focusing on sharpening up some strategies, with the goal of finalizing their best team formation out on the field.

East Ridge faced Cretin-Derham Hall (4-9-1; 2-5-0 SEC) at the Metrodome on Tuesday, Oct. 4, after the Bulletin went to print. The Raptors will host Park (10-3; 5-2-0 SEC) on Thursday, Oct. 6, and travel to Maplewood for another non-conference match against Hill-Murray (11-2-1) on Saturday, Oct. 8.

"The matches will be two good tests at the end of the season for us as coach, staff and team to see where we're at," Abboud said.