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Girls Soccer: East Ridge defeats Mahtomedi on header by Bunnell

The East Ridge girls soccer team celebrates after Emily Bunnell scored to give the Raptors a 1-0 lead in the second half of Thursday's game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)

The East Ridge girls soccer team has matched its high expectations through the first four games of the fall schedule.

The Raptors have not been shy about their goals to compete for a state title. Now a 4-0 start has backed up the confidence.

The fourth win of the season came 1-0 after a defensive battle with Mahtomedi at home Thursday. Emily Bunnell scored the Raptors’ only goal on a header off a corner kick with just 10 minutes remaining in the game. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

“There was a huge mess of people, and the ball just squirted out from my other captain Lauren Johnson,” Bunnell recalled. “It was just on my head, and I scored.”

Bunnell has been nursing two ankle injuries she suffered playing soccer last spring. But that did not stop her from playing most of the game Thursday.

Head coach Mark Abboud told his players at halftime he had a feeling they would connect on a corner kick in the second half. Even in such a close game, Abboud’s number one concern is focusing on the big picture this season.

“As weird as it may sound, I’m not really concerned about the scores in any of these games,” Abboud said. “I’m more looking for the effort and the attitude, and the girls to pick up things and work on things that we’ve identified as areas that we need improvement.”

East Ridge’s other victories this week came 1-0 versus St. Michael-Albertville on the road Monday and 2-0 Tuesday at home versus Lakeville North. Brittany Mahowald scored the only goal versus St. Michael-Albertville off a free kick from Emma Stoehr. Noelle Tomes scored both goals in Tuesday's win.

Abboud said he sensed the program coming together for a big 2016 season as far back as four years ago. With a large group of seniors and talented young players who are capable of playing varsity, he expects 2016 to be a big year.

“I’m not as pleased with the 4-0 start as (much as) I am with just how the girls have responded with their effort, the attitude and the camaraderie,” Abboud said.”It has been far superior and far ahead of any team we’ve had this early in the season.”

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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