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Girls Soccer: Bunnell, Raptors break out in section championship game

Emily Bunnell (right) celebrates with her teammates and points to the crowd after scoring her third goal in Tuesday's section championship game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
Noelle Tomes moves the ball up the field during Tuesday's section championship game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Emily Bunnell races ahead of Stillwater's Lexi Feyen on Tuesday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 3

East Ridge head coach Mark Abboud told his players he felt they could score five goals before the start of Tuesday’s Class 2A, Section 4 championship game at Stillwater.

The Raptors offense nearly matched the prediction against the state's top-ranked Class 2A team. Emily Bunnell scored three goals as East Ridge defeated the Ponies 4-0 to wrap up a section championship. The Raptors will now play in the Class 2A state tournament starting next week.

“I told them the last couple days in practice I thought we could score five goals,” Abboud said. “I just feel we match up well with them. Yeah, they are the number one team in the state and number one in our section. But I thought we played a more difficult schedule.”

Bunnell helped the Raptors jump out to a 2-0 lead with two first-half goals.

Linnea Yacovella added a goal of her own in the second half after scoring on a crossing pass from Noelle Tomes. Less than 10 minutes later, Bunnell kicked in her third goal to put the game out of reach.

Bunnell said Tuesday’s game was the first in awhile where she felt completely healthy. Recently she had been suffering from a few illnesses, including pneumonia. She missed two full games in addition to playing limited minutes in others.

“It’s just really nice to be back, healthy,” Bunnell said. “I’ve been so sick.”

Abboud credited the Raptors for following the team’s game plan against Stillwater. He said they were able to use the space outside of the Ponies’ midfield formation to set up the attack.

“This game was very similar to Mounds View,” Abboud said. “We thought we executed the game plan perfectly.”

The Raptors agreed. Tomes, who had three assists on Tuesday, said they did a good moving the ball through in the middle of the field to set up the offense.

“I think when we found our midfield, that’s when we started doing our best,” she said. “Then we were moving the ball, switching from side-to-side and everyone was helping.”

The Raptors are set to start the Class 2A state tournament with the first round on Oct. 25. A win would put East Ridge in the state semifinals on Nov. 1 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The Raptors said they were not content with just qualifying for the state tournament. After outscoring opponents 11-0 in the section tournament, they hope to do more of the same next week.

“Win,” Bunnell said about the state tournament. “We’re going to win state. That’s our goal.”

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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