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2011 Fall Preview: East Ridge girls soccer team ranked 11th to start season

In its first two seasons, the East Ridge soccer team has been one of the most successful Raptors teams.

Entering year No. 3, East Ridge is ranked 11th in Class AA and the goal is a return trip to the state tournament.

After reaching the Class A state tournament in East Ridge's first year of existence, and going 13-5-1 last season, the Raptors were forced to say good-bye to a good crop of seniors, including five girls that went on to play soccer in college. Defenders Lauren Reid, Aileen Scheibner, Bianca Diaz, Sam Greeley and goalkeeper Chelsea Rich were all 2011 graduates.

East Ridge does return key players including senior midfielders Anastasia Medellin and Sarah Rich, senior attacker Anna Solheim, junior defender, Elizabeth Koprucki, sophomore midfielder Kari Solheim and junior forward Noelle Arcand. The Raptors also welcome a number of promising newcomers including: Freshmen Payton Goulding, Emily Heslin, Taylor Turner and Hannah Behr and eighth grader Mariah Troje.

Head coach Mark Abboud also returns for his third year with East Ridge.

"Losing our entire starting backline as well as our starting goalkeeper leaves big shoes to fill by this year's defenders," Abboud said. "We'll have our work cut out for us, but we have a lot of young talent, eager to make their mark."

Rival Woodbury, ranked sixth in Class AA, seventh-ranked White Bear Lake and fourth-ranked Stillwater are expected to stand in the way of East Ridge's Suburban East Conference and Section 4AA title hopes.

The Raptors have begun the fall 2-1, with wins over St. Michael-Albertville and Mound Westonka and a 1-0 loss to Woodbury last week.

Remaining big games include: at Stillwater on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at home against White Bear Lake on Thursday, Sept. 22, and at home against Park on Thursday, Oct. 6.