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Woodbury boys soccer: Roayls to face Raptors in section opener

Mitch Leonard and the Royals face cross-town rival East Ridge in the first round of the Section 4AA playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 11, at home.

There shouldn't be many surprises for Woodbury in its quarterfinal round of the Section 4AA playoffs.

The Royals face cross-town rival East Ridge on Thursday, Oct. 11, at home.

"It's going to be a close, tough game," said Woodbury soccer coach Joe Quintavalle. "They know our guys; we know them."

Woodbury came out on top 4-0 when the two teams clashed in the regular season.

"They probably want to get back at us," Quintavalle said.

Woodbury finished the regular season Thursday, Oct. 4 to conference champion Mounds View in a 1-0 contest. The Royals closed out the season with a 6-8-1 overall record and a 4-4-1 record in the Suburban East - good enough for fifth place in the conference.

Woodbury earned the No. 4 seed in the sections, while East Ridge (9-5-2; 3-5-1 SEC) drew the No. 5 seed. This year's quarterfinal pairing represents a rematch from last year's opening round, where the Royals advanced in a 1-0 win.

North St. Paul is seeded first this year in the section and followed by Stillwater. Cretin-Derham Hall is the fifth seed.

Woodbury closed out the regular season having to watch Mounds View celebrate its conference championship on the Royals' home turf. Woodbury limited the champs to one goal in a game Quintavalle said his team could have played better.

"We played well in one respect, we possessed the ball more than they did but we never got in behind them and had very few scoring chances," he said.

Woodbury played the Mounds View game without junior defenseman Steven Jessen-Howard, who was diagnosed with a concussion after the Tuesday, Oct. 2 game against Hastings. Jessen-Howard, who Quintavalle said has lingering headaches, will sit out the quarterfinal game on Thursday.

"It's a big loss," the coach said "He's been real solid for us as a central defender. But you can't play games with this kind of injury."

Against Hastings, Woodbury gained a 3-0 halftime lead behind two goals by Mitch Leonard and one goal by Won Suk Chung. The Raiders answered back in the second half with two goals of their own, but Woodbury's Bobby Kostadinov sealed the game with a goal.

"It was nice to come away with a victory since we have always struggled playing at Hastings over the years," Quintavalle said.

The coach said he was satisfied overall with the regular season, especially given the team's youth. Woodbury will graduate four seniors this year; Quintavalle noted that Mounds View, for instance, fielded 13 seniors this year.

"We have a good future," he said. "We kind of learned as we went. I think we're playing pretty good soccer."