It started out as a laugher, but ended up anything but. Woodbury jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game against visiting Cretin-Derham Hall, but then had to weather a furious comeback by the Raiders for a hard-fought 42-39 win Jan. 9. Cretin outscored the Royals 39-30 over the last 30 minutes of the game -- 26-16 in the second half -- and had a shot at a tie in the final second, but couldn’t get off a long attempt. Tight games are nothing new for the Royals this season.
East Ridge showed all the signs of breaking out of a slump until the final six minutes when some bad old habits reared their heads in a 10-point loss Jan. 8 to visiting White Bear Lake. The Raptors led the Bears 42-41 with less than six minutes to play, but fell apart down the stretch and dropped a 56-46 decision. It was the fourth straight loss for the Raptors and sixth in the past seven games. “It’s very frustrating,” East Ridge coach Glen Wurm said. “We have had probably three games where we have outplayed the opponent.
East Ridge’s girls took second and the Raptors boys were third as the ski teams competed Jan. 6 in a nine-team conference meet at Alton Alps on a very chilly night. With temperatures heading toward zero and the wind chill making it seem even colder, the Raptors warmed up on the slopes. Becca Lepel finished ninth and Katie Kelly was 11th to lead the East Ridge girls. Lepel had the seventh best finish on the red course and was 10th on the blue. Kelly had 13th and 12th-place finishes. Teammate Karla Brady was 17th overall and Daniella Del Toro 26th. Madison Wall placed 10th to lead Woodbury.
It took most of a half for Rosemount to get their Irish defense up, but when they did, they really did. Trailing visiting East Ridge 25-24 at the break, the Irish girls roared back with a 25-6 run in the first 11 minutes of the second half en route to a 63-37 win Jan. 3. Rosemount remained undefeated on the season, improving to 8-0 with the non-conference win. while East Ridge fell to 4-4 overall.
Hammer time came late Dec. 27. But it was a welcomed hit for visiting East Ridge. East Ridge junior forward Derek Hammer scored the game-winning goal with 41 seconds to play in overtime and a surging Raptors team knocked off previously undefeated and 13th ranked White Bear Lake in a gut-checking 4-3 win in the Vadnais Sports Center. By all rights, it should have been an easy win for the Raptors. And then a win for the Bears.
The offense came and went for No. 10 East Ridge in a rare Monday night game, but the Raptors still handled visiting Owatonna with relative ease in a 60-44 triumph. The Raptors held the Huskies to back-to-back 22-point halves. That was the fewest points East Ridge has given up this season and the third time in the last four games the Raptors have held a team under 48 points. For a team that prides themselves on defense and rebounding, those are very positive signs. “I was very happy with the defense,” East Ridge coach Paul Virgin said. “The pressure was good.
Asked for the difference in Woodbury’s 45-38 win over visiting East Ridge Dec. 19, both Royals head coach Megan Kirchenwitz and senior guard Kayla Bilski had a common theme -- composure. And why not? Woodbury came into Friday night’s contest undefeated, with three of their five wins by six points or less. And that grace under pressure served the Royals well, as they turned back charge after charge by the Raptors, never wilting under the pressure. “Our composure was tremendous,” Kirchenwitz said. “We had good balance. It was just a good team win.” “We worked as a team,” Bilski added.
The pregame hype was that St. Paul Central’s defense might prove an equalizer to East Ridge’s high-flying, high-scoring offense. Nope. East Ridge dominated the action on both sides of the ball Oct. 14, slicing up the visiting Minutemen in a rousing 3-0 win that gave East Ridge the Section 4AA crown and sent the Raptors to the Class AA boys state soccer tournament. It was a sweat triumph for the Raptors, who had advanced to the section finals the last two seasons, only to fall short. “These guys weren’t going to be denied,” East Ridge head coach Anthony Bidwell said.
The Raptors noted post game that they have been here before. Now the trick is to get over the top. Top-ranked East Ridge advanced to the Section 4AA boys soccer finals with a dominating 2-0 win over fourth-seeded and visiting Cretin-Derham Hall Oct. 9. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. “Again, we’ve been here before,” East Ridge coach Anthony Bidwell said. “I’m very happy for their performance tonight. They came out and played really well and they deserved to win. But again we’ve been here before the last two years.
The announcement that the East Ridge Raptors were now the top-ranked boys soccer team in the state just before the start of the match was met by skepticism – both by a hard-nosed Cretin-Derham Hall team during the game, and by Raptors’ head coach Anthony Bidwell afterward. The visiting Raiders (2-2-1) gave the Raptors (8-0 overall, 3-0 in the Suburban East) all they could handle for much of the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first half before East Ridge rallied for a 2-1 win Sept.