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Girls' Soccer: East Ridge's Yacovella is headed to the U of M

Linnea Yacovella moves the ball during a section playoff game last October against Mounds View. Bulletin file photo

Linnea Yacovella did not want to waste any more time once she made up her mind about where she plans to play soccer when she graduates.

Yacovella was only a sophomore at the time, but in late March she gave the University of Minnesota a verbal commitment to play for the women's soccer program. It was an exciting step for a player who said she wanted to be on Minnesota's roster since she was 12 years old.

"I guess I just always felt like it was a fit for me," Yacovella said. "I love everything about it, education wise, and team wise they have done really well this past couple of years. I hopefully can add to that when I get there."

Last fall, the Gophers won a share of the Big 10 championship along with Northwestern and Penn State after each school finished with records of 7-1-3. It was the fourth Big 10 title in program history.

Yacovella said she received offers from two Big 10 schools in Minnesota and the University of Nebraska. While the decision came down to those two schools, Minnesota ended up being the best fit.

"I loved both of them, so it was a really hard decision," she said.

As a sophomore, Yacovella helped the East Ridge girls' soccer team win a Class 2A, Section 4 title last fall, scoring two goals in a 2-0 semifinal win against Mounds View and once in a 4-0 finals win against Stillwater.

Yacovella has played varsity minutes at East Ridge since she was in eighth grade, and coach Tim Bunnell has watched as her skills have continued to improve.

"She's a good attacking player," Bunnell said. "I think she's got a powerful shot and a good, quick release."

Now the East Ridge coach hopes to continue honing those skills during her next two years of high school soccer.

"Over the next few years I really want to work on her finishing," Bunnell said. "Making decisions around the goal as to how to finish, and making the best use of her tools. She's got a great set of tools as a forward."

Yacovella was in Illinois for part of the past week playing with REV Soccer Club at the US Club Soccer Midwest Regional tournament. She is not the only player on her club team who is committed to play at the University of Minnesota.

Teammate Megan Plaschko, who will also be a junior next year, committed earlier this year to play women's soccer at Minnesota. Plaschko is a goalie at Eagan High School.

So they will have time to continue growing that connection.

"It's kind of cool," Yacovella said. "I know I'm going to be playing with her, and to be on a club team with her, we already have that bond."