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Offense leads to perfect start for Raptors boys soccer

Connor Stevenson and teammate Keelan Spencer, right, join a few friends in celebration after Stevenson netted a goal Aug. 28 in East Ridge’s 2-1 win over Minneapolis South. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 2
Raptors’ junior Jarrod Ronquillo attempts a header. Ronquillo scored during East Ridge’s 2-1 win over Minneapolis South on Aug. 28. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick) 2 / 2

Connor Stevenson knew what he was going to do after he scored in East Ridge’s Aug. 28 battle with Minneapolis South.

He’d already discussed it with his friends.

So the moment after he put the ball into the net, he turned and ran toward a few of his buddies, who were serving as ball retrievers on the sidelines, and embraced them as his teammates rushed over to join in.

“That was something I was looking forward to,” he said.

The Raptors have had a lot of reasons for celebration early in the season. East Ridge’s 2-1 victory over Minneapolis South moved them to 4-0 on the young season, and the offense has played a big role in the success.

The Raptors have netted a total of 16 goals in their first four games.

Stevenson said East Ridge’s older players are all comfortable with one another from their time together at East Ridge and their club experience with one another.

“When you’ve got kids that play together for a long time, you have a belief in one another and you’re not afraid to try new things and I think that really comes from the culture that we try to build that it’s a selfless culture that we promote as a team,” East Ridge head coach Anthony Bidwell said. “When you give them an opportunity to be creative and do things that they’re comfortable with and when they play together for a long time, great things like that happen.”

Stevenson said that familiarity has helped the team gel early and race off to the quick start.

“It’s definitely a good start,” he said. “I think it’s going to lead us through to sections and we’ll be very good.”

But Bidwell said his squad has a lot of room, and time, to improve between now and the postseason.

“There’s tons of areas that we have that we need to address,” he said. “As coaches it’s our job to hone in on those areas and train them and make sure that they can implement them into the game. By no means are we, now where we’re at, where we want to be. We have a lot of improvements ahead of us, so those holes will have to be addressed by the coaches.”

But for now, in the early part of the season, the Raptors’ primary goal is to keep all of their players on the pitch.

“The one thing that I’m just hoping is we stay healthy,” Bidwell said, “At the start of the regular season, all we look at, as is the case with every season, is that we’re progressing and we’re constantly learning. … Ultimately at the end we’ll put everything together and hopefully we’ll deliver a good product and a top-quality product for sections.”

They’re well on their way.