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Girls' soccer: Raptors top St. Paul Central in overtime, advance to section semifinal

East Ridge players -- including Madison Majewski (24) Kendall Stevenson (10) Payton Gutenberg (2), Delaney Goertzen (8) and Maddie Nicholson (18, right) -- celebrate the winning goal Thursday against St. Paul Central. John Molene / contributor1 / 4
Junior midfielder Mackenzie Werner of the Raptors dribbles the ball up field in the first half against St. Paul Central. John Molene / contributor2 / 4
The Raptors score late in the first half to tie the game at 1-1 and send it into overtime. Leading the celebration are Linnea Yacovella (17) and Monika Burt (21). John Molene / contributor3 / 4
East Ridge midfielder Morgan Werner fights for the ball in the second half Thursday. John Molene / contributor4 / 4

It was just a matter of time.

The East Ridge Raptors pounded the ball time and time against the visiting St. Paul Central Minutemen. Finally, with just 6:58 to play, one went in.

Then came the big one.

East Ridge rallied from a 1-0 deficit with seven minutes to play, then won it in overtime on a goal by senior co-captain Linnea Yacovella for a 2-1 overtime win over St. Paul Central and a berth in the Section 4AA girls soccer semifinals.

"It was a pretty tough game, but I knew we could pull it out," senior Marin Majewski said. "We really had the momentum there at the end.

"We could just feel the goal was coming and I trust my girls and they — we really put our hearts out on the field," Majewski added. "Sooner or later, we really put it all out there and we got the win and I'm so proud of us."

It was the first loss since Sept. 3 for the Minutemen — who had gone 10-0-1 since then — and they understandably took it hard.

For the Raptors, however, it was smiles all around now that their season will continue. East Ridge will play at second-seeded Stillwater (12-2-2) Saturday in the section semifinals, starting at 7 p.m. Stillwater roughed up seventh-seeded Roseville 5-0 in another quarterfinal game Thursday.

"We went down one nothing and we didn't quit," said East Ridge head coach Tim Bunnell. "The girls kept battling, they kept creating opportunities. Again, St. Paul Central defended, defended, defended and our girls continued to put the pressure on, finally breaking through and finishing up in overtime. I was most proud of their persistence."

Both East Ridge goals came on corner kicks, the game winner at the 2:56 mark in overtime. Both times the Raptors scored they sent a swarm of angry bees charging the St. Paul Central goal.

"I knew if we kept pressuring, kept getting opportunities we would finish with them," said Bunnell. "And our seniors tonight really stepped up. I know you talked to Marin Majewski, she had her best night as a Raptor. She was fantastic tonight. Monica Burt stepped up. Our entire defensive line, three or four seniors, all stepped up. So it was a nice effort from our more experienced players."

St. Paul Central controlled the action for much of the first half and led 1-0 at the break. But East Ridge outplayed the visitors in the second half. The Raptors had so many corner kicks and bare misses in the second half, one got the feeling it was only a matter of time before one of them got past the defense of the Minutemen's standout goalie.

"Honestly, we just progressed," said senior co-captain Maddie Nicholson. "Our energy — we played as a team, we really believed in ourselves and we put it in. We won!"

Following Saturday's semifinals, the section finals will be played Tuesday at the home of the highest remaining seed.

Third-seeded East Ridge improved to 11-6

Seventh-ranked Stillwater defeated East Ridge 2-0 during the regular season. Saturday's game will also be a rematch of last year's section finals.