East Ridge girls lacrosse: Historic week for Raptors
In only its second year as a solo program, the East Ridge girls lacrosse team broke new ground last week.
The Raptors beat Suburban East Conference rivals Park and Roseville for the first time amidst a three-win week in four games played.
Second-year head coach Amy Fortney said it was "absolutely the best week in the program's history."
"We have a lot to proud of so far this season, but last week was definitely a big week for us," Fortney said. "We proved a lot to ourselves I think."
In a busy stretch of games, East Ridge beat Park 10-8 on Monday, May 7, fell 7-5 to Apple Valley in a non-conference match on Tuesday, but rebounded to take down Roseville 13-7 on Wednesday, before ending the week with a 13-8 non-conference win over Rochester Century. The successful stretch has East Ridge 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the SEC, which is good for fourth place. Undefeated Stillwater, which is ranked third in the state, leads the SEC at 6-0 and is 8-0 overall.
Fortney said she's worked with both the Park and Roseville head coaches in the offseason and knows them well.
"I have a lot of respect for them as coaches and I have a lot of respect for their programs, so the fact that we were able to beat those two teams, after losing to them handily last year, was a big deal for us."
Last year, East Ridge fell 12-7 to Park and 17-4 to Roseville. Offseason dedication to playing better defensively has paid dividends this season, Fortney said.
"We went into this season focusing on everything but putting the ball in the net - it was the other things that we needed to focus on," she said. "The defense was a huge part of my focus and they have come together. They have been a huge contributor to the success we've had this season."
The road win over Park was a good way to start last week for the Raptors.
In the game, Park took an early 1-0 lead at Wolfpack Stadium, but East Ridge took control by scoring five goals in a span of roughly four minutes. The Raptors led 7-5 at the half and held on for the win.
East Ridge junior Jenna Griffith led the way for the Raptors offensively, scoring a team-high four goals. In addition, junior Jess Hammer had two goals and an assist, Erin Plourde, Alyssa Wallace, Braedon Yeo and Kayla Griffith each scored a goal and sophomore goalie Cara Kaufer made 10 saves.
In the win over Roseville, East Ridge was down 5-4 at the half, but outscored the Raiders 9-2 in the second half to earn the victory. Jenna Griffith again paced the Raptors' offense, scoring four goals and adding an assist. Also, Jess Hammer had three assists and a goal, Kayla Griffith and Ella Frazer each had two goals and an assist, Sam Hammer and Plourde each scored two goals and Kaufer stopped an impressive 12 of the 19 shots she faced. In all, Kaufer made 60 saves in the Raptors' four games last week.
"She's been huge for us," Fortney said.
Last year, East Ridge went 5-8 overall and 3-6 in Suburban East Conference play, with wins over Woodbury, Hastings and Forest Lake in its first season. Frazer and Kayla Griffith serve as captains this season. Kayla Griffith led the team in scoring last year with 24 points on 23 goals and one assist. Hammer was second with 14 points on 13 goals and one assist.
East Ridge traveled to Stillwater on Monday, after the Bulletin went to press. Next, the Raptors welcome White Bear Lake to town on Wednesday, May 15, before going to rival Woodbury for a grudge match with the Royals on Monday, May 20.
Fortney said she's proud of her team thus far and that this will be another big week for the Raptors.
"It's the little pieces that are coming together to put together the big puzzle and the big wins," she said. "It's not just the goals that are being scored, it's the things they're doing on the field in order to get the ball in the back of the net. That's what's so good to see."