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2013 Fall Sports Preview: Will East Ridge boys soccer team make another run at section title?

East Ridge’s Connor Stevenson returns to help lead the Raptors’ offense in 2013. (Bulletin file photo)

Last season the East Ridge boys soccer team emerged as a fifth seed in the Section 4AA tournament to reach the championship game and with the majority of the pieces returning from that squad, the Raptors should figure as a strong contender for the section title again this season.

East Ridge secured a spot in the section title game for the first time in school history after knocking off top-seeded and No. 1-ranked North St. Paul 2-0 in the semifinals. The Raptors finished with an 11-6-2 overall mark and just a 3-5-1 record in the Suburban East Conference.

Anthony Bidwell, now in his second season as East Ridge’s head coach, built the team behind its defense last season and that’s where he’ll begin again as the Raptors return a majority their starters from last year in those positions. Alec Tostenrud, Joseph Kays, Thomas Redden, Kris Broughton and Calvin Zachman are among the returning defenders. But the team will have to adjust to life without defender Merlin Erickson, who graduated last season and anchored the defense.

East Ridge lost just two starters from last year’s team and that has Bidwell excited because of the team’s potential. Connor Stevenson came on as a strong, goal-scoring threat as a sophomore. He displayed an ability to finish around the goal through the air and take on defenders.

While the attack and defense appear solid with most starters returning, the midfield will undergo a shift after the Raptors graduated midfielders Steven Vang, Alec Fitts and Dalton Zilles. Samuel Ruiz-Plaza returns for his junior season after an impressive sophomore season while a mix of players will vie for spots in the midfield.

Senior Chris Knight returns for his senior season in goal for East Ridge as well.

Bidwell will still have a relatively young team this season with just seven seniors and six juniors while seven players are sophomores or younger.

The Raptors kicked off the season Aug. 23 against Bloomington Kennedy.

—Nick Gerhardt

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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