Led by new head coach Mark Retica, the East Ridge girls golf team is looking to make a statement in 2012.

Last year, East Ridge had four individuals qualify for day two of the two-day Section 3AAA tournament, but couldn't send their first golfer to the state tournament.

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East Ridge's Ashley Lehner, Molly Richardson, Celina Spencer and Taylor Anderson each advanced to the second day of sections. As a team, East Ridge scored a 374 on the first day of the section tournament to take sixth place out of 12 teams, failing to qualify for the second day. However, in addition to the top five teams, the top 10 individuals not on those teams make it to Day No. 2. On Day No. 1, Lehner led the way with an 89, followed by Richardson (90), Spencer (94), Anderson (101), Andriel Aimua (103) and Lyndsey Garaghty (104). On Day No. 2, Richardson shot a 90, followed by Lehner (94), Spencer (98) and Anderson (108). Lehner and Spencer, both seniors, return to the Raptors this year, along with Richardson and Aimua, who are currently sophomores.

"We have an experienced team with a good mix of youth and ability," Retica said. "Our early season practices have set up the opportunity to have a very successful year. The thing that impresses me the most about this group is they all want to improve, they are competitive, and work hard daily to increase their skills."

Retica, a Woodbury resident, has served as a golf staff professional at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis., Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury, and at the Hastings Country Club. Most recently, Retica served as an assistant coach and instructor for the Hastings High School boys golf program. As a player, Retica competed in golf at Forest Lake High School and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

He expects Stillwater, Cretin-Derham Hall and Forest Lake to be the teams to beat in the Suburban East Conference this year. The Raptors should battle defending Section 3AAA champions Woodbury and Rosemount for a team and individual appearances at the state tournament.

East Ridge will compete in invitational tournaments at the TPC Twin Cities, Hastings Country Club, Forest Hills Golf Club along with SEC matches that start mid-April.

"Our conference competition will be strong, which allows the chance to measure our development as a team," Retica said.