East Ridge girls soccer head coach Mark Abboud has said all along the regular season serves as preparation for the postseason and he wants his team playing its best prior to the section tournament.
Lately the Raptors have started to show signs of improvement at the right time and Saturday's 3-0 victory over non-conference foe Tartan served as further evidence.
East Ridge senior Noelle Arcand scored two goals and senior Katelyn Bergloff added another goal to give the Raptors (4-8-1, 2-5 Suburban East Conference) their third consecutive victory.
"This is point in the season where we wanted to be clicking and firing," Abboud said. "Our goal is to go into the sections on a six-game winning streak. We want to win the season out."
East Ridge has three games remaining beginning with Cretin-Derham Hall Tuesday, Park Thursday and ninth-ranked (1A) South St. Paul Saturday in Woodbury.
After starting the season 1-8-1, the Raptors have picked up a 6-0 victory over Hastings last Tuesday and a 2-0 victory over Mounds View Thursday. More importantly East Ridge is scoring goals. The Raptors had six goals on the season prior to the blowout victory over Hastings.
"Our first eight games we definitely struggled with scoring goals, teams were shutting us out," senior defender Elizabeth Koprucki said. "We opened up the scoring against Hastings, now we're just starting to put them away."
Part of the increased offensive output has come through the addition of an extra forward to the attack, but it's also come because East Ridge has started to get healthy and improve its attack.
The Raptors displayed a more effective attack against Tartan (4-11, 0-7 CSC) and connected on a set piece in the first half when sophomore defender Taylor Turner sent a free kick into the box which Arcand headed home for the team's first header goal of the season.
East Ridge clung to that lead in the second half and avoided giving up a goal despite some dangerous attacks by the Titans.
After sustaining some pressure from Tartan, the Raptors took control when Arcand connected for her second goal of the game at the 50th minute mark. Bergloff put the game out of reach with 5:30 remaining after finding some space near the top of the 18-yard box and finishing a right-footed shot into the corner of the goal.
"Ever since Roseville we've switched our formation around," Abboud said. "We're much more attacking orientated. We needed to score some goals."
For Abboud and the team, the recent success has seemed satisfying.
"I'm used to winning at the club level but this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons I've had," Abboud said. "Just the challenge and the ability to take a really raw team and make them competitive in the Suburban East, which is tough."