The East Ridge Raptors keep banging on U.S. Bank Stadium's door. But a new East Ridge team will have to try to find a key to get in.
Third-seeded Maple Grove locked East Ridge out of advancing to the state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium with a 3-0 victory on a cold and wet quarterfinal at Chisago Lakes High School Thursday, Oct. 26.
The fourth-ranked Crimson (18-2) will play Lakeville North (10-5-4) in one state semifinal game Tuesday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Wayzata and Eagan meet in the other semifinal.
It was the second straight season the Raptors lost in the state quarterfinals. Last season, a top-seeded East Ridge team lost in the quarterfinals to Andover.
But 13 seniors graduated off that team and this was expected to be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Raptors, especially with a new head coach on board. Instead, the Raptors exceeded expectations with three consecutive 2-1 victories in the section, including a thrilling win over seventh-ranked Stillwater at Stillwater.
"This was a team that came together and in my first year of coaching it was a privilege to coach them," said East Ridge head coach Tim Bunnell. "They had character, they cared about one another and every day they showed up to work hard. And we couldn't have asked anything more to build our program on as we move forward.
"The eight seniors we had were fantastic," Bunnell continued. "The underclassmen learned a lot and it's something we can really build on as we move forward."
Maple Grove led 1-0 at the half in a battle that easily could have been reversed. The Crimson scored right out of the gate, tallying a goal just three minutes into the game on a shot by Lauren Bredensteiner. The Raptors were unlucky at finding the back of the net, from the beginning to a late shot that looked in, but hit the crossbeam instead.
The Crimson went up 2-0 on a penalty kick with 25 minutes to play, then added another goal three minutes later.
"Maple Grove played very well and they finished a couple of chances," Bunnell said. "You get a handball, a PK (penalty kick) in the box, it happens. Our girls had some beautiful shots. (Linnea) Yacovella hits that first one that spins across, hits the crossbar. We're really good on set pieces. We had two or three chances on that. We just couldn't capitalize tonight. But, again, as I told the girls, I define success by their effort and what they give on the field and they were a success tonight."
East Ridge finished with a 12-7 record.