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ER Raptor Calendar
2013 RAPTOR SOCCER
Burnsville Recap August 30
September 1, 2013East Ridge Boys Soccer
In workmanlike fashion, the Raptors dispatched the Burnsville Blaze 2-0 in a Friday night tilt at the Raptor Nest. Having cancelled their Tuesday night game against St. Louis Park, the Raptors showed the ability to win even when they were not at their best.
This is new.
In prior years, the Raptors would find new and interesting ways to lose games they should win. Not so with these Raptors. They have an understanding that success means making the hard choices even when you don't feel like it.
Such was the case in a game that got started with mid-80F weather. In truth, this was much better than previous days where the on-field temp was measured at 130F. Still, this is borderline on the heat index and seemed to favor the Blaze from Burnsville who started brightly.
Seeming to relish the heat, the Blaze ran hard at the Raptors forcing them deep and demanding their interest. That interest started from a stout defensive line led by Captain's Alec Tostenrud (Toast) and Joseph Kays (KZ). Kris Broughten and Calvin Zachman added a forward presence on the flanks.
The edgy performance in Duluth was no where to be seen. Most of the danger came from swinging the ball side to side but too often their touch failed or a pass was weighted to heavy on the fast surface. Connor Stevenson, as he did in Duluth, was the first to state his intent with both physical play and resolve to shoot from far. This spirited his teammates to follow suit as Zach Boerjan and Jarrod Ronquillo worked hard for an edge.
But it was a sophomore connection of Raj Kolla and Baley Barjesteh that broke through midway through the half. Toast...playing on the right defense, had a long throw to Kris manning the attacking middle...who then played a Raj running a slant toward the middle. Raj immediately saw Baley sneaking behind the defense on the left and placed the ball on his body. Baley's technical ability was on display as he took a good controlling touch...switched it to his right...saw the keeper coming out...then flop shotted the keeper beautifully into the back of the net. Phil Mickelson would have been proud.
The crowd gave a hearty and relief filled gasp of delight and then the music began. That was more like what we expected. Kudos to the build-up that created the opportunity. Baley's finish was not easy...but he made it look so.
There would be more ops in the half as the Raptors began to find their stride. The Blaze countered by becoming more physical and the referee began dealing cards. This slowed things and removed the momentum that the Raptors seem to enjoy. The half ended with the Blaze controlling play but the Raptors intercepted and went close as Samuel Ruiz-Plaza found a left breaking Jarrod. He then swung the play back to Thomas Redden who continued the swing right through Samo to an overlapping Toast who quickly got the edge and centered cleanly to Jarrod who just got a toe on it before the keeper covered. So close. So reminiscent of Duluth play. The half ended 1-0. All were happy for the lead but we didn't quite understand why things seemed hard.
Refreshed by their halftime speech, the Blaze started quickly and pushed play deep into Raptor territory. The defensive line created little room however but the Blaze took several hard shots that were easily saved by a well positioned Chris Knight.
After weathering the heat for 5 minutes, the Raptors began to find some lift by attacking the corners and winning some kicks. Several times the Raptors put the ball on net...at the keeper. Raj works hard and muscles his way into the clear down the right and finds a streaking Jarrod who is defended but wins a corner. Samo's has a magic touch on corners and this was another master stroke moment. He floats a ball that vertically drops in the middle of the box. A Blaze defender tries to clear but the Raptor's were there to deflect it. Jarrod, the right man for the right moment, did not need any encouragement to do what was necessary to body the ball into the net. It wasn't pretty a pretty goal, but the defender pulling the ball out of the back of the net is a beautiful sight all the same.
The 2-0 lead could have been added to by Raj when he headed just wide after a clever delivery from Samo. Some clever footwork by Zach frees Connor who wins a foul and a kick. Credit Connor for a strong stroke on goal...too hot for the keeper who fumbles it. Manny Oromenda is opportunistically there but he can only play it with his body and the keeper cleans up.
Raptors continued to press with Connor finding Zach, who gets clear right and chips the goalie only to have it glance off the crossbar. It served as a reminder of just how good Baley's goal was in the first.
The Blaze began threatening as the Raptors tired and space opened up. While the defensive line held firm the threats were troubling. At this time, Baley was re-introduced to the left wing playing against a defender seemingly twice his size. Like Samwise Gamgee fighting off three Uruk-hai Orcs...one could almost hear "This is for Frodo! This is for the Shire!! And that is for my Old Gaffer!!!" Nadir Barjesteh is not old...it is just a term of endearment and incentive. Baley's hustle was almost rewarded as he helped swing the play back to the Raptors.
There would be more ops created by the Raptors and they began finding their Duluth form. The technical abilities were on display to the pleasure of the Raptor partisans and the boys saw the game off clinically.
The 3-0 start is the best in school history. Things get decidedly more difficult next week as they open up SEC play against intra-district rival Park. Game time is 5pm at the Wolf Den.