South St. Paul Recap September 14
September 20, 2013East Ridge Boys Soccer
The #3 Ranked East Ridge Raptors ran rampant over the South St. Paul Packers in Saturday's contest. The 7-1 scoreline reflected the run of play for two programs headed in opposite seasonal directions. With the win, the Raptors moved to 7-0 on the year.
Entering the contest, one could predict a result for the Raptors simply by looking at the paper. SSP had just recently picked up their first victory of the season and came in with a 1-8 record but with a 3.5 average goal difference in their losses.
Beyond the difficulty of negotiating the construction closures and traffic back-ups to the SSP campus, the main focus for the Raptors was to get the win, stay healthy, and get many involved in the game. All three were accomplished in the end.
For a team that had only one win, SSP started rather brightly. While they did not manage a shot, they did manage to disrupt Raptor play and flow. The Raptors strength is best viewed in the open pitch expanse on fast artificial surfaces that play true. This was an all-grass field...in good shape...but still slower and a bit lumpy in spots. As a consequence, the 'touch' wasn't as true and the weighting of passes was slower.
It took some time for the Raptors to find their gear as a consequence. But their flow benefits from the speed of Zack Boerjan who caught the right edge and centered to Connor Stevenson cutting near post. His flick was deflected out of bounds for a corner. At this moment, Jeff Tostenrud leaned over and presciently spoke "I told Alec that today was a day of headers". Almost in response, Alec Tostenrud sauntered forward from his defensive position to the 18 yard box. Samo then delivered a back post corner that Alec head butted into the net. Just like that it was 1-0.
And so the game flowed with goals every few minutes as the Raptors worked both in and out of the box. But it was another routine corner that gave the Raptors a 2nd goal. This time Samo delivered to Connor who placed himself in front of th goal. His crafty header into the net was lamented by the SSP announcer noting "I think the Raptors have that whole corner kick thing down".
Keelan Spencer then got his name on the scoresheet turning well on a header pass from Alec. He then touched himself into space and from 35 yards out strung a rope to the back of the net just under the bar. His reaction to the Raptors 3rd goal was cool and collected. He had been there and done that before. So he calmly turned to his feeder and thanked him. Nice.
The half would end and would flatter SSP having only conceded 3 while 6 would have been more justified. Despite this, the Raptors were not playing their brand of soccer. At times they appeared bored and/or disinterested. Subs flowed and got good minutes but the tempo did not pick up. It seemed everyone was interested in scoring...while defending took a back seat. Alas, there was a 2nd half to play. The coach corrected the Raptor mindset.
The 2nd started brightly with a long spell of possession and territorial advantage. The patience was outstanding as the Raptors found a rhythm similar to the 1st half of the White Bear game. But then SSP got on a break down the left and Knight had to come out to challenge and the danger was averted with a shot well wide. That shook the Raptors a bit as they went to a more direct game and became impatient.
Despite the ragged play, there were moments of brilliance. The 4th goal came with Samo finding Connor who took the ball through the middle, he then chipped to Jarrod who then slid the ball to a hash-running Zack. Zack took a controlling touch that separated himself from the defender then swept the ball into the back of the net with a minimum of fuss.
That goal energized the Raptors and they struck again 15 seconds later with a Samo torpedo from distance. This was another one from 35 yards out but instead of high under the bar, this one was blasted low just inside the left post.
The 6th goal came after a Kris Broughton's midfield long feathering pass was taken with a beautiful touch by Connor that not only controlled the ball, but pushed it passed the diving keeper. His finish required the easiest of tap-ins.
The final goal came again through Connor's involvement. He took a ball from Samo, turned and penetrated down the left centered to a charging Nathan Ly who dummied to Danny who smashed it home for his first Varsity goal. This would end the scoring for the Raptors despite several more opportunities...many through Danny's arcing throw-ins.
Of particular note in this contest was Samo's virtuoso performance in midfield. It was a thing of beauty. His guilt-edged set-ups on the corner and his combinations and interchange with Zack, Connor, Kris, and Jarrod...Samo led a merry dance from the get-go leaving the rearguard of SSP in utter disarray at times. No less than 5 times Samo sliced open the SSP defense only to see efforts go begging. His control helped re-group and steady the Raptors when play turned ragged.
The 7 goal performance was well deserved but the luster of the victory was tempered somewhat by the allowance of a goal. Having staked their claim to 5 previous clean sheets, the Raptors were not happy having given up a goal from distance from open play. This happens in soccer as it can be easy to become complacent in a game against overmatched foes. Recognizing and learning from experiences like this is critical for the team as it continues its magical run. Leaning on its Raptors Values will help as all teams deserve Respect for 80 minutes.
The Raptors next game is against Hastings in the Nest before they start a very tough 3 game set against the top of the SEC table.