Duluth East's Seth Hoffman fights to get around Coon Rapids junior Abdisa Koji Saturday afternoon at Coon Rapids High School. The Greyhounds defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
The Greyhounds can say they’re battle-tested after their game against Duluth East.
Duluth East overcame an early deficit to a section opponent, coming back to win a 3-1 game at Coon Rapids thanks to a pair of second-half goals Saturday. And despite playing up north, these bouts with metro-area schools are a way of life for East, which is the lone Class AA school within an hour up in Duluth.
“We get it from both sides because we’re a double-A school up in Duluth around with all single-A schools,” East coach Nick Bremer said. “All those teams, we’re the No. 1 target all the time.”
East has a couple of go-to guys fueling the offense with seniors Nolan Friday and Seth Hoffman, who tied the game at 1-1 in the first half against Coon Rapids. But depth has been big, too, with senior Zach Madill was big in the defensive midfield and also put away a big shot off the top corner and in from distance to put the Greyhounds (12-1) up 2-1 over the Cardinals.
“We’ve really had a lot of people contributing to the scoring,” Madill said. “And we don’t really have that many weak players. Everybody’s doing their job and we’re working as a team. That’s what’s contributed to our success.”
Jackson Manthey isn’t always a scorer for the Greyhounds, either, but he put away the final goal for the game for East, making a nice move to corral a ball in traffic, turn and shoot.
Opponents know East has go-to players like Friday and Hoffman, so the fact others can contribute as well is why the Greyhounds have just one loss, to Duluth Denfeld.
“When other guys can step up and contribute, that’s how you put together the kind of record that you do,” Bremer said.
As a longtime member of Section 7AA, East is used to playing metro-area schools. And as the big fish in the Duluth area, the Greyhounds get plenty of fight from the other local schools, like Duluth Marshall and Hermantown.
“It’s nice to be able to have that mix where we go home, and even though they’re single-A schools, they’re gonna play us with everything they’ve got,” Bremer said. “Then we come down here, we get to show what we can do against bigger schools too. It’s a nice balance where we’ve got tough games all the way through, even though they’re [some] single-A games as well.”
East has just three regular-season games left before sections start. Section 7AA postseason play could feature rematches with the likes of Blaine, Andover and Coon Rapids. But don’t expect the Greyhounds to look too far ahead or back at past results.
“I think we should probably try not to look at that,” Madill said. “Play everybody as if we don’t know them and try to keep every game as fair as possible; don’t cheat them out, saying, ‘Oh, we beat them before.’ We’ve got to think of everybody as a contender. Because anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”
Coon Rapids junior Abdisa Koji races Duluth East defender Evan Abrahams up field. The Cardinals fell to the visiting Greyhounds 3-1 Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
The Greyhounds left no question as to who's on top of the section.
Duluth East faced section opponent Coon Rapids on the road and won a 2-1 game, the third straight for the Greyhounds.East remains unbeaten against Section 7AA teams this season and is 12-1 overall. Coon Rapids dropped to 5-7-1 for the season.
Zach Madill hit the game-winner for East, hustling to a loose ball and rifling a shot from outside the box off the corner post and into the net in the 51st minute. The Greyhounds led 2-1 on the goal, coming back from an early deficit.
Duluth East started slow, with sloppy passing and some miscommunications early, before getting sharper around the 17-minute mark. The Greyhounds started controlling possession for the remainder of the first half, though they struggled to get shots on net, until Seth Hoffman finished a low cross from Magnus Kittleson in the 32nd minute to tie the game 1-1.
The Cardinals struck first while the Greyhounds still looked jet lagged. Sydney Achie hammered a shot off on a loose ball in the box to put Coon Rapids up 1-0 in the eighth minute.
Jackson Manthey scored East’s final goal in the 78th minute to make it 3-1.
Coon Rapids goalkeeper Andrew LaPage finished with eight saves. His counterpart, Duluth East’s Matthew Campbell had two saves.
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Duluth East midfielder Nolan Friday and Coon Rapids defender Ethan Moser go up for a ball during the first half of Saturday's match in Coon Rapids. The Greyhounds defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine