East Ridge vs.
White Bear Lake

7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20

Both East Ridge and White Bear Lake enter the week unbeaten in Suburban East Conference play, and they’re jockeying for position to make deep playoff runs, setting up our Top Game of the Week.

In each of the past two seasons, East Ridge (6-1-1, 2-0-0) finished tied for third in the Suburban East, where it fought its way through the Class 2A, Section 4 bracket to a state tournament berth but got eliminated in the first round. For a Raptors squad looking to take a step forward and gain some traction, a conference crown and higher seeding would be ideal.

The Raptors offense can attack: Led by senior forward Linnea Yacovella, who put up two goals in a 5-0 win over Forest Lake on Sept. 6. East Ridge has outscored its opponents 11-2 in eight games.

But an offense is only as good as its backstop, and East Ridge’s defense has been successful, posting two shutouts — 2-0 against Hill-Murray on Sept. 4 and 1-0 over Woodbury on Sept. 11 — in addition to its blowout of Forest Lake. Aside from allowing two goals in a 2-2 draw with Eagan on Saturday, the defense has allowed only one goal in four other games.

However, the Raptors defense will have their claws full against White Bear Lake, which is ranked No. 5 in the Class 2A state coaches' poll from Sept. 9. The Bears (7-2, 3-0) have scored three or more goals in all seven of their wins this season.

White Bear Lake hasn’t made a state tournament since 2012, but the Bears won the Suburban East last season with a perfect 8-0 record by netting 58 goals in 15 regular-season games showing they’re aiming to end the drought.

Off to a promising start this season, the Bears have outscored their opponents 18-2 in three conference victories: 5-1 against Cretin-Derham Hall on Sept. 6,  4-0 over Roseville on Sept. 11 and 9-1 at Forest Lake last Thursday.

The Bears offense is controlled by Kayla Anderson, a junior forward whose 15 goals in nine games is the state's third-best. Claire Odmark has netted nine goals, including three of the Bears' five goals in a Aug. 25 win over Eastview.