Woodbury coach Joe Quintavalle described it as some type of hex.
The coach's teams have been no slouches in recent years, but intracity rival East Ridge had the upper hand in four of the last five meetings between the teams, including the last three.
Enter Enrique Rios.
An East Ridge handball in front of its net with 36 seconds left in the second half gave Rios, a senior midfielder, a chance to win it for Woodbury. His penalty kick beat the goalkeeper low and left to give the Royals (2-1-1, 2-1-1) a 1-0 triumph over the Raptors (3-1-0, 3-1-0). Rios’ strike was also the first goal scored on the Raptors all season.
What appeared to be a controversial whistle left the Raptors smarting into the postgame of a pivotal Suburban East Conference matchup that could also have implications in Class 2A, Section 4 — if there will be postseason soccer this year.
"It was 0-0, [the Raptors] were kind of losing their calm," Rios said. "So then I was like ‘We’ve got to make this count. This is where we can put them over the edge and take the three points.’ I was lucky to get that penalty, honestly."
A late handball and a subsequent penalty kick in the final minute of regulation proved to be the difference Thursday in Woodbury's 1-0 upset of crosstown rival East Ridge. Enrique Rios scored the first goal of the season against the Raptors in the Royals’ triumph at East Ridge High School.
The Raptors, ranked No. 5 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, showed off their vaunted defense which held strong until a handball called near the Raptors’ goal with 36 seconds remaining in the game set the stage for Rios.
Senior goalkeeper Dominic Cuoco of Woodbury (2-1-1, 2-1-1) posted his first shutout of the season, lowering his team’s goals-against average to one.
East Ridge (3-1-0, 3-1-0) held down one of the state’s top goal scorers in Woodbury senior midfielder Devin Padelford. Padelford had six of the Royals’ eight goals in the team's first three games this season.
Thursday’s contest was a rematch of the 2019 Class 2A, Section 4 championship game, which East Ridge won 1-0 en route to a runner-up finish in the state tourney. Woodbury’s win opens the door for several teams in the Suburban East Conference to contend for this season’s conference crown as no league teams remain unblemished.
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