Wayzata and Minnetonka open the 2019 girls soccer season ranked No. 1 and 2; Edina is ranked No. 8.
Eden Prairie ended last season ranked No. 6. The 2018 Eagles had also earned Section 2AA’s top seed. Eden Prairie returns two All-State players in Maddie Ishaug and Rachel Boelke, yet opens the 2019 season as an unranked team.
“That’s not what motivates us,” said Eden Prairie coach Jessica Mueller, “but we’re kind of ticked.
“Will we play with a chip on our shoulders?” she asked. “Definitely.”
On Saturday, Eden Prairie opened its season with a 5-1 win over Blake, Class A’s No. 7-ranked team.
Note: Only once did last year’s team score four goals in a win.
In fact, going into the final game of last year’s regular season, Eden Prairie had won six games by scores of 1-0.
“We’re comfortable grinding out games,” said Mueller. “We’re also comfortable playing the underdog.”
They then opened the 2019 season with a four-goal win.
Eden Prairie’s 2019 roster features eight returning seniors.
“We’ll have a senior-heavy rotation,” said the coach.
Offensively, Eden Prairie’s front features Ishaug, last year’ leading scorer, Myra Moorjani and Carrie Byrnes.
“They’re able to create,” said Mueller, “because they’re good at pulling people out of position.”
Byrnes does this with speed.
“She gets behind the other team’s defense because she’s so fast,” said the coach.
To capitalize on what’s expected to be a fair amount of scoring opportunities, Eden Prairie has put an emphasis on fundamentals.
“By taking more reps in front of the goal,” said Mueller, “we’re working on finishing.
“We’ll get good at it,” she added, “when it becomes a habit.”
Senior Sarah Kurtenbach will be Eden Prairie’s starting keeper. Sophomore Presley Pergande will see time as well.
“They don’t have varsity experience, but they’ve played in big games and on big stages,” said Mueller. “They don’t have to be perfect, so there’s no pressure.”
Eden Prairie’s back four, back six really, is expected to be strong. It’s anchored by Boelke, one of the best defenders in the state. She’ll be joined Megan Bohlig, Kenna Markle, Taylor Kotchsevar, Adriana Blanco and Anna Schrader.
Expect lots of different rotations, especially early.
“The goal is to stay fresh,” said Mueller.
Mueller’s philosophy is to play for the end of the season.
“We want to be peaking in time for sections,” she said. “We’ll take one game at a time and not let the highs get too high or the lows get too low.
“With the Lake being so tough,” she added, “we’ll try to win as much as we can and grow as much as we can.”
“The girls have been playing together since they were 8 and 9 years old,” said Mueller. “They want to have fun.”