The Forest Lake girls soccer team started this year on a strong note, going 5-0 with two key wins over section opponents St. Francis and Cambridge-Isanti.
But the Rangers hit a wall when Suburban East Conference play started, as they took on one of the toughest conferences in the state, home to two top-10 teams No. 8 Park (9-0) and No. 9 Mounds View (7-0). The SEC is also home to a top-15 team in Woodbury.
Though the wins/losses columns show the same results as last year, the Rangers held the powerhouses to three fewer goals than last season, an improvement co-head coach Rich Elliot is proud of.
“I’ve been really happy with our defense,” Elliot said. “They’ve been working well together and gaining a lot more experience. They are doing a nice job of staying calm, which helps keep us close in each game we play.”
The Rangers may be winless in the SEC, but are third in Section 7AA standings at 2-0 as the No. 35 team in the state, according to polls based on the Quality Results Formula. Leading the section rankings is Coon Rapids (3-1) at No. 17 and Blaine (1-1-1) at No. 33. The Rangers need a seeding of fourth or higher to score a home section game.
Forest Lake hosted Hastings, which is on a seven-game losing streak at 2-9, on Tuesday and has just three SEC games left: Roseville (3-7), Stillwater (6-5) and East Ridge (7-4).
The Rangers also have one section game remaining against leader Coon Rapids at home, which takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. But first, Forest Lake travels to Roseville for a 5 p.m. game Thursday, Sept. 26.
Elliot said they are hoping to keep moving up in the section ranking before post-season play.
“We definitely want to come out and play well against Coon Rapids, get that upset and move even higher in the section,” Elliot said. “We’d like to get a home game and make it into section play and obviously go all the way if we can.”