The Glen Ridge girls soccer team spoiled Shore Regional’s first trip to the NJSIAA Group I final.
Glen Ridge scored two goals, one in each half, and Shore couldn’t break through Glen Ridge’s defense en route to a 2-0 loss at The College of New Jersey on Sunday morning.
The Blue Devils (15-7-1) were the only Shore Conference girls soccer team playing for a state title on Sunday and they ran into Glen Ridge’s tough defense.
“They came out of their end of the field two or three times in the first half and one of those times was a goal,” Shore coach George Moutis said.
Glen Ridge got its only score of the first half at 13:31 on a corner kick play.
Freshman Tomison Kennedy took the corner kick from the left side of the field and launched a shot to the right side of the net. Junior Victoria Finlay waited for the ball’s arrival and jumped into the air and headed the ball in for a 1-0 lead.
At halftime, Glen Ridge had five shots to Shore’s two shots and that’s all the Ridgers (15-5-2) needed to clinch the school’s second state title and first since 2001. Glen Ridge also made its third appearance a state final with the last appearance coming in 2007.
“For the second half, I told the girls that we have to keep up with possession but we have to play more direct. Play more to the feet of our forwards, play more of a give and go to get inside their 18,” Moutis said. “They had more people in the back and every time one of our players got the ball there was probably two players on her. They made it a little bit difficult but that’s the game.”
While Glen Ridge’s defense kept Shore off the scoreboard in the second half, its offense capitalized on the one shot on goal it had in the final 40 minutes. Senior Claire Malone passed the ball to senior Paige Smith and Smith tapped the ball into the lower right corner for a 2-0 lead at 59:46.
“Every single one of us gave it our all today and as seniors that’s all we could ask for,” said senior midfielder Caroline Slater. “It was an incredible season. The best Shore Regional girls soccer has ever had.”
One of those seniors is goalie Amanda Olsen, who finished with three saves. Meanwhile, Glen Ridge freshman goalie Ryanne Ege made five saves. Each team had six shots.
The Blue Devils had an impressive run in the NJSIAA Tournament starting with the Central Jersey Group I bracket. They won three games in the bracket and outscored opponents 17-2, including a 5-1 victory over Metuchen in the final. In the Group I semifinal against Haddon Heights at St. Augustine Prep, they won 2-1 to earn their first trip to a state final.
“Our seniors, most of them, have been with me for four years. They are a tremendous group of girls with great character and it is very difficult to see these girls go,” Moutis said. “I know they are going to do well in college because they are also great students.