Emma Christus scored two goals, the second coming deep into the second half, to help the Bernards High School field hockey team advance to the semifinals of the Somerset County Tournament, besting Ridge 4-2 Saturday afternoon at Olcott Field.
The Mountaineers will take on top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan next Saturday with a spot in the SCT Finals on the line. The Panthers have knocked Bernards out of the SCT four years in a row.
Bernards coach Sara Falzarano knows her squad will have to play much better next week to knock out Bridgewater-Raritan.
“We have to play our ‘A game’ and we can’t come out like we did today,” Falzarano said.
“We have to come out and play 60 minutes of strong hockey. The county tournament is the hardest tournament for us to win. We’re a small school and they’re a huge school and that’s a big advantage for them.”
Christus’ second goal pushed the Bernards lead to 3-1 with 16:52 to play, but Ridge didn’t go quietly.
Elizabeth Behrins blasted home a goal two minutes later to cut the advantage to 3-2, but the Red Devils couldn’t come up with any more offense the rest of the way.
Sam Siegel tallied for the second time in the second half at the 12:15 mark to give Bernards the 4-2 advantage.
Seigel also found the net earlier in the second stanza, hammering home a cross from Lauren Crane at the 19:09 mark, breaking a 1-1 deadlock.
The game was tied 1-1 at halftime after both teams held the ball for good portions of play. Bernards got on the board first when Christus ripped home a goal from 10 yards out, past a diving attempt by Ridge’s keeper.
The Red Devils had all kinds of chances to get even, hitting the post and missing a wide-open net before Abby Behrins connected on a penalty stroke with six minutes remaining before intermission.
But Bernards carried the play in the second half, thanks in large part to an adjustment that Falzarano made between halves.
“The main difference was our passing and making solid passes to each other,” Falzarano said. “We are a very solid passing team and we focus on that a lot and we weren’t making the right decisions in the first half. We had a really flat first 30 minutes but we were able to make adjustments at halftime and during timeouts to make a difference in the play. But in the second half we came out looking a lot better.”
Mountaineers keeper Erin O’Brien made her 200th career save during the second half.
In other SCT action:
Bridgewater-Raritan 6, Franklin 0: Rachel Yaney had two goals and one assist, Lindsay Alvarez scored two goals and Cat Caro notched one goal and three assists to lift top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan.
The Panthers (12-1) will play host to fourth-seeded Bernards in Saturday’s semifinals.
Janelle Melecio stopped 18 shots from eighth-seeded Franklin (6-5).
Pingry 3, Watchung Hills 0: Second-seeded Pingry scored twice in the second half to put away seventh-seeded Watchung Hills (5-6) and advance to the semifinals to play Montgomery on Saturday.
Brigid Bruno, Erin Butrico and Emery Sorvino all scored for the Big Blue (8-2).
Montgomery 1, Hillsborough 0: Philly Lumsden scored the game’s lone goal, helping the third-seeded Cougars past sixth-seeded Hillsborough.
Natalie Colonna assisted on the goal, which came at the 2:45 mark of the first half.