Who: No. 1 seed Montgomery (16-1-2) vs. No. 2 Ridge (11-1-4)
When/Where: 5 p.m. today/Manville High School
How they got here: Montgomery blasted No. 9 Bernards 7-0 in the quarterfinals and topped No. 4 Bridgewater-Raritan 3-1 in the semis. Ridge beat No. 7 Hillsborough in the quarters and edged No. 3 Watchung Hills in PKs 2-1 (3-1) in the semis.
Report: Making its fifth finals appearance since 2006, Montgomery has won three titles in that span and the defending champ is fired up to get a second crack at Ridge, which is the only team to hold the Cougars scoreless this season. The teams played to a 0-0 draw Sep. 15, quite the defensive feat for Ridge, as Montgomery boasts the area’s top offense (4.6 goals per game). The attack is led by junior Colby Ciarocca, who leads the area with 21 goals and 14 assists. Joining her is Clemson-University bound Catrina Atanda and freshman Marissa Kowalski, each of whom has tallied 12 goals and five assists. Central midfielder Andrea Niper (9 goals), who is headed for U of Buffalo, keeps everything organized and moving. The defense is no slouch, having allowed just 0.9 goals per game and posted seven shutouts. It is led by junior Katherine Lynch, the central defender in front of keeper Rebecca Ravitz.
Ridge Report: Making its first final appearance since winning the 2009 crown, the Red Devils have more SCT titles (nine) than any other program since the tournament’s inception in 1985. While Montgomery leads the area in offense, no team has allowed fewer goals than Ridge, which have let in just nine and posted 12 shutouts. In fact, prior to Tuesday’s 2-1 double-overtime loss to powerhouse Livingston and Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Franklin, no team had scored more than once against the Red Devils in any single game. Senior Nicole Bates leads the unit in front of keeper Rachel Axt, with freshman Erin Convery being a key contributor, along with Brittany Sheehan. Jenny Haskel, who often contributes offensively, as well, has also chipped in on defense. Offensively, Haskel and Alex Weyrauch have led the way, with Gigi Cifelli being a major contributor with her big leg and mammoth throw-ins.
Prediction: Montgomery 2-1 (OT)
Staff Writer Simeon Pincus