The Somerset County Girls Soccer Tournament gets kicked up a notch Saturday, as the top four seeds join the action, hosting quarterfinals games.
For Hillsborough, which hasn’t advanced past the quarterfinals in seven years, this could be the season. The Raiders believe their long road back to their first final since 2005 could be within reach.
“We definitely have a goal to win counties and beat team we’ve lost to in the past in county rounds,” said senior co-captain Kate Swetz, whose team will visit second-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan at 9:30 a.m.. “We definitely have a better chemistry, everyone gets along really well. We all have the same want to win and we all work really hard.”
Hillsborough has been playing its best soccer in years, as it’s avoided the slew of injuries that have stuck in the recent past, and have gotten some nice offensive contribution it has lacked in recent seasons.
The Raiders went a combined 2-12-2 in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division the past two years, but have already won three games – including one over Watchung Hills – and earned draws with Ridge and Montgomery, which had beaten Hillsborough in each of their previous five meetings, spanning four seasons. The Raiders also haven’t had a winning season since 2007, are 5-5-2.
Hillsborough, which made the county final in 2004 and 2005, losing both times to Pingry, fell to Ridge in last year’s quarterfinals and lost to Gill St. Bernard’s in the second round in 2011. The Raiders’ previous trip to the semifinals was 2007 when they fell to Montgomery 4-2.
The third-seeded and two-time defending champ Cougars play host to No. 6 Watchung Hills on Saturday, while top-seeded Pingry faces No. 8 Bernards and No. 4 Ridge battles No. 5 Somerville.
The Union County Tournament also reaches the quarterfinals Saturday, as the top four seeds play their first games. No. 1 Scotch Plains-Fanwood hosts No. 8 Oak Knoll, No. 2 Cranford faces No. 10 Rahway, No. 3 Westfield plays No. 6 Summit, and No. 4 Governor Livingston battles No. 5 Union.
The Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament seeds were released Tuesday, with defending champ Hunterdon Central earning the top seed among Hunterdon/Warren schools. Newton is the top seed among Sussex County squads.
The tournament starts with preliminary-round games Thursday before the rest of the field gets going Saturday.
The quarterfinals are slated for Oct. 19, the semifinals Oct. 26, with the final scheduled for Nov. 2 at Newton.
Here are the preliminary and first-round matchups:
9A-South Hunterdon at 8B-Wallkill Valley, winner at 1A-Hunterdon Central
5A-Delaware Valley at 4B-Lenape Valley
10B-Vernon at 7A-Warren Hills, winner at 2B-Sparta
6B-Sussex Tech at 3A-Belvidere
10A-North Hunterdon at 7B-Kittatinny, winner at 2A-Hackettstown
6A-Phillipsburg at 3B-Pope John XXIII
9B-Hopatcong at 8A-Voorhees, winner at 1B-Newton
5B-High Point at 4A-North Warren
The quest for the championship of the Skyland Conference Delaware Division is on hold for three weeks, as everyone has completed their eight-game conference slates with the exception of Pingry and Montgomery, who will meet Oct. 30 in Bernards Township. If the Big Blue win, they claim the title. A loss or tie would give Hunterdon Central the crown.
Kick Out Cancer
Hillsborough hosts the fourth annual Kick Out Cancer game next Tuesday when it takes on Hunterdon Central at 6 p.m.
The Raiders have raised about $3,000 for the ‘Dance for the Cure’ charity each year, a Hillsborough-based organization that provides assistance to local families struggling with the financial burden of cancer, coach LeeAnn Best said. She said half the money raised will go to the family of Ian Progin, who is the head boys basketball coach and a guidance counselor at Hillsborough.