Girls Soccer: 2015 NJSIAA State Finals Preview

Colts Neck's Amanda Visco kicks the ball in the 2015 Shore Conference Tournament Final against Freehold Townhsip on Oct. 31, 2015 at the Summerfield Elementary School

Colts Neck’s Amanda Visco kicks the ball in the 2015 Shore Conference Tournament Final against Freehold Townhsip on Oct. 31, 2015 at the Summerfield Elementary School

The NJSIAA girls soccer state finals for public schools on Saturday will be a historic day for the Shore Conference overall.

According to NJSIAA girls soccer championship history, the Shore Conference has never had more than three schools competing for a girls soccer state title in any year before this year. Also, the Shore Conference has never had more than three girls soccer programs win a state title in the same year.

So, Saturday could be the greatest day in Shore Conference girls soccer history, if all four Shore Conference teams (Shore Regional, Holmdel, Colts Neck and Freehold Township) come home with that prestigious NJSIAA trophy.

So, now that we’ve established that Saturday is a day not to miss, let’s take a deeper look at the matchups in Groups I, II, III and IV at Kean University (1000 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ).


Shore Regional (20-4-1) vs Glen Ridge (17-5-1), 10 a.m.

The Blue Devils are making their fourth consecutive trip to the Group 1 state final, and they have one prior championship, in 2013 when they were co-champions with Glen Ridge. Shore’s leading scorers are Frankie McDonough (22 goals, 13 assists), Hannah Birdsall (17 goals, 12 assists), Katie Stephens (16 goals, 16 assists) and Shannon Bonner (eight goals, 18 assists). Shore’s goalie is Katie Colaguori, who has 117 saves. As luck would have it, the Blue Devils are playing the Ridgers, a team they are 0-1-1 against in the state finals. Shore Regional’s worst-kept secrets have been the emergence of freshmen McDonough and Birdsall, as the duo have performed at a high-level this season. The Blue Devils are experienced with Colaguori, Bonner, Devon McDonough, Stephens, Sophie Hauritz and others returning from last season. Meanwhile, Glen Ridge is seeking its fourth state title in the school’s fifth appearance in the Group I state final. Glen Ridge’s leading scorers are Tominson Kennedy (25 goals, nine assists), Katie Liu (nine goals, six assists) and Lindsay Jaiyesimi (nine goals), and Ridgers goalie Ryanne Ege had 135 saves. After losing the first two games of the season to Freehold Township (which is playing for the Group IV state title) and to Point Boro (which lost to Holmdel in the Group II state semifinals), the Blue Devils are 20-2-1 in their last 23 games this season. Shore Regional has struggled against Glen Ridge in the two previous meetings by scoring one goal combined, but the Blue Devils, who have won six games in a row, have too many talented scorers this year to go along with a solid defense this time.

Girls soccer: Shore rallies into Group I final

Sherlon’s Pick:  Shore Regional 3, Glen Ridge 1

Group II

Holmdel (16-6-1) vs Ramapo (19-3-2), 12:30 p.m.

The Hornets are the defending Group II state champions, and they are trying to become only the fifth Shore Conference girls soccer program to win back-to-back state titles, to join Brick Memorial, Freehold, Toms River South and Red Bank Catholic. Holmdel’s Gabby Bair needed only 12 points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer at the start of this season, and she’s more than surpassed that with 18 goals and 15 assists. Other leading scorers also include Hannah Lee (21 goals, nine assists) and Katie Flynn (three goals, 11 assists).  The team’s goalie Mattie Milkowski had 156 saves this season, and the team has eight shutouts, with two coming in the NJSIAA tournament. The Hornets have won five games in a row and have also won an NJSIAA game this season via penalty kicks, but if the Group II state final is tied after two overtimes, it will be a draw with Ramapo. It is a rematch of last year’s Group II final in which Holmdel won 1-0, and the Raiders will be looking to avenge that loss and earn their first title since 2008 when they won the Group III that year. Ramapo has won nine previous state titles. Ramapo’s leading scorers are Sarah Scire (11 goals, four assists), Olivia Kraebel (eight goals, seven assists) and Nikki Butler (eight goals, one assist). Ramapo goalie Lizzy Stellakis had 63 saves and 18 shutouts this season. The Raiders do look more balanced on offense and appear to have a better defense, but Holmdel looks like it is on a path to destiny just like last year.

Holmdel’s boys and girls soccer teams advance to Group II state finals

Sherlon’s pick: Holmdel 2, Ramapo 1 (OT)

Group III

Colts Neck (23-0-1) vs Northern Highlands (22-0-1), 3 p.m.

It is the battle of the unbeaten teams and a rematch of last year’s Group III state final, which Northern Highlands won 4-0. This will probably be the most exciting game of the Saturday slate, as each squad has talented players on the roster. You can’t mention Colts Neck and not mention 2014 Asbury Park Press Girls Soccer Player of the Year Frankie Tagliaferri in the next breath. She’s the most electrifying player in the Shore Conference this season and has a team-leading 27 goals and 19 assists.  The Cougars offense is also supported by Bridgette King (24 goals, 11 assists), Amanda Visco (10 goals, 1 assist), Allison Russo (nine goals, six assists) and Kayla Lee (five goals, 15 assists). The Cougars’ goalie is Lauren Feaster, and she had 59 saves and 18 shutouts this season with the help of Visco, who leads the defensive line. In the past two months, Colts Neck has outscored its opponents 59-3, but the Cougars will be facing their most difficult opponent of the season and a heavy favorite to win the Group III title. As good as Colts Neck has been this season, Northern Highlands has been slightly better, with its goalie Kalya Klatt only having to make 39 saves because of the strength of the team’s defense, which hasn’t allowed a goal in two months and has amassed 22 shutouts this season. Meanwhile, Northern Highlands’ offense has cranked out an impressive 59 goals in the past two months. The Highlanders’ leading scorers are Casey Richards (18 goals, 17 assists), Ariel Somple (14 goals, three assists) and Eva Hurm (14 goals, 15 assists). This game has the ingredients for the best defensive game maybe in the history of the NJSIAA girls soccer state finals, so don’t expect too many goals.

Soccer: Colts Neck girls, Toms River South boys in final

Sherlon’s pick: Northern Highlands 1, Colts Neck 0 (2OT)

Group IV

Freehold Township (20-4-1) vs Ridge (23-0), 5:30 p.m.

The Patriots are enjoying arguably the best season in school history, as they are in the school’s first state final after winning the school’s first sectional title this season. It has been a golden year for the Patriots, who have won five in a row and have given up only two goals in the NJSIAA tournament. Freehold Township’s leading scorers are Nicole Whitley (20 goals, 18 assists), Jasmine Colbert (14 goals, 8 assists), Nicole Sasso (five goals, one assist), Olivia Schwartz (five goals, four assists) and Lacey Powell (three goals, eight assists). The Patriots’ goalie is Kaela Chadziutko, who has made 108 saves and has 14 shutouts this season. The Patriots might have the most athletic pair of twins — Jasmine and Jada Colbert — in the state, and they could have a big moment in this game. The Patriots’ season resume is solid, with two wins over Shore Regional, which is playing in the Group I state final, and one win over Toms River South, which played in the Group III state semifinals, and with losses to Colts Neck, which is playing in the Group III state final, and Pennington, which is a solid program. So the Patriots have played championship-caliber teams this season, but Ridge might be the best team they’ll face. The Red Devils haven’t been tied during their undefeated season, so Freehold Township has a difficult task to overcome to slow down Shannon Keefe (15 goals, six assists), Julia Lindsey (15 goals, five assists), Chrissy Weyrauch (15 goals, nine assists) and Erin Convery (10 goals, 3 assists). The Red Devils defense has 18 shutouts led by goalie Samantha Carney’s 54 saves.

Nicole Whitley goal propels Freehold Twp. to state final

Sherlon’s pick: Ridge 2, Freehold Township 1

Shore Conference girls soccer programs that have won state titles

Group IV

Brick Memorial 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999

Group III

Freehold 2007, 2006

Toms River South  2002, 2001

Middletown South 2000 (co-champion)

Group II

Holmdel 2014

Rumson-Fair Haven 2013, 2008

Group I

Shore 2013 (co-champion)

Non-Public A

Red Bank Catholic 2010 (co-champion), 2005 (co-champion), 2003, 2002

St. John Vianney 2000

Non-Public B

St. Rose 2010

Shore Conference girls soccer programs that have appeared in state finals

Group IV

Brick Memorial 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999

Freehold Township 2015

Group III

Freehold 2008, 2007, 2006

Toms River South  2013, 2002, 2001

Middletown South 2000

Colts Neck 2015, 2014, 2003

Wall 1998

Lacey 1997

Group II

Holmdel 2015, 2014

Rumson-Fair Haven 2013, 2008

Freehold 2001

Group I

Shore 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Rumson-Fair Haven 1999

Non-Public A

Red Bank Catholic 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002

St. John Vianney 2004, 2001, 2000

Non-Public B

St. Rose 2013, 2012, 2010, 1999

Mater Dei 2011

Sherlon Christie:

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