What: SOMERSET COUNTY GIRLS SOCCER TOURNAMENT FINAL
When/Where: 1 p.m. today/Nap Torpey Athletic Complex, Bridgewater
Who: No. 2 seed Bridgewater-Raritan (14-6) vs. No. 1 seed Ridge (17-0)
How they got here: Ridge bounced No. 8 seed Bernards 5-0 in the quarterfinals and blanked fourth-seeded Hillsborough 4-0 in the semis. Bridgewater-Raritan edged No. 10 Mount St. Mary 2-1 in the quarters, before escaping No. 6 Somerville 2-1 in double overtime in the semifinals.
Ridge Report: This game is a rematch of the 2013 final, won by Ridge in overtime, and this marks the first time either of these teams have been in the final since. The Red Devils are one of only two unbeaten and untied teams in the state (along with Northern Highlands), and after a scare, in which they needed two overtimes to get past Hillsborough on Thursday, Ridge should certainly be completely focused Saturday, especially against a team that played it extremely tough in two regular-season meetings.
“We are rivals for a reason,” Ridge coach Katie Donahue said. “We both want the same thing — in this case, the championship title. We know Bridgewater is a fantastic team and we have tremendous respect for their coaching staff and players.”
The Red Devils can hurt you from anywhere, with a roster loaded with versatile talent. Senior four-year starter Erin Convery, who was recently named to the All-American game, is Ridge’s defensive star, but she has also been a major part of the attack, moving around the formation and tallying nine goals. Same for Shannon Keefe, a defender who has posted nine goals and four assists. Senior keeper Sam Carney has also been stellar, posting 13 shutouts for a team that has allowed just four goals all season.
Chrissy Weyrauch, who delivered the overtime game-winner in the 2013 final, heads the offense, having netted 12 goals and dished out six assists. She’s joined by Julia Lindsey (12 goals, 5 assists), who has been a breakout star for Red Devils this year.
Bridgewater-Raritan report: The Panthers are in search of their first county title since 1995, having come up empty in three tries since, most recently 2013 when they fell to Ridge in overtime. Bridgewater-Raritan continues to be a game-control type of club, relying on stingy defense and making the most of its offensive opportunities, and the Panthers certainly hope to be able to cash in on the few chances the Red Devils allow them Saturday. Ridge beat B-R twice during the regular season, both in tightly contested matches, 1-0 on Sept. 16 and 2-0 on Oct. 20, so the Panthers are hoping third time is the charm.
“It’s the old adage that it’s tough to beat a team three times, so we just want a chance at them,” said Bridgewater-Raritan coach Chris Gerber, whose team had reeled off nine straight victories between losses to the Red Devils. “We know what kind of team they are, we know they’re the best team around, and we’re going to work and come up with something and try to give them a game. These girls know each other, the Ridge girls and the Bridgewater girls, so it’s going to be fun.”
Senior Hayley Soriano, a four-year varsity performer who has enjoyed plenty of success for the Panthers, including a state championship two years ago, leads the way with eight goals and seven assists. Delaney Reilly (8 goals), Jezlyn Jimenez (4 goals, 5 assists) and Abby Ousouljoglou (4 goals) are also key parts of the attack. Erika Lepik, Ashley Skayhan and Jessa Chong lead the defense in front of keeper Alexa Barbagallo, who has notched seven shutouts.
Prediction: Ridge 2-1
– Simeon Pincus can be reached at CNGirlsSoccer@aol.com and on Twitter @SimeonPincus, where he’ll be tweeting live from today’s SCT final