GLEN RIDGE – The Glen Ridge High School girls’ varsity soccer team may not have achieved its final goal of winning a state championship, but head coach Oscar Viteri knows his Ridgers have much to be proud of.
“This was such a tremendous year,” said Viteri, whose team finished the season with a 17-6-1 record after falling in the state Group 1 title game to Shore Regional on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Kean University. “Our girls came into the season focused and they wanted to get to the state final and that’s exactly what they did. Last year we lost to Kinnelon (in the state Group 1 semifinals) and this year our girls were hungry to get back there.”
This season, GRHS finished second in the Super Essex Conference-American Division and lost to Montclair Kimberley Academy in the semifinals of the Essex County Tournament.
“We had a great run,” Viteri said. “Each year my goal is to get to a sectional final and take it from there and we did that when we defeated Hasbrouck Heights 4-1. That win gave my senior captains a fourth straight sectional title and that’s just an amazing achievement.”
In the rematch against Kinnelon, Viteri said his team finally had its chance to avenge last year’s loss and that chance would not be denied. GRHS defeated Kinnelon, 1-0, in the state Group 1 semifinals at Millburn High on Nov. 17.
“Our girls played awesome in that match and it was a just a solid overall performance,” said the coach.
GRHS then fell to Shore Regional by a score of 2-1 in double overtime. “We knew Shore Regional would be tough and they’d be strong, and while we’re disappointed that we couldn’t win it all, we know our players have nothing to be ashamed of. I can’t say enough about our girls.”
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Viteri was proud of his team’s effort in the state final.
“Our girls did our best and I’m so proud of them and their efforts,” he said. “After trailing 1-0 at halftime, we played so much better in the second half and scored the equalizer on a set play with about 15 minutes left. It was back and forth after that as they had some opportunities and we had some opportunities, but with about seven minutes to go in the second OT, they then scored off a corner kick. It was disappointing and I know how bad our girls wanted it, but it was a great game and I’m so proud of this team. The leadership was outstanding and we definitely accomplished a great deal.”
Coincidentally, this was the third time GRHS played Shore Regional in the state championship. They played in 2012 and 2013. Glen Ridge won in 2012 by a score of 2-0. They both played to a 1-1 tie in 2013, so they were both co-champs as there is no penalty-kick shootout in the state championship games.
Notably, Viteri led GRHS to three state championships. The other state title came in 2001 in his first year at the helm.
Also to note, Tomison Kennedy, Emily Gill and goalkeeper Ryanne Ege are the three graduating seniors who will leave GRHS with four sectional state playoff titles.