GLEN RIDGE – To Glen Ridge High School senior Tomison Kennedy, the combination of athletics and academics was simply perfect.
Indeed, the Glen Ridge High School senior couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend one of the finest educational institutions in the country while playing a sport that she loves.
Kennedy last week signed with Princeton University to continue her soccer career.
“I chose Princeton because it is academically challenging and is athletically competitive,” said Kennedy in an emai. “Beyond playing Division 1, I was very interested in getting an excellent education, which Princeton clearly offers. After my first visit, I fell in love with the school, the coaching staff, and the surrounding town, making it impossible to turn them down.”
Kennedy enjoyed a stellar four-year soccer career for the Ridgers, scoring a whopping 84 goals and dishing out 36 assists to become the second-leading scorer in GRHS program history behind 2003 graduate Rita Massot, who had 165 goals.
This past fall, Kennedy had 25 goals and nine assists to help the Ridgers capture their fourth consecutive state North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 tournament championship, scoring two goals against Hasbrouck Heights in the sectional final as GRHS won, 4-1.
In the state Group 1 semifinal, Kennedy scored the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Kinnelon as the Ridgers avenged their loss to Kinnelon in the 2014 state Group 1 semifinal.
That sent the Ridgers to the state Group 1 championship for the third time in four years, all against Shore Regional. GRHS, unfortunately, lost a heartbreaking 2-1 double-overtime decision to Shore Regional at Kean University to finish with a 17-6-1 record.
As a freshman in 2012, Kennedy had an assist in the 2-0 win over Shore Regional in the state championship game at The College of New Jersey as the Ridgers capped a 15-5-2 season.
The following season, Kennedy scored a goal in the state Group 1 final against Shore Regional at The College of New Jersey as the teams played to a 1-1 tie and shared the state championship. GRHS finished with a 15-7-2 record.
In 2014, Kennedy helped the Ridgers advance to the Essex County Tournament championship game where they lost to Montclair.
Kennedy is a three-time first team All-Super Essex Conference honoree and a three-time All-Group 1 state selection.
Kennedy will always cherish her playing career at GRHS, especially the bonds she formed with her teammates and coaching staff.
“The best thing about playing for Glen Ridge was the incredible friendships I made with the girls on the team along the way; and knowing that at the end of each season, everyone was committed to each other and to fighting side by side to make it to the State Championship,” she said. “I loved the environment our coaching staff provided for us. It helped us grow as people, as well as players and as a team. It was an unbelievable experience to step onto the field, especially in big games, with girls who were willing to play each games like it was their last. They never gave less than best!”
GRHS head coach Oscar Viteri said it was a joy to coach Kennedy.
“To me, she was a gifted player since her freshman year,” said Viteri, who has been at the Ridgers helm since 2001 and also led the team to a state Group 1 title in his first year. “As soon as she walked on the field her freshman year, it was kind of like the puzzle piece that was missing, because in the years before, we always did well, but we just needed a little edge in the center spot and she brought that along since her freshman year. She has been my leading scorer since her sophomore year for us. It was pleasure coaching her; a very coachable player. She is a smart player on the field, always thought two steps ahead before she received the ball, so that was always an advantage for us, to have a player like that on the field.”
Viteri also was happy about Kennedy’s decision to attend Princeton. Last fall, Princeton finished 14-4-1 overall and won the Ivy League title with a 6-0-1 league mark.
“I think it’s a great fit for her,” said Viteri. “I think she’ll do very well at the next level. If she does what she did on the high school level at the next level, she has a bright future.”
Indeed, Kennedy is looking forward to continuing her career at Princeton.
“I have many goals at Princeton—to take advantage of the outstanding opportunities the school offers; to expand my mind and explore my potential in the classroom; and to be an asset on a team of talented soccer players and aid in winning an Ivy League Title and advance far into the NCAA Tournament,” she said.