Photos by Steve Ellmore. Glen Ridge (red uniforms) vs. Shore, NJSIAA Group 1 state final, Nov. 18, at Kean University, Union.
UNION, NJ – After losing to Shore in the NJSIAA Group 1 state championship in each of the past two seasons, the Glen Ridge High School varsity girls’ soccer team certainly was looking for payback.
The Ridgers held a two-goal lead in the second half after senior Lindsay Jaiyesimi scored her third goal of the game on a breakaway with 24:21 remaining in regulation.
But Shore stormed back with three unanswered goals, with Julie Eichenbaum scoring the tying and game-winning goals, to beat the Ridgers, 5-4, in the NJSIAA Group 1 final on Saturday morning, Nov. 18, at Kean University in Union.
After Shore’s Frankie McDonough scored on a direct kick to cut the Ridgers’ lead to 4-3 with 20:27 left, Eichenbaum tied it with 3:09 remaining. Eichenbaum then scored with just nine seconds left in regulation to win it.
Glen Ridge, under head coach Oscar Viteri, ended its stellar season with a 15-4-1 record, including winning the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament championship for the sixth consecutive season.
The Ridgers had outscored their opponents, 24-0, in five postseason games prior to Saturday’s final.
Sophomore Tara Feenaghty, who scored in double overtime in the 1-0 win over Mountain Lakes in the Group 1 state semifinals four days earlier, gave the Ridgers a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick with 23:39 left in the first half. Shore tied it 1-1 on Hannah BIrdsall’s goal at 22:27. Jaiyesimi scored to give Glen Ridge a 2-1 with 19:05 remaining in the half. Jaiyesimi scored again to make it 3-1 with 7:55 left in the half. Birdsall scored her second of the game to cut it to 3-2 with 6:49 left in the half.
In the second half, Jaiyesimi recorded her hat trick as she broke free and beat the Shore goalie, one-on-one, to give the Ridgers a 4-2 lead. But Shore rallied to win the title.
GRHS senior goalkeeper Victoria Woznick made 12 saves.
It was the third straight year and the fifth time in six years that the teams met in the Group 1 state final.
Shore defeated Glen Ridge in the Group 1 title game in each of the last two years, winning 2-1 in double overtime in 2015 and 3-2 last season, both at Kean. In 2012, Glen Ridge defeated Shore, 2-0. The teams played to a 1-1 tie in the 2013 final and were declared as co-champions. Both the 2012 and 2013 finals were held at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
This year’s tournament run started after Glen Ridge lost to Montclair Kimberley Academy, 2-1, in overtime in the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals.
After the game, Viteri reflected on the season. Before the season started, the team had some “patches to fill,” but managed to have a great regular season and postseason run, said Viteri.
“We had a great run,:” said Viteri, who completed his 17th year at the helm. “We won some big games and the leadership was tremendous.”
Despite the heartbreaking ending, Viteri was proud of his team’s effort in the final.
“As a coach, (I thought) the effort was there,” said Viteri. “They played hard. They left it on the the field. (There were) tough bounces in the last 10 minutes, and that’s the game.. But I’m proud of them. It was a great season, going back to the final. Hopefully, we make this a habit. Keep making it a habit.”
For Viteri, this season was another special one.
“It was great. A nice set of (players) from the seniors, all the way down,” he said. “They’re just good kids. Every team I’ve had, they are a bunch of good kids. They work hard. Regardless of the skill level, they just work hard. You couldn’t ask anything more from them. I’m proud of them.”