GLEN RIDGE, NJ – The Glen Ridge High School girls’ varsity soccer team was given a low seed in the Essex County Tournament. But the Ridgers proved they were much better.
The 11th-seeded Ridgers, under 18th-year head coach Oscar Viteri, advanced to the Essex County Tournament championship game against a strong West Orange team that had posted a convincing win over them early in the season.
The Ridgers, this time, gave West Orange a tough battle. Unfortunately, top-seeded West Orange prevailed, 2-1, in the first overtime in the ECT final Friday, Oct. 26, at Caldwell HS to remain unbeaten.
West Orange opened the scoring on Emma Mitchell’s goal at 15:20 of the first half.
Glen Ridge tied it in the second half as Ania Prussak scored on a free kick from 25 yards with 24:48 left in regulation.
The game remained tied and went into overtime before Harper’s heroics ended it, giving the Mountaineers their first-ever county title in the 36-year history of the tournament.
Glen Ridge moved to a 6-7-2 record, while West Orange improved to 15-0-2 and extended its unbeaten streak to 35 games. They were 13-0-5 last season.
The game was a lot more competitive than when the teams met in the second game of the season on Sept. 12, with West Orange winning, 5-1, at Watsessing Park in Bloomfield.
Glen Ridge appeared in the ECT final for the third time in program history and was looking for its first county title. The Ridgers lost in the finals in 2002 and in 2014 against Millburn and Montclair, respectively.
Glen Ridge upset No. 2 seed Nutley in a penalty-kick shootout in the ECT semifinals doubleheader held at Belleville HS on Oct. 24.
After a scoreless first half, Prussak scored to give Glen Ridge a 1-0 lead. Nutley tied it 1-1 with 10 minutes left in regulation. The score remained tied at the end of regulation and two overtimes, forcing a penalty-kick shootout that Glen Ridge won, 5-4. Nutley moved to 10-2-2.
The Ridgers hoped to make a strong run in the postseason. The six-time reigning champion Ridgers, seeded third, were scheduled to host No. 14 seed Delaware Valley in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament on Oct. 30. The winner will face the winner of No. 6 seed Whippany Park and No. 11 seed North Bergen in the quarterfinals on Nov. 2. The semifinals are No. 6 and the final is Nov. 9. Brearley is the No. 1 seed. Hoboken is the No. 2 seed.
Photos by Steve Ellmore
Glen Ridge (white uniforms) vs. West Orange, Essex County Tournament championship game, Oct. 26, at Caldwell