GLEN RIDGE NJ – In any other year, the Glen Ridge High School girls’ varsity soccer team would have been declared co-state champions.
The Ridgers played Audubon to Ali0-0 tie through regulation (80 minuteS) and two overtimes (10 minutes each) in the ultimate game of the season – the NJSIAA Group 1 state final.
A penalty-kick shootout, however, had to be conducted to decide a champion.
For the Ridgers, unfortunately, the breaks didn’t go their way, as Audubon won the PKs by a 4-2 score to win the Group 1 state title on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Kean University in Union.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Ridgers finished as NJSIAA Group 1 state runner-up.
This is the first year that the NJSIAA decided that a penalty-kick shootout would decide a state champion if there was a tie in the state final following regulation and two overtimes.
The Ridgers, under 18th-year head coach Oscar Viteri, finished the season with an 11-7-3 record. Because the score was tied after the overtime periods, it is recorded as a tie.
The Ridgers dominated play throughout the game. Glen Ridge had a chance to win it in the first overtime. With about 1:50 left, senior midfielder Jenny Lisovicz delivered a hard, close-range shot. But the Audubon goalie made a sprawling save to keep it a scoreless tie (overtimes are decided by golden goal).
GRHS freshman goalkeeper Elettra Giantomenico did a great job in net and was supported by a strong defense.
Sophomore midfielders Ania Prussak and Tara Feenaghty scored in the PK shootout for the Ridgers.
Audubon finished 17-4-3.
In each of the past three seasons, the Ridgers lost to Shore Regional in the Group 1 state final, all at Kean. It was nearly a fourth straight Glen Ridge-Shore final matchup, but Audubon defeated Shore, 2-1, in the Group 1 state semifinal.
The Ridgers had an incredible run this season. As the 11th seed, they advanced to the Essex County Tournament championship game where they lost to an unbeaten West Orange team, 2-1, in overtime. Following the ECT final, they began their postseason run and won their seventh straight NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament championship. In the sectional final, the third-seeded Ridgers beat fifth-seeded New Providence, 2-0.
The Ridgers then defeated North 1 champion Midland Park, 3-1, in the Group 1 state semifinals on Nov. 13 at Indian Hills in Oakland. Sophomore forward Sydney Mansfield scored two goals; freshman forward Olivia Hoover had a goal and Prussak had an assist for the Ridgers,
Facing a tough schedule while competing against bigger schools in the Super Essex Conference-American Division, the Ridgers started off 2-6 this season. But Glen Ridge recovered and went 9-1-3 the rest of the way, with the loss to West Orange in the ECT final. The other ties in that stretch was against Livingston, 0-0, and in the ECT semifinals when they eliminated No. 2 seed Nutley in penalty kicks.
“We play in a tough conference. It definitely helps us,” said Viteri, moments after the state final ended. “But it came down to (penalty kicks).They’re (Audubon) a gritty team. We possessed; we knocked the ball down; we did some good things.
“We tried to work the ball inside, but I give them credit. I could (understand) how they (Audubon) beat Shore. It just came down to PKs. It’s just fortunate, you know.”
Glen Ridge appeared in the state final for the sixth time in the past seven years. They also faced Shore in 2012 and 2013. Glen Ridge won in 2012, while the two teams were declared co-champs after playing to a tie in 2013.
Indeed, Viteri was proud of his team for another memorable season.
“I am so proud of them,” Viteri said. “Nobody (expected) us here, and they earned it and we did it. It was a nice run.”
Photos by Steve Ellmore
Glen Ridge (white uniforms) vs. Audubon, Group 1 state final, Nov. 18, at Kean University in Union