GLEN RIDGE — The top-seeded Glen Ridge High School boys soccer team, under first-year head coach Austin Alvarado, captured the North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament championship.
The Ridgers defeated third-seeded Technology, 2-1, in the final at Watsessing Park in Bloomfield on Friday, Nov. 8, to improve to an 11-7-1 record.
Senior Matt Whitney scored on a free kick in the first half to tie it 1-1 for the Ridgers. Junior Lucas Costa scored the game-winner on a free kick midway in the second half. GRHS senior Logan Kotronis had three saves.
The Ridgers will face Waldwick, the Section 1 champion, in the Group 1 state semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Passaic County Tech in Wayne at 6 p.m.
It marks the Ridgers’ first North 2, Group 1 title since winning back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. Last season, the Ridgers fell to New Providence in the North 2, Group 1 final.
Alvarado is elated for his team. He said one of the best things about coaching this team is its camaraderie.
“These kids have grown up together and have so many memories; and that’s what it’s about; building on that and just play for each other,” Alvarado said.
The Ridgers’ teamwork also has played a pivotal role in their memorable season.
“A lot of them are contributing,” Alvarado said. “Given our schedule, we had a lot of room to try new things, and that’s what we did. It was never about go out and try to win every game; it was about let’s try to get everybody on the field and let’s see what we can do. In the end, their ability to trust me and trust the process really paid off, because as we see in the state tournament… they are playing very well at the right time, so it’s great.”
The other Group 1 semifinal pits Bound Brook, the Central Jersey champion, against Lindenwold, the South Jersey champion, on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The Group 1 state final is Sunday, Nov. 17, at Kean University.
The Ridgers have won four straight games, all in the sectional tournament.
Ty Rank, a junior, had three goals and sophomore Max Renteria, junior Aidan Shea and junior Lucas Costa each had a goal in the 6-0 win over No. 16 seed Warren Tech in the first round on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Drew Hiner, a junior, had two assists and senior Gavin Robertson, senior Will Livingstone, senior Justin Sweet and junior Nick Garcia each had an assist.
Hiner scored on an assist from Livingstone in the 1-0 win over No. 9 seed Hoboken in the quarterfinals at Watsessing Park on Friday, Nov. 1.
The Ridgers defeated fourth-seeded Dayton, 2-0, in the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Watsessing Park. Travis Burnett, a junior, and Robertson each had a goal. Livingstone, senior Whitney and Hiner each had an assist.
Photos by Steve Ellmore