WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School girls’ varsity soccer team captured its first-ever Essex County Tournament championship in dramatic fashion.
Senior Nyah Harper scored on a header off a throw-in by freshman Kiley Capstraw with 6:19 left in the first overtime to lift the No. 1-seeded Mountaineers to a 2-1 victory over 11th-seeded Glen Ridge in the ECT final held at Caldwell HS on Friday, Oct. 26.
The Mountaineers, under head coach Sean DeVore, remained unbeaten as they improved to 15-0-2 on the season and extended their unbeaten streak to 35 games dating to last season. It was the Mountaineers’ first-ever appearance in the ECT final in the 36-year history of the tournament.
The game was a lot different 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.
In the county final, the Mountaineers 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 yard with 24:48 left in regulation.
The game remained tied and went into overtime before Harper’s heroics ended it, giving the Mountaineers the county title.
DeVore was elated for his team.
“It was a really great game and we give Glen Ridge a ton of credit,” he said. “They played us extremely well and could have easily won the game. In the end, the girls showed a lot of heart and resiliency. We went up 1-0 on a great goal by Emma Mitchell. They scored on a great set piece to make it 1-1. In overtime, Kiley Capstraw had a long throw headed in by Nyah Harper for our first county championship in school history.
“The coaches are extremely proud of the girls. These are the moment that show why high school sports are so great.”
In the ECT semifinals doubleheader held at Belleville HS on Oct. 24, the Mountaineers defeated fifth-seeded Livingston, 4-0, Oct. 24.
Harper scored two goals; senior Hannah Villasin and Mitchell each had a goal; junior Natalie Nevins had two assists and sophomore Kaya Schultz and Capstraw each added an assist for West Orange.
The Mountaineers hoped to make a strong run in the state tournament. West Orange is the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament and was scheduled to host No. 16 seed Bloomfield in the first round on Oct. 30. The winner will face the winner of No. 9 seed Mount Olive and No. 8 seed Bergen County Tech in the quarterfinals on Nov. 2. The semifinals are Nov. 6 and the final is No. 9. Montclair is the No. 2 seed; Livingston is the No. 3 seed and Randolph is the No. 4 seed.
Photos by Steve Ellmore
West Orange (blue uniforms) vs. Glen Ridge, Essex County Tournament championship game, at Caldwell, Oct. 26