WEST ORANGE, NJ – For the first time in program history, the West Orange High School girls’ varsity soccer team has won a state sectional tournament championship.
The top-seeded and unbeaten Mountaineers, under head coach Sean Devore, defeated fellow Super Essex Conference-American division foe Livingston, 1-0, in the championship game of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament on Friday, Nov. 9, at Lincoln Field in West Orange.
Senior Nyah Harper scored in the second half off a throw-in by freshman Kiley Capstraw, and junior goalkeeper Cassidy Joyce made five saves to lift the Mountaineers, who improved to 19-0-2 on the season. Livingston was the No. 3 seed.
Devore was ecstatic for his team in making team history.
“It was an absolutely great game against a very talented Livingston team,” said Devore in an email to EssexNewsDaily.com. “I give their players and coaches a ton of credit they played extremely well and could have easily won the game. The game was pretty even through the first half. We ended 0-0. We scored about 2 minutes into the second half. Kiley Capstraw had a long throw that was headed in by Nyah Harper. The rest of the half was a tight and tense game. We defended very well as they pressed forward. With about a minute left they had a set piece that hit off the cross bar but was eventually cleared. We held on for a 1-0 win.
“The coaches are so proud of these kids. When this senior class was in middle school, West Orange didn’t even qualify for the state tournament for three straight years and now here we are sectional champs. These girls have sacrificed so much for this program, I know that the school community is extremely proud of them.”
The Mountaineers advanced to the NJSIAA Group 4 state semifinal against North 2 champion Bridgewater-Raritan on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Franklin HS in Somerset at 7:30 p.m.
The other semifinal pits Central champion Hunterdon Central against South champion Eastern on Nov. 13 at Rowan University at 7:30 p.m.
The NJSIAA Group 4 state championship game will be held at Kean University in Union on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 10:30 a.m.
Bridgewater-Raritan, with a 19-1-1 record, is ranked No. 1 while WOHS is ranked No. 3 in New Jersey.
The Mountaineers have a 39-game unbeaten streak dating to last season when they finished 13-0-5. WOHS was eliminated in penalty-kick shootouts against Montclair Kimberley Academy and Livingston in the ECT semifinals and North 1, Group 4 quarterfinals respectively last season.
West Orange began the state tournament after beating Glen Ridge, 2-1, in overtime to win its first-ever Essex County Tournament championship on Oct. 26
Emma Mitchell, a sophomore, scored on an assist from junior Natalie Nevins in the first half to lift the Mountaineers to a 1-0 win over fifth-seeded Ridgewood in the North 1, Group 4 semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Joyce made six saves for the shutout.
WOHS defeated Livingston in both meetings this season, winning 3-0 on Sept. 20 in a Super Essex Conference-American Division game on Sept. 20 at home and 4-0 on Oct. 24 in the Essex County Tournament semifinals.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from WOHS head coach Sean Devore.
Photos by Steve Ellmore: West Orange (blue uniforms) vs. Livingston, sectional final, Nov. 9.