Ridgewood girls soccer captures second straight sectional title, stays undefeated

RIDGEWOOD − If patience is a virtue, then composure is a mindset. The Ridgewood girls soccer team was both mindful and virtuous, and because of that, they add another piece of hardware to the trophy case.

On the strength of two goals by Isabella Winn sandwiched around a tally by Jessica Kaye, the Maroons remained undefeated and repeated as North 1, Group 4 sectional champions on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat of West Orange.

The Mountaineers retreated into a defensive posture early in the game, looking for the opportune Ridgewood mistake or a counterattack possibility. The posture was frustrating for the Maroons, who struggled to find any offensive consistency despite owning the majority of the possession time. A scoreless first half played into the West Orange plan.

Ridgewood stayed patient, looking for their opportunity, and it finally came in the 47th minute. Lorelei Grassi played a ball into the box that was headed away to the right side. Winn gathered the ball at the top right of the box and sent a line drive shot right to left, finding the left side netting out of the reach of Mountaineer goaltender Hannah Amoyah.

“I had some chances in the first half, but I knew we weren’t going to get many more,” Winn said of the sequence. “The ball came in high and caromed to me. I just had to stay composed. I wanted to go wide and away from the goalie.”

That forced West Orange to break its defensive posture and push forward, opening up some more space for the Maroons. Kaye, who had the game-winning goal in Ridgewood’s Bergen County final championship win, took a pass from Lindsey Devir straight out from the left post and sliced it past Amoyah to center net in the 62nd minute for the all-important second goal.

Winn sealed the game in the 70th minute with her second of the game and 26th of the season, taking an entry pass from Karen Gessman straight on goal and going right over Amoyah, who was helpless to stop the high liner.

What it means

Ridgewood improves to 19-0 and will head to the Group 4 semifinals against either Westfield or Watchung Hills. Westfield ended Ridgewood’s season a year ago in this same game with a 2-0 victory over the Maroons.

West Orange closed its season at 16-4-1, having gone one round further than last season, when they fell in the sectional semifinals.

Inside the game

West Orange had three shots in the first 15 minutes, then went 36 minutes without one as they brought back all 11 players inside the half line. That forced Ridgewood to make a halftime adjustment.

“It was a matter of being patient and wait for the game to break. They were hard to play against,” Ridgewood coach Pete Kay said. “That’s why we adjusted. We wanted to get wider and try and open up space and play the ball to feet. We were serving balls in the air, and it was playing right into their tactic. They were compact; we knew that was their style, and we had to keep probing."

While it didn’t unclutter the box, it did create some more space in the central midfield, where Gessman was playing at a high work rate. Meanwhile, Kaye was overcoming her own frustrations in the first half and playing wide down the left flank.

“I was definitely getting a little frustrated, because I was just putting my head down and running,” Kaye said of her goal. “The second half I got wider and kept my head up. I saw Lindsey had the ball and I just screamed for it. She put it right on me and I just kind of weaved my way in and put it in.”

The fact that both got rewarded for their level of play was not lost on Winn and Kay.

“Karen is someone who flies under the radar a lot,” Kay said. “She’s good at getting the ball through to the box, and while there was a lot of traffic with them playing so compact, she kept working and playing to feet.”

“She (Kaye) does so much for us, getting back on defense and running up and down. I know it gets frustrating for her when she makes a long run and sends in a cross and we don’t finish it, so it was really nice to see her get that goal and have all that hard work she puts in pay off.”

The two of them helped draw defenders and opened some passing lanes that allowed the Maroons to finally break through with a pair of insurance goals.

The game was played at a steady pace, as only one foul was called the entire first half and the teams each had a total of two fouls for the game.

By the numbers

Ridgewood had seven shots in the first half, with only two on goal. Winn’s icebreaker came on the 10th shot of the game and the Maroons had nine more over the rest of the second half. They put nine of the 19 total shots on goal, with Amoyah making six saves for the Mountaineers.

West Orange had eight total shots, the five in the second half all coming after the first goal. They had back-to-back chances in the 51st minute, with Jaiden Schultz and Madison Cyrus going wide 30 seconds apart. They were unfortunate when Schultz clanged the left post in the 68th minute and Haylie Rodriguez smacked the crossbar in the 72nd minute.

The Mountaineers put three shots on net, with Katie Bisgrove making all three saves with ease.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Girls soccer: Ridgewood beats West Orange to win North1, Group 4 sectional title