Akman’s goal in 2OT leads Demarest to upset of No. 1 Ramsey for Bergen County title by Kevin T. Czerwinski special to The Record
ALLENDALE – Orcin Akman seems to be well suited for the role of hero.
The Northern Valley at Demarest senior proved yet again on Sunday that she isn’t fazed by the moment, scoring the winning goal with 4:02 left in double overtime as the Norsewomen stunned top-seeded Ramsey, 1-0, at Northern Highlands to win the Bergen County field hockey championship for the first time since 2001.
Akman, who scored the double-overtime winner in last Sunday’s semifinal victory over Westwood, picked up a loose ball and sprinted down the right side of the field, weaving her way between a pair of defenders before banging home a shot on a reverse. It marked the end of a stunning game in which the Rams (15-2) dominated from start to finish, doing everything but put the ball in the net.
The win also completes a rebirth for NV/Demarest under coach Mollie Kearns. The third-seeded Norsewomen (10-6-1) won two games two years ago and five games last year.
“It feels so amazing to finally be the champs,” Akman said. “It hasn’t been like this since 2001. Two years ago, everyone in school thought we were a joke. They thought that field hockey wasn’t even a sport. Some of the other teams [in school] were saying your record is terrible. This year I wanted to have one of the best records among the fall sports teams.”
The game also marked the end of the Ramsey/Northern Highlands domination in the Bergen County finals. Either the Rams or the Highlanders had won the County title in each of the last 11 years with Ramsey earning the last three. While the Rams certainly looked throughout the game as if they were going to extend that streak, a failure to capitalize on multiple opportunities, including a first-half penalty shot, proved critical.
Ramsey was awarded a penalty stroke at the 24:49 mark of the first half. Aimee Leto, who was three-for-three on penalty strokes this season – including one in the semifinals – fired the shot into NV/Demarest goalie Sophia Mottola’s pads, though. It was the first of many big saves for Mottola, who played a spectacular game.
“When you don’t score, you can’t win games,” Ramsey coach Becky Fantry said. “We dominated and we had our chances but we didn’t score and they did. I really wasn’t worried because I figured we would connect and find the space. We didn’t.
“We didn’t take advantage of our corners. We didn’t get the multiple opportunities like we usually do. Again, they scored and we didn’t and that’s what it came down to.”
Kearns – seeing how the Rams were dominating – broached the subject of holding on for a tie with her team between the overtimes but she was rebuffed. Had the two teams been tied at the end of the second overtime they would have be declared co-champions.
“They said we’re not here to be co-champs,” Kearns said. “This is unreal.”