Ridgewood tops IHA to win 14th Bergen County tournament title by Bob Shwalb special to The Record
RIDGEWOOD – Put the deed back in the safe.
On Saturday, the Ridgewood girls lacrosse team maintained complete ownership of the Bergen County Tournament crown by dusting Immaculate Heart, 10-2. The Maroons have now won the 14-year-old tournament 14 times.
“Our coaches always tell us that this is a tradition and something that’s never going to be handed to us,” Ridgewood senior captain Cat Roxas said. “We have to fight for every game in this tournament because we’re not just representing Ridgewood … we’re representing the whole program.
“I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re not done anytime soon.”
Those who witnessed Ridgewood’s performance on Saturday would have a hard time arguing that point. The Maroons put up a veritable stone wall on defense and struck like lightning on offense as they built a 6-1 halftime lead that might as well have been 16-1.
Ridgewood’s defense was led by juniors Molly Dunphey, Maddie Sullivan and Casey Haas and sophomore Remy Ricciari. The Maroons pressured the ball with six defenders while Dunphey backed them up and seemed to be everywhere. Dunphey said that together, they almost create the illusion of having more than seven in the back.
“After a while, the other team gets angry and starts yelling at each other,” Dunphey said. “Then their passes start flying everywhere. The more we keep pressuring them, the more frustrated they get and then it’s easier to force turnovers.”
When Ridgewood got the ball it was an unstoppable force. The Maroons scored on six of their first nine possessions and, in most cases, needed little time to do so. Roxas netted a trio of scores as she worked her magic with senior captain Lillie Kloak, who netted a pair. Senior captain Nicole Macolino and junior Jackie Wolak also rippled the cord twice.
“Lillie and I have played together our whole lives,” Roxas said of Kloak. “We have a lot of trust in each other and sometimes, when you have a big-stakes game like this one, you need your senior leaders to spark the offense. We were able to do that and then all the younger girls followed.”
Speaking of youth, Immaculate Heart reached the finals despite having just one senior starter and loads of underclassmen playing huge roles. Sophomore standout Lexi Edmonds scored both Blue Eagle goals while her team got terrific, non-stop efforts from a slew of others, including senior Magdalen Cooney and junior goalie Charlotte Davidson (13 saves).
“For a lot of these girls, this was their first time in a county championship game,” Immaculate Heart coach Sue Montegari said. “They did a great job and I’m really proud of them. They got their feet wet and now we’re moving on …looking forward to bigger and better things.”
That’s what Ridgewood will be doing, too. The powerhouse Maroons are hoping for a huge run in the state tournament and look like a genuine threat to win the whole kit and caboodle.
Last year, Ridgewood lost a one-goal decision to eventual NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner Bridgewater-Raritan in the Group 4 semifinals.
“I think we have a really good shot,” Kloak said of the state’s ultimate prize. “The most important thing is that we have to keep doing all the little things. We have to understand that every game is just as important as the next one.
“We can’t just think TOC. The games will get harder and harder so we always have to be ready.”