Ridgewood brings home third state title in four years by Sean Farrell of The Record
UNION – The fight will go on for Ridgewood. The state title will go back inside its usual home.
The Maroons became Group 4 champions for the third time in four years and sixth time in a decade after another extraordinary showing at Kean University in Union. Marley Scala scored four goals as Ridgewood outmatched Clearview with a 12-9 win in Saturday’s final. Holding off the Pioneers’ late charge took quite a fight, the inspirational word chosen by the Maroons for their latest game. But the Maroons ran out the clock and into the north endzone, hugging and jumping for joy at their return to the Tournament of Champions.
“It’s awesome to be back in this point in states because our season ended a little short last year,” senior Cat Roxas said. “It’s exciting to keep our season going. We know we have what it takes. We say in the beginning of every season that we have what it takes to come this far. It’s just great to be here and keep it going.”
Ridgewood took back its title with a whole new cast. All 12 goals in the final came from players who had a limited role or none at all a year ago. Lillie Kloak and Nicole Macolino, who extended stellar senior seasons with a hat trick apiece, missed almost all of last spring recovering from ACL injuries. Jackie Wolak (two goals) was at Saddle River Day, while Scala spent most of the time on the Maroon bench. Scala scored as many goals on Saturday as all of last year, when she was left behind in the logjam of Ridgewood talent.
“You really have to put things in perspective,” Scala said. “I’ve worked this hard to get where I am now. Now I can work even harder to get on the field.”
Ridgewood broke open the game with the first five goals, taking advantage of its transition opportunities and inside passes. Scala grew the lead with another two goals as the Maroons took an 8-4 advantage into intermission. Then Clearview came out strong in the second half, clearly unnerved in its second state final berth and first since a 2012 loss to Ridgewood. The comeback fell just short as Kara Rahaim made eight saves and the Maroons’ tenacious backer zone didn’t allow a goal in the final 1:51.
“It’s hard for them to know what’s coming,” Roxas said. “It’s hard for them to scout. They can know that we’ll play a backer. But they don’t know what it’s going to be like until they step foot on the field. That’s why we throw so many teams off.”
Ridgewood (21-3), winners of 14 in a row, takes on Oak Knoll on Wednesday in the Tournament of Champions semifinal. Haddonfield and Moorestown square off in the other game.
“It’s excitement,” Kloak said. “It’s happiness. It’s redemption, but I wouldn’t say that’s the word. Decide is our word this year. I really think that’s the big part. We have to decide Wednesday if we want another game on Saturday. We have to work really, really hard.”
“It’s in every aspect. Do you want to decide to get that ground ball, that draw, that shot? Now that we’re in the Tournament of Champions, do we decide to keep going?”