Ramsey finally gets its chance to celebrate by Rich Barton of northjerseysports.com

WASHINGTON TWP. – For any team with championship aspirations the greatest motivational tool comes from watching another celebrate at its expense.

Ramsey had to deal with that in each of the past two seasons, falling first to Northern Valley/Demarest in 2017 and then to Northern Highlands last year in the Bergen County Field Hockey Tournament championship game. In this year’s BCT final the Rams faced a Westwood team that upset Northern Highlands in the semifinals. The Rams refused to watch another team lift the trophy.

Claire Corriston scored an early goal, the Rams caught a lucky break in the final minute and top-seeded Ramsey held on for its first Bergen County Tournament title since 2016 with a 1-0 triumph over third-seeded Westwood in the rain on Sunday at Westwood Regional High School.

“Coming up short the last two years has driven us all season to not have a disappointment in the county final,” said Corriston. “We had great seasons the past two years but we felt a little empty because we didn’t end up as county champs. This is what we wanted from the first day of practice.”

Ramsey came out on the mission and earned two quick corners, scoring on the latter of those two. Caroline Doherty sent a low-liner in front of the net and Corriston got a stick on it through traffic to knock it home, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead just 2:28 into the game.”

Jen Kristofick and Westwood reached the final by upsetting defending champion Northern Highlands in the semifinals.

“Caroline Doherty does a great job driving the ball off of corners and I just had to get in position,” said Corriston. “I made sure where the goal was behind me and got my stick down so I could re-direct it towards the goal.”

For the remainder of the first half Doherty and Libby Solleder controlled play in the middle of the field and kept the Cardinals on their heels. Westwood keeper Amanda Brandenburg (23 saves) made some big saves to keep her team in it down just a goal at halftime.

The Cardinals went out on the attack following the halftime intermission. Skyla Burke created havoc along the wing with Kate Lukaszcyk and Gianna Santaite both having quality scoring chances in the first five minutes. Ramsey settled things down from there and did allow another shot until a frenetic final minute that saw a disallowed goal and another near goal in the final seconds.

With less than a minute to play a centering pass was tipped up all the over the outstretched blocker of Ramsey goalie Erica Babitts (three saves) and it trickled into the back of the cage for what seemed to be an improbable tying goal. However, a corner was ruled by the official and the goal was waved off. Lukaszcyk got off a final shot but it went wide as Ramsey held on for the Bergen County Tournament crown.

Caroline Doherty provided the assist on Ramsey’s county tournament winning goal.

“That was a goal, we should have tied the game there,” said Westwood head coach Jaclyn Loughner. “But we had other opportunities in the second half and against Ramsey you have to cash in those. We do not have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have a state game tomorrow against Kittatinny. Ramsey is in our section so hopefully we will get another shot at them.”

Ramsey and Westwood are both on the same side of the NJSIAA state tournament bracket in North 1 Group 1. Ramsey is the top seed while Westwood is the No. 5 seed. They could potentially meet in the semifinals with each program looking for a chance to play for a section title.

“All of these games matter now, it’s important to move the ball and set a tone,” said Ramsey head coach Becky Mills. “Westwood is very well-coached and their girls never quit. We had to focus on what we needed to do. We have bought into controlling what we control and that’s how we play. We knew we were capable and that’s what has driven us all year. We seem to always make things interesting. I thought we made good decisions at the right times and I hope that continues as we shoot for a section title.”