WARREN, NJ — After limiting its opponent's opportunities with a sterling defensive effort for 80 minutes, the Ridge boys soccer team lost, 1-0, to Watchung Hills on a head ball less that two minutes into overtime Saturday afternoon on the road.
Just 1:10 into the first and only OT session, Jake Noerr crossed the ball to Matthew Dumiec in the box and Dumiec went up and headed the ball from the right side just past Ridge keeper Bryan Landadio to snap the scoreless tie.
Landadio had staved off a threat by Watchung Hills with 4:45 left in the second half when he went to his left and made a spectacular, fully extended diving save after Watchung Hills (1-3) had been awarded a penalty kick.
Ridge (1-3-1) had a chance late in the game, too, but the Red Devils' free kick attempt from the left side missed the mark and the contest remained scoreless.
Ridge outshot the Warriors, 10-4, as the Red Devils' back line limited Watchung Hills' chances severely for the first 81 minutes.
"Regarding our back line, I can't say enough about how hard they work and how vital they were today in giving us a chance to win," Ridge head coach Enzo Minicozzi said. "We've had two starters go down already this year to injuries, juniors Zach Perna and Juan Arcos, and our defense has not let it faze them in the least. They held their own today and all season in what is no doubt the toughest conference in the state."
Ridge's ability to maintain its toughness in the back and then move the ball forward impressed Minicozzi.
"I liked how our back line stepped in physically, made their tackles, and then advanced the ball into the midfield," he said. "We have a few players that we can maneuver into different positions which helps when players go down, as they did today. Senior Nick Beckman and junior Kevin Landadio play for us in the middle, and the trio of senior Kevin Lopez and juniors Jack Parker and Ethan Heinemann play on the outside for us."
After halftime, the Red Devils spent more of the second half on the attack.
"Overall, I felt we played a good game, and created enough chances to win. Our mentality after the first half was to maintain more possession and keep the ball in their end more, which I felt we did," Minicozzi said. "Credit to Watchung Hills on a strong game and the goal to win it. Every game in our conference is a battle."
The next of those battles comes up for Ridge Wednesday afternoon across town at Pingry.