BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Samantha Vail's goal 6:38 into the first overtime gave unbeaten Bridgewater-Raritan a 1-0 girls soccer victory over Ridge in a meeting of two of the premier teams not only in Somerset County, but in all of New Jersey.
By the time regulation had concluded with a scoreless deadlock, Ridge was in far from optimum shape to face extra time. Not only were the Red Devils down a key player who missed the game for a family obligation, but during the final 10 minutes of regulation, Ridge lost three players to injury and went into overtime on the steamy, 80-degree afternoon without its customary depth.
Bridgewater-Raritan (8-0) had the better of play for much of the opening half, and the early stages of the second half. Ridge keeper Ally Lindsey saved a point-blank shot just three minutes into the second half, then stopped a Panther direct kick on frame with 24:00 left in regulation.
Erin Keefe nearly gave Ridge (5-2) a 1-0 lead off a corner kick with nine minutes left that was saved by Elena Tanga. Ridge lost three players to injury during a rugged seven-minute stretch late in the second half.
Less than three minutes into OT, Lindsey saved a shot by Vail. But with 3:22 showing in the first (and only) OT, Allison Lowrey passed to Vail, who deftly worked her way to clear space just inside the left side of the box and then booted a left-footer into the extreme upper right corner of the net for the decider.
Lindsey turned in an admirable effort in goal for Ridge, stopping seven shots. Tanga had four saves and Mia Phillip one as they split time in goal for BRHS.
The spate of injuries didn't just come at a bad time in the game for Ridge, but also during a stern scheduling week that sees the Red Devils take on three teams ranked among the state's top 15 in a six -day span. Ridge defeated Livingston, 5-0, on Saturday, but now must face top-ranked Northern Highlands of Bergen County Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Basking Ridge.