BASKING RIDGE, NJ - When the fifth-ranked Ridge girls’ soccer team in New Jersey took the field following Tuesday's senior night festivities, the Red Devils knew they were facing some tough competition against visiting Hillsborough, themselves ranked No. 17 by NJ.com.
They also knew they were going to have to fill a void the team hasn’t seen in four seasons, senior defender Jennifer Haskel would be on the sidelines and not on the field. The High School All-American suffered a season ending knee injury forcing her out of the remainder of the 2014 campaign.
Hillsborough could only muster a single shot on goal for the game, and scored the game’s first goals a penalty kick. Only 18 minutes into the contest, with most of the play working at midfield, a penalty was called in the corner of the Ridge penalty box along the end line. Hillsborough’s Nicole Russo scored on the penalty kick, giving Hillsborough a 1-0 lead that would hold through the half.
But a new Ridge team came out for the second half and took command of the pitch. “We played a formation we never played,” said Ridge head coach Katie Donahue, “we said we wanted to go out find the back of the net and to do it in regulation was awesome. We haven’t come back from a deficit all season .”
“This was really important for us as we prepare for states,” said Donahue. “I am so proud the way the girls came out fired up in the second half.
And it was junior Chrissy Weyrauch that found the back of the net, not once but twice. “Beautiful technique, a player that looks at it from range and she just buried it, awesome,” Donahue said. “It was textbook for what you want to do.”
The first Ridge goal came from a arching shot that landed behind the goalie and bounced into the net. “It was awesome,” said Weyrauch after the game. “I saw that the goalie was off her line and that she was a few yards out; I knew that if I could just get it over her, it was 50-50. I did not expect that to go in. I wanted to test the keeper because she hadn’t been tested much at that point.”
Regarding her second goal, Weyrauch gave credit to the fine play by one of her teammates. “Kristina Meuller put on some great pressure up there and it was really all her,” said Weyrauch. “She got her (the goalie) off her line and into a position that she had to clear it and she miskicked it. It was just great pressure from Kristina that created that opportunity.”
“When you have players playing with all their heart because they are just so excited to play for their seniors and the seniors playing their last regular season home game under the lights, it’s huge,” Donahue said. “It is a great group of great ladies.”
“We are going to miss these seniors so much, they have been so important to this program for so many years,” added Weyrauch.
The Ridge girls’ soccer team will close out the regular season Thursday at North Hunterdon beginning at 3:45 p.m. Their run at the state championship will begin Tuesday, Nov. 4.