BRIDGEWATER, NJ - When Chrissy Weyrauch told the media last week how much Ridge High School's meeting with Bridgewater-Raritan in the Somerset County girls soccer tournament championship game this weekend seemed like "deja vu" after the same teams had met in the 2013 final, even she didn't realize how true her words would turn out to be.
For the second time in three years, Ridge won the county tournament with a 1-0, double-overtime victory over Bridgewater-Raritan on Saturday. And, for the second time in three years, it was Weyrauch who scored the winning goal. She beat Bridgewater with an overtime goal as a sophomore.
It was the 15th shutout of the season for Ridge (18-0), one of only two undefeated, untied teams in New Jersey. But that "untied" title seemed like it was about to go by the boards until Weyrauch, a senior forward, tucked in a rebound shot at close range from the right side of the net to end an exhausting affair with 1:58 showing on the clock in the second overtime. A moment earlier, Weyrauch had taken another shot only to have Bridgewater goalie Alexa Barbagallo, who turned in a brilliant effort with 11 saves, reject it with a diving save. But the rebound came right back to Ridge's tall redhead, who made good on her second chance.
"I couldn't believe (the ball came back to me). I thought it went out of bounds," Weyrauch said of the game-winning shot. "I knew then that that was the moment. On the first shot, it was an awesome ball from (teammate) Shannon Keefe, but their goalie made an awesome save on it. The second shot had a strange angle and it was just a matter of getting my footing."
Ridge dominated the action for much of the marathon, with a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal, but, as was the case on both regular-season meetings with the Panthers (14-7)--won by Ridge by scores of 1-0 and 2-0--even though the Red Devils spent most of the game in the Bridgewater end, the Panthers yielded little and hung tough against their favored foes.
"I told them, 'Guys, it's gonna take an ugly goal to win this game'," said Ridge head coach Katie Donahue. "That goal just embodied this team--pride, hustle and heart."
The physical contest was marred by several nicks, cramps and bruises. Weyrauch, in fact, was sidelined for an eight-minute stretch in the first half tending to some leg cramps.
"Her legs weren't with her today," Donahue said of Weyrauch. "But I am so proud of her."
There was plenty for Ridge to take pride in, especially as the pressure of winning a county championship after missing out on it last year was compounded by the additional stress associated with maintaining an unbeaten streak that has garnered not only statewide intrigue, but national attention, as well. Ridge was ranked 14th in USA Today's most recent national girls soccer poll.
"There is definitely extra pressure now with every game we go into," Weyrauch said.
In the first OT, Julia Lindsey just missed on two separate shots on goal, and Bridgewater had an indirect kick that sailed just high and hit the football goal post crossbar just above the soccer goal. Shannon Keefe and Erin Convery of Ridge both had near-misses on shots on goal early in the second half.
"Bridgewater had some opportunities," Donahue said, "and they took the tempo for awhile. But our veteran players really stepped up."