BASKING RIDGE, NJ -- The Ridge field hockey team won its first sectional championship in 14 years Friday afternoon with a 2-0 victory over Montclair in the Section 1, Group 4 final.
The Red Devils (16-5-1) will play Hunterdon Central in the state Group 4 semifinals Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Boonton High School. Ridge lost, 2-1, to Hunterdon Central in the second game of this season.
Taylor Ligozio and Kate Pesarchick each scored a goal for Ridge, with Julie Narleski and Clare Guliano each assisting on a goal. Ridge goalie Emma Albee accounted for 10 saves.
"They have put a great deal of time and made many sacrifices," Ridge field hockey coach Kimberly Clark said. "not just during the season, but throughout the off-season. They committed to improving their field hockey skills throughout the year, and it is has been evident on the field this fall. We have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks preparing for this moment through visualization and practice. It was just amazing to see it come to fruition for the girls. They played brilliantly all over the field and I could not be more proud of them."
As much as the Red Devils' players were given the chance to celebrate their sectional crown Friday night, Clark said that the team was right back to work at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
"We are refining our skills and working on our mental game," Clark said. "We are doing everything we can to prepare for the 'big games.' This is the first time these girls have been part of a field hockey championship season, so we are doing everything we can to make sure they are physically and mentally prepared."
Ridge has yielded just two goals during the course of the state tournament, although Clark emphasized that the Red Devils have been performing at a high level all over the field, not just in the back.
"As a coaching staff, we constantly reiterate to our attack how fortunate they are to practice against our defense everyday, because our defense is so tough," Clark said. "I have a ton of leadership on our back line, which doesn't just lead to good defense, but also a strong attack as our defense communicates so well with our mids and attack about where to put the ball and how to adjust defensively.
"We are also fortunate to have an excellent goalkeeper," the coach said of Albee. "She is athletic and vocal, which--when combined with our backfield--has really been tough to penetrate. But also notable, is our relentless midfield and attack; part of our motto is that we don't want to have to play defense. If we can put ourselves in positions to intercept, we never have to play defense. The best defense is a strong offense."