Glen Ridge, NJ--Winning state sectional championships at Glen Ridge High School has become a somewhat common occurance for the girls' varsity soccer program.
However, no team ever stays the same, and in 2019, the Ridgers have some key new players, starting with junior goalie Olivia Carbonell.
Carbonell and her Ridger teammates won its eighth straight state sectional championship on Nov. 7 and will prepare for the Group 1 semifinal, on Nov. 12, against Mountain Lakes, at Passaic County Tech, in Wayne. Kickoff time is 6 p.m.
A fine all-around athlete, Carbonell has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, but the move to goalie, from defense, is relatively new.
"I always liked playing goalie," said Carbonell, the eldest of two siblings born to Christine and Jose Carbonell. "I was probably a little scared to play goalie, early on, but when Elettra got hurt, I knew I could get a chance to play."
Elettra Giantomenico, a sophomore, was Glen Ridge's starting goalie and was in the net for the early stages of the 2019 season, before a season-ending hand injury.
"When Elettra got hurt, it was a matter of stepping up, and Olivia has done that," said Glen Ridge head coach Oscar Viteri. "She's made some really good saves for us, and has been tremendous. Her confidence has grown with each game."
Carbonell's first start was against West Essex, on Sept. 19, and she had 10 saves in a 3-2 loss. Her first victory came six days later, when the Ridgers defeated Roselle Park, 3-0. That win started a streak of 15 wins in the last 16 games for Glen Ridge, most of which had Carbonell in goal. She has 10 shutouts so far this season.
During the Ridgers' run in the state tournament, she has allowed just one goal in four games, with three shutouts.
"I didn't even realize that," said Carbonell with a smile when reminded of her success in the state tournament. "I have a great defense in front of me."
Glen Ridge's only loss in the last 16 games came against one of the state's best, Montclair. The Ridgers played well agianst the powerful Mounties, but lost, 4-0.
"I think that game was the turning point of our season," said Carbonell, who had a number of impressive saves in the game. "Playing a team as good as Montclair really showed us how talented we were, too.,"
When the soccer season concludes, hopefully in the Group 1 championship game on Nov. 16, Olivia will have a little down time, before playing basketball for the Ridgers.
"I think we'll be pretty good," said Carbonell, a shooting guard. "But in the meantime, I'll be watching film and getting ready for the next soccer game."