GLEN RIDGE, NJ--Senior Day in most high school sports brings about a level of emotion, as student-athletes realize that four years have gone by much quicker than anticipated.
The Glen Ridge High girls' soccer team does a good job in honoring its seniors every year and the 2019 version was no exception. Following a 9-0 win over Newark East Side, at Carteret Field, on Oct. 23, the players gathered to express their gratitude to the seniors, who have helped make the program one of the best in North Jersey.
The Ridgers have won seven straight state sectional championships, since 2012. The team will begin the quest for an eighth straight championship on Oct. 28, when it plays a first round game, at home in Watsessing Park, against McNair Academy.
The Ridgers had a tee-shirt made for the 2019 season, with the initials LFT, which stands for ‘Let’s Finish This’. It refers to the team’s incredible seven state sectional championships, but also reminds the players that an overall Group 1 state title has just eluded it since 2015.
After winning back-to-back Group 1 crowns in 2012 and 2013, both versus Shore Regional (the teams tied for the title in ’13), Glen Ridge lost in the Group 1 championship game from 2015-2017, all by one goal, to Shore. Then last year, the Ridgers dominated the action against Audubon in the state final, but were unable to score a goal. The game ended with Audubon winning on penalty kicks, after a scoreless tie in regulation and two overtimes.
In this year’s Senior Day, two underclassmen would read heartfelt sentiments to a senior, as parents and players gathered to watch. Some of the speeches contained humor, some brought tears and all were sincere.
Glen Ridge has nine seniors on the roster this season and four expressed their sentiments on sharing Senior Day.
“It means a lot to play our years with this team,” said Madison Grady. “Each year, we get a great group of athletes who love to win. Each season, we make a statement run in our state sectional, and this year, we have a lot of strong, veteran players who can hold their own in important games. As our season has progressed, we have seen more and more players stepping up and proving to us that they are ready or states.”
Tara Feenaghty scored a hat trick in the win over East Side and has been one of the team’s most consistent players.
“Going into my fourth and final state tournament, I have never been so confident,” said the senior. “We have an amazing group of girls, who are all driven to hoist up the sectional trophy, and get a chance to finally win states. So many girls have stepped up this year and proven themselves and the team is filled with leaders.”
Senior Evie Fawcett echoed Feenaghty’s thoughts.
“Making it to the state final the past three years and losing has been heartbreaking,” said Fawcett. “Now, as a senior holding a lot more responsibility, we are fired up and working every day toward getting back to finish business. #LFT.”
Sarah Cullinan likes her team’s chances.
“As seniors, we have won the sectional final and lost in the state final the past three years,” said Cullinan. “Entering states, we have incomparable experience, and drive to defend our title and earn what we deserve at Kean (University, site of the Group championships).”
The nine seniors who were honored last week included Delaney Bongo, Samantha Lovit, Mary Ann O’Gorman, Taylor Townson, Caitlin Cifelli, Feenaghty, Fawcett, Cullinan and Grady.
Heading into the state tournament, Glen Ridge had won 11 of its last 12 after a 1-6 start. In the regular season finale, at Hoboken, on Oct. 26, the Ridgers were led by Olivia Hoover’s hat trick.
“We’re coming around and the team is healthy,” said head coach Oscar Viteri. “The kind of schedule we play in the regular season, against the best Super Essex Conference teams, really prepares us for the state tournament. There’s no doubt about that.”