GLEN RIDGE, NJ--Over the next few days, Glen Ridge High has a chance to crown not one, but two state sectional championship soccer teams.
The girls will get the first chance, as head coach Oscar Viteri's Ridgers vie for an eighth straight sectional crown, in North 2, Group 1, on Nov. 7, when the team plays a rare road game in the states, at New Providence, beginning at 2 p.m.
"It's been a long time since we've played a sectional game on the road," said Viteri. "This year, it will be a new challenge for us, and we're looking forward to it. Winning another state sectional is something we've wanted all season."
Glen Ridge is playing its best soccer of the season. After a 1-6 start, the Ridgers have won 14 of its last 15 to improve to 15-7. There have been three wins in the sectionals, defeating McNair Academy, 6-0, Dayton Regional, 2-1, and Delaware Valley, 8-0. The win over Delaware Valley, on Nov. 4, was by far the team's best performance in the state tournament, so far. Delaware Valley had defeated top-seeded Whippany Park in the quarterfinals.
"I thought we played well against Del Val," said Viteri. "I didn't like the way we had played in the quarterfinals, against Dayton, but we rebounded nicely. We'll have a big challenge ahead of us against New Providence. They'll have a big crowd there. It should be fun."
Tara Feenaghty and Olivia Hoover scored two goals each against Delaware Valley while Caroline Weinstein, Madison Grady, Sydney Mansfield and Ania Prussak scored one goal each. Taylor Townson had two assists and goaltender Olivia Carbonell turned back three shots to record the shutout.
The Ridgers have a theme this year, with the initials LFT on the sleeve of their tee-shirts. LFT stands for Let's Finish This. Glen Ridge has won eight straight sectional titles, but the team has fallen short of a Group 1 title in the last four championship games, having lost three of those games by a goal each before a loss on penalty kicks in last year's final.
The Glen Ridge boys' soccer team, which earned the top seed in North 2, Group 1, defeated a long-time nemesis in Dayton, 2-0, on Nov. 5 to advance to the sectional final for the third time in the last four years. Glen Ridge improved to 10-7-1 with the victory and will host Technology in the sectional final, on Nov. 8, at Watsessing Park. Technology, like Glen Ridge, plays in the Super Essex Conference.
Glen Ridge received goals from Travis Burnett and Gavin Robertson in the win over Dayton. The Ridgers have outscored its first three opponents in the sectional tournament by a combined 9-0.
Dayton had eliminated Glen Ridge from the state tournament in the 2016 sectional final, in double overtime, and also knocked the Ridgers out of the states in 2017. Last year, Glen Ridge defeated Dayton in the semifinals, but lost in the final at New Providence.
The Ridgers last won a state sectional championship in 2011.
"I know it's been a good rivalry between Glen Ridge and Dayton," said Glen Ridge's first-year head coach Austin Alvarado. "This was a good win for us, today. We're looking forward to playing for a state (sectional) championship on Nov. 8. We had been focusing on the states for a while now, and our kids are doing well."
Glen Ridge's athletic director, Rob Hill, was also excited.
"It's pretty special to have two teams going for a state title," said Hill. "We have a good group of kids at the school and it's nice to see how they support each other."