SCOTCH PLAINS — The Westfield High School boys varsity soccer team will face off against crosstown rival Scotch Plains-Fanwood Friday for the Union County Tournament Championship.
“We are very excited about the opportunity we have given ourselves to play in the Union County final,” Blue Devils head coach Eric Shaw said. “This opportunity has come from our players working hard for months and believing in each other. We have challenged ourselves from the first game of the year and believe that our schedule has helped prepare us. “
The Blue Devils handed the Raiders their first of two losses this season when they shut them out, 1-0, on Oct. 1. That win was part of Westfield’s current 13-game winning streak. Westfield avoided a scare against Dayton, 1-0, in the UCT quarterfinals and defeated Elizabeth in penalty-kicks in the semifinals to reach the finals.
Owen Ripperger is their top scorer with 12 goals, Loukas Carayannopoulos has the most assists with seven and goalie Cullen Birkel has tallied 68 saves. They nearly match Scotch Plains in goals-per-game (2.8), while outscoring opponents, 51-13.
The Raiders (16-2-0) enter play Friday with five-consecutive UCT titles under their belt, and currently hold a six-game winning streak dating back to Oct. 8. They reached the finals by defeating Plainfield in the quarterfinals and Cranford in the semifinals. In the UCT, they outscored opponents, 8-1.
For the season, SP-F’s potent offense is averaging a tick under 3.0 goals per game (2.9), while allowing opponents to a combined six total goals in 19 games. Midfielder John Murphy leads the team in goals (15) while Tommy DeVizio leads the way in assists (9). Senior goalie Sean Murray has the most saves (27). When Scotch Plains defeated Westfield, 2-1, on Sept. 10, DeVizio and Ryan Peterson scored.
The last time the Raiders and Blue Devils met in the UCT Finals was in 2013, when James Murphy, brother of SP-F’s John Murphy and now playing professionally in England for Sheffield Wednesday, scored the game-winning goal in penalty-kicks.
“We respect the quality they have, and the success they have achieved this year,” Shaw said of the Raiders. “We understand they are a good side, but so are we. Looking forward to playing Friday night.”
Additional reporting by Jackie Lieberman.