Ridgewood upends IHA in Bergen final
To say that the Lady Maroons of Ridgewood own the Bergen County tournament is a grand understatement. Coming into 2012, Ridgewood had defeated IHA in the previous four finals matchups and captured seven straight titles. The Lady Maroons dominated IHA on their way to an eighth consecutive Bergen County championship, winning 18-3 at Mahwah High School.
Ridgewood scored a staggering 17 unanswered goals, including 11 tallies in the first 15 minutes of the game. The Lady Maroons were coming off a 15-10 loss to south Jersey power Moorestown and they put some pressure on themselves to get off to a quick start.
“That was a tough game [against Moorestown],” said Ridgewood head coach Karla Mixon. “We traveled two hours to get down there and it was a learning experience. We took the loss and learned from it. There was definitely some internal pressure to win it for the players who had won every year before.”
Although things were relatively quiet for the first five minutes of the game, Devon Maltz’s first goal of the game opened the floodgates, and Ridgewood did not take its foot off the gas pedal the rest of the way.
“I think we were surprised at how on fire we were,” said Kelci Smesko. “We really wanted it. I think they did too, but they didn’t really get a chance. They’re a dangerous offensive team and we were able to limit their opportunities."
The Lady Maroons are no strangers to offensive outbursts. In its previous meeting with IHA, Ridgewood stormed back to erase a 7-1 half time deficit and win 12-9. This time around, the field was tilted in one direction from start to finish.
“We had a very close game with them the first time we played,” said Smesko of their last matchup with IHA. “We came ready to play today, though. We really brought it and I’m so proud of my teammates, we had great balance in scoring and we were the first to all of the ground balls.”
The Duke-bound Smesko, finished with three goals to bring her season total to 54, but Lauren Bausoleil, Devon Maltz and Kaitlin Concilio also recorded hat tricks, giving Ridgewood plenty of offensive balance. Maggie Carver also scored and finished with a game-high four assists for Ridgewood.
“They definitely worked together really well,” said Coach Mixon. “We don’t have a selfish team, so the fact that one or two players didn’t dominate the game shows a lot of character from our team. They look for the girl that’s open and they work for each other.”
While Ridgewood had no trouble scoring in the contest, the defense also did an outstanding job of defending IHA’s 60-goal scorer, Gabby McMahon, and her talented teammates. Chances were extremely few and far between for the USC-bound star until late in the fourth quarter when she was able to strike twice for goals.
“It was great to see what the defensive unit did today,” said coach Mixon. “They looked tremendous out there, both Coach Moore and I are so proud of what they did out there. We’re just really happy right now.”
The Lady Maroons should be thrilled. Heading towards the state tournament with a thumping of a county rival is about as good as it gets in high school sports. There are still many obstacles to hurdle, but surely Ridgewood has its eyes squarely on a Tournament of Champions rematch with its nemesis Moorestown.