UNION TWP. - The Freehold Township and Ridge girls soccer teams both walked off the field at Kean University Saturday as NJSIAA Group IV champions, but you wouldn't know it by their reactions.

For the second time in three years, the Patriots and the Ridgers played 100 minutes without scoring against the other and settled for a share of the Group IV championship.

The two teams entered with aspirations of capturing their first ever outright group championship while making a claim for the No. 1 ranking in the state. Instead, neither could come up with the goal, making that 200 minutes the two teams have played without scoring a goal over the two meetings.

Photo by Matt Manley
Photo by Matt Manley

"It definitely hurts a little because we, the seniors, have been playing together since we were 10 years-old and we really wanted to come out and win our last game," said senior defender Meaghan Latona, who is one of three seniors on this year's team to play as freshmen at the varsity level. "It feels okay, but you don't really know how to feel. We wanted to go out with a win, but it's still definitely a good feeling to win a championship."

The co-title in 2015 was the first ever for both teams, with Freehold Township playing in the game for the firs time. Ridge, meanwhile, has been to six championship games in the last 10 years and has yet to win one outright.

Ridge produced more chances over the course of regulation and the two overtime periods, including a goal that was waved off because of an offsides call as well as several challenges of Freehold Township junior goalkeeper Alessia LaRosa.

LaRosa was up to the challenge, as the junior saved seven shots, including one on a close-range shot in the final three minutes of the second overtime period.

"We certainly didn't want to tie, but we also know how dangerous Ridge is on a counter-attack," Freehold Township coach Dave Patterson said. "It was like a Catch 22: we want to commit forward, we want to sell out and get more numbers up, but we know any moment a long ball can come through and beat us, so we had to be aware there."

Freehold Township's best opportunity came in the 61st minute, when Latona poked a shot off the crossbar on a corner kick. Corners were Freehold Township's advantage in the game, with the Patriots earning seven to Ridge's three. Ridge outshot Freehold Township, 11-6.

"I was just running for the ball wherever it was, just crashing the box" Latona said. "I thought it was going in. I just kind of hit and because it was raining, I thought just getting it toward the goal would give it a chance to go in."

Ridgers senior defenders Erin Keefe and Kaitlyn Madden helped lead the effort against Jada and Jasmine Colbert, who were quiet in Saturday's game outside of a couple of runs into the box.

"They are a tough defense," Latona said. "It was definitely harder to play Jasmine and Jada because their girls were just on their backs every single time. Once we started going wide, I think started playing better, but that's definitely one of the strongest defenses we've seen all year."

The Colbert twins are among the outgoing senior class at Freehold Township that won all but two games this year. Unfortunately for them, those two games were championship matches - one on Saturday against Ridge and the other against Wall in the Shore Conference Tournament final.

Although the Patriots did not collect an SCT or outright state title, this senior class - which had seven starters in Saturday's lineup - moves on with two Group IV championships, three Shore Conference Tournament final appearances and three Class A North divisional titles.

"This group of seniors, for as unhappy as they are sharing it, they're going down as the most decorated group of players here at Freehold Township," Patterson said.


Box Score

Freehold Twp. 0, Ridge 0

Ridge (18-4-2)00000
Freehold Twp. (23-1-1)00000

Shots: Ridge, 11-6
Saves: (R) Alexandra Lindsey 3; (FT) Alessia LaRosa 7


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