EWING – Rumson-Fair Haven senior Schuyler DeBree vividly recalls the first speech she gave her teammates this season back in August. The first line was hardly one associated with either a lauded senior leader or a future student at Duke University, both of which DeBree is.

“I can specifically remember saying, ‘Guys, we might suck this year,’” DeBree said. “‘All I want for my senior year is for us to have fun, work hard, and do it all as a team. If we do that, it will be a good year.’”

Some three months later, the Bulldogs officially went from question marks to unquestioned after beating Bernards, 2-1, in the NJSIAA Group II championship on Saturday night at The College of New Jersey.

DeBree is the lone senior on the Rumson-Fair Haven roster and while coach Mary Beth Coleman knew she had a Division I player leading her team, the rest of the lineup remained somewhat of a mystery. The Bulldogs were the No. 7 seed in the Central Jersey Group II bracket and just as was the case during the only other state title run in program history back in 2008, there were not a lot of seniors along for the ride.

“It’s funny – the only other time we won was in 2008 when I had two seniors on the team,” Coleman said. “You really don’t know. There are so many factors that go into something like this and when they happen, it’s just incredible. It helps that we have a senior like Schuyler. She’s an incredible player and an incredible person and having her around as someone the younger players can look up to has been so important.”

Saturday at TCNJ, freshman Grace Forsyth continued her breakout rookie season with a first-half goal to open the scoring for her eighth goal of the season and second in as many games. Forsyth also scored the golden goal in a 1-0 overtime win over West Deptford in Tuesday’s Group II semifinal.

Forsyth scored in the 24th minute, punching a shot past Bernards starting keeper Sarah Ryan on the left side of the six-yard box off a cross from junior Jacqueline Littleson.

“I didn’t come in really expecting too much of myself,” Forsyth said. “All I wanted was to help the team succeed any way I could, and that’s been my focus the last two games too.”

Rumson added a critical second goal in the 55th. DeBree chipped the ball through the defense and Nicole Sullivan – the second Bernards goalkeeper of the game – mishandled the ball, allowing sophomore Lindsey Corydon to tap in the rebound for a 2-0 edge.

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Bernards pulled even in the 71st minute on a 35-yard free kick by junior midfielder Montana Sutton that slammed into the upper right corner of the goal. Sutton had two more direct kicks, the first of which nearly turned into a goal off a rebound and would have if not for a save by Bulldogs freshman goalkeeper Samantha Beaudreault.

“I play on the same club team with Montana and I know how good of a player she is,” DeBree said. “The shot she made was phenomenal so when she got two more, yeah, I was crossing my fingers more than anything. The big thing was to communicate with the rest of the team, make sure everyone was in the right position and just be ready to clear the ball out if we had the chance. The first thing to do, though, is hope she misses.”

Sutton had a quiet game prior to the final 10 minutes thanks to a strong defensive performance by junior Meagan McGurl.

“(Sutton) was definitely the girl we needed to focus on, and Meagan McGurl did a great job marking her and limited her opportunities,” Coleman said. “That was her job today, and she did what we needed her to do. Everyone had a job today and everyone carried their weight and that’s what it takes.”

The Bulldogs return 10 starters next year in hopes of a repeat, but lose their most important piece. DeBree was the team’s top player as a starting center midfielder – despite being recruited primarily as a defender – and its lone senior voice.

“It was kind of a blessing to be the only senior, because it brought me closer together with the younger players,” DeBree said. “I needed them as much as they needed me and that connection is something that carried over off the field as well. After a while, it didn’t feel like we were in different grades, and we really didn’t even think about it. We were all seniors.”

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Box Score

Rumson-Fair Haven 2, Bernards 1




Rumson-Fair Haven (16-7-1)




Bernards (19-4-2)




Goals (Assists): (RFH) Forsyth (Littleson) 24’, Coryman (DeBree) 55’; (B) Sutton (DK) 71’
Shots: Rumson-Fair Haven, 11-6
Saves: (RFH) Beaudreault 3; (B) Ryan 4, Sullivan 1