After back-to-back losses in title games, senior forward Lindsay Fritz converted the winning goal off a penalty corner with 1:33 left in overtime to give Voorhees a 1-0 win over Hackettstown in the North 2, Group 2 sectional final at North Hunterdon Regional High School.
Voorhees (18-3-1), which claimed its first title since 2006 and the program's seventh overall, advances to the Group 2 semifinals to take on North 1 champion West Essex at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at A.L. Johnson High School. The winner will face Rumson-Fair Haven or West Deptford for the state championship on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Bordentown High School.
In '06, the Vikes won the sectional title with a 1-0 victory over Ocean Township before eventually dropping a 3-0 decision to Moorestown in the Group 3 final.
|Voorhees celebrates its first title since 2006. (Courtesy of Deirdre Ogorzalek)|
"We came up a little short the last two years," said sixth-year coach Taylor Webb, whose teams lost in the 2014 (1-0 in OT to Summit) and '15 (3-2 to Madison) sectional finals. "It's important to get that break through and have the kids experience [a championship]."
Hackettstown (16-5) was denied in its first finals appearance since making back-to-back trips in 2006 and '07. The Tigers dropped two meetings with the Vikes this season, including a 2-1 loss in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament quarterfinals on Oct. 8.
Webb had high praise for a Hackettstown program that posted its most wins during seventh-year coach Stephen Speirs' tenure.
"He's done a nice job of turning that program around," Webb said. "They're a good team."
Fritz ended the drama by tapping in her seventh goal of the season off a feed from senior midfielder Hannah Schiavo, who controlled the ball at the top of the circle and reversed it to the right post, where Fritz was waiting to knock it in. Fritz also scored in the team's 3-1 win over Bernards in Tuesday's sectional semifinal.
"Lindsay is always at the right place at the right time," said Webb, who won three sectional titles as a star player for Voorhees under former coach Ann Bonavita. "She keeps to [our] system and never waivers. I'm so proud she scored that goal. She doesn't get a lot of credit and doesn't need it. That was awesome."
Senior goalie Annie Weiler made four saves for her 11th shutout of the season.
West Essex, an 8-1 winner over Ramsey in the North 1 final, will be a stiff test as Voorhees trails 1-8-2 in the all-time series between the longtime state powers, including a 3-0 loss at home on Sept. 10. The Knights have won a state record 34 sectional championships and four of the last five meetings with the Vikes since the series resumed in 2012. Voorhees' only win was 2-1 in the '00 in the Group 2 semifinals. The teams played to a 1-1 tie in '12.
"They're a standard West Essex team. Very fit, they move the ball, and they are super skilled," Webb said of this year's version. "We have to fine-tune on certain things and have to convert on our opportunities."
Hackettstown (16-5) 0 0 0 -- 0
Voorhees (18-3-1) 0 0 1 -- 1
Overtime -- V, Lindsay Fritz, 7th, (Hannah Schiavo), 1:33.
Shots -- Hackettstown 3; Voorhees 5.
Saves -- Bridget Kenny 0, Alyssa Cassini 3 (H); Annie Weiler 4 (V).
Braves earn 3-peat
Newton 2, Mountain Lakes 1 -- Senior forward Natalie Rivas scored the go-ahead goal just before halftime as the top-seeded Braves held on to win their third straight North 1, Group 1 title on Thursday at Palmer Field.
Newton (17-3), which boasts a Sussex County-record 12 sectional titles, advances to face North 2 champion Madison in the Group 1 semifinals at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Boonton High School. The winner will play Haddonfield or Middle Township for the state title on Nov. 12 at Bordentown High School.
Sophomore Victoria Docherty scored the Braves' first goal before Mountain Lakes (12-7-1) tied it midway through the first half. Rivas now has three goals and three assists in the team's last four games.
Newton, which was eliminated by Shore Regional in the state semis the previous two seasons, has reached a state final just once in program history -- losing to Moorestown in the 1984 Group 2 title game. State powerhouse Madison, which has won 15 sectional titles and last year's Group 2 title, ended Shore's bid for a fourth straight Group 1 championship with a 1-0 win in the North 2, Group 2 final.
Mountain Lakes (12-7-1) 1 0 -- 1
Newton (17-3) 2 0 -- 2
First half -- N, Victoria Docherty, 6th, (Lauren Barbato); ML, Macara Desai; N, Natalie Rivas, 22nd, (Nicole Rizzo).
Shots -- Mountain Lakes 7; Newton 13.
Saves -- Jessica Menack 3, Aline Miller 6 (ML); Abby Berkowitz 4 (N).