The girls’ soccer teams at Freehold Township High School and Ridge High School once again showed that they are evenly matched — and once again share a state championship.
Freehold Township and Ridge squared off for the NJSIAA Group 4 tournament championship for the second time in three years. The result on Nov. 18 at Kean University in Union was exactly the same — a 0-0 tie — when Freehold Township and Ridge met in the 2015 Group 4 title game.
Freehold Township and Ridge battled to a scoreless tie on a damp field this year after playing through regulation and two overtime periods. After 100 minutes and no clear-cut winner, the teams were declared co-champions.
No penalty-kick shootouts are used in championship games since that tiebreaker option is needed to have one team advance in a tournament. Ties in championship games result in the two teams sharing the crown.
Junior goalie Alessia La Rosa, who helped preserve the shutout for Freehold Township with seven saves, shared positive reviews of ending the game in a tie.
“It’s an honor to be here,” La Rosa said. “Not all teams get to this point. It [stinks] that we couldn’t top it off, but it means everything to be here and to get the chance, even though it wasn’t the result that we wanted.”
Freehold Township coach Dave Patterson also pointed out the bright side of being a co-champion while praising the Somerset County opponent.
“It means that Freehold Township is one of the best teams in the state,” the coach said. “We didn’t get the exact result we wanted to, but Ridge is a great opponent. So if we’re going to share this finish with a team, I’m glad to share it with Ridge.”
Freehold Township punched its ticket to the Group 4 finals when the Patriots knocked off Washington Township High School, 5-3, in the semifinals on Nov. 14. The Patriots won the Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional championship with a 2-1 decision against East Brunswick High School on Nov. 9.
Freehold Township’s run through the state tournament came after the Patriots were defeated by Wall High School, 4-2, in the Shore Conference Tournament finals last month. Wall went on to win the Group 2 state title when it defeated Westwood Regional High School, 4-3, in a championship game that was also played on Nov. 18 at Kean University.
“This group of seniors, when we got them in as freshmen, we knew that we were building for this year,” Patterson said. “They left it out there every game. Yes, we fell a little bit short in the Shore Conference Tournament, but they just battle through. It means a lot to me personally, but it means a lot for these seniors too. They’re such a strong group of players, but also a strong group of girls.”
The seniors were part of a four-year run that ended with a 75-12-8 record and two Group 4 state co-championships. Freehold Township ended this year with a 23-1-1 record, while Ridge finished the season with at 18-4-2.
“This season means everything to me,” La Rosa said. “Of course, it’s an honor to get here because, like I said, not every team gets to be in this position. There’s no guarantee that we’ll make it here next year, but I know we’re going to come out with the same intensity and same mentality next year.”