South Jersey Sports Report: OC Girls Soccer Claims First State Championship
UNION — Ocean City senior midfielder Hannah Keane overslept this morning and nearly missed the biggest game of her life. Thankfully, she was able to rush out of her house and make it to Ocean City just in time to catch the bus from the high school to Kean University’s Alumni Field.
It was a good thing for the Red Raiders that she did, because Keane knocked home a rebound in the eighth minute to break an early scoreless tie and helped propel the Ocean City girls soccer team to a 3-0 victory over Ramapo and the first Group 3 state championship in program history. Ocean City won its third sectional title this year, including its second in the past three seasons, but had never been able to get past the state semifinals. Until now.
“It felt amazing to finish this with my team. It felt so good to get that first goal so we could relax and play our game, and not have to rush. That calmed my nerves,” said Keane, one of five seniors along with goalie Abbey Fenton, defender Delaney Lappin and midfielders Carly Reighard and Katie Mazzitelli. “It was such a sense of accomplishment for everything we’ve worked for from August until now. It’s finally all worth it. We came all the way and beat an opponent that no one thought we were going to beat. All the hard work, all the runs we did, every extra mile we went really paid off in every game.”
“This is crazy. It’s something out of a dream. We won the South Jersey title, and this is my last game of soccer ever. I’m going out as a state champion. This was a picture-perfect senior season. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” said Fenton, who recorded her 19th shutout in 25 games this season, including her sixth straight in the postseason. “This is definitely the best moment (of my career). This is exactly how I wanted my last game to be. We wanted to have a good bus ride back, we wanted it to be fun, and that’s exactly what it’s going to be. This is a great moment. My sophomore year we were really close to getting to this point and now, to finally get here, this senior class, this was our goal. We worked really hard during the summer and coach (Kelly) Halliday said this could be our year. We all bought into that helped us get here. This is what we wanted, as seniors, was to go out like this. I feel like we didn’t get the respect we deserved. We’ve been a really good team, so to come up here and prove we are a really good team and we are state championship caliber is amazing.”
Ocean City (23-1-1) controlled the pace from the start and had Ramapo — 19-2 and the No. 5 team in the state — on its heels, as the Red Raiders had the wind at their backs in the first half and took advantage. Sophomore striker Summer Reimet scored the first of her two goals with 8:20 left in the first half, beating a defender after securing a through ball from junior Faith Slimmer and finishing into the lower right corner to give Ocean City a 2-0 lead. And the way the defense of Lappin, Riley Fortna, Kasey McDonald and Kelsey White were playing, that cushion was plenty.
Reimet added some icing on the cake in the 47th minute when she scored again off a feed from Slimmer, this time on a counter attack following a Ramapo corner kick.
“They were through balls from Faith, and earlier in the season I missed a few breakaways, but this was the game when I needed to make them,” Reimet said. “I’m so excited. I really have to give it to my team, though, they played great this entire game and gave me the perfect passes that I could finish. I love all of them and I’m really going to miss the seniors this year. But I’m excited for next year, and hopefully we can do it again. It’s very intense, but I love it.
“(Slimmer and Reimet) are great up top, but the whole team played great — Carly and Hope (Slimmer) battled in the midfield. We said before the game that we had to put them away early, and that’s exactly what we did. After we put one in, we didn’t look back at all, and that was the key. Once we got that second goal, I had all the confidence — and I know coach Halliday had all the confidence — that our defense was going to hold them and we were going to be successful and walk out of here as state champs,” Fenton said. “For Hannah to get that first goal, that really got us going, and Riley, Casey, Kelsey and Delaney have played great all season. To show that we can shut out a team like Ramapo shows how good we really are as a soccer team.”
“They definitely posed a good challenge. I think people thought we couldn’t (win this) because we only play Cape-Atlantic League games, but I think we proved this year to everyone that can go up against any team when we put our minds to it,” Keane added. “It feels amazing. Every year we get closer and closer, but this year we were able to carry it through the whole entire thing. It feels nice for our seniors to finish this out.”
The win was extra special for Reighard, whose mother, Tracy, was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
“I’m so happy right now. I don’t really have any words to say. We really deserved it, we worked really hard to get here and this just proves that it doesn’t matter if everyone thinks the other team is going to win. All the rankings online said they were going to beat us, but we showed up and proved our point. We figured we made it this far, why not just go all the way?
“I’m so happy to be a part of this club,” she said. “This team is my second family, we do everything together, and we really bonded this year.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays