RIDGE – Like it did in the regular season, the Ridge High School girls lacrosse team limited the production of the talented Bridgewater-Raritan freshmen, this time en route to a third straight county title.
Behind the stellar play of senior Hannah Quigley and juniors Izzy Behrins and Devon Brown, top-seeded Ridge (15-3) defeated second-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan in a game of runs 13-10 Tuesday night on its home field for the Somerset County Tournament crown.
Quigley scored a game-high four goals and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, but she said she didn’t focus on playing for individual stats, instead focusing on how she could help her team.
“I wanted us to win this game, but I was playing for my team, not for myself,” she said. “I played well tonight, but it was great to get this win and the MVP. We had a lot of confidence coming into this game and that helped us play well. This feels great.”
Ridge used a 6-0 run spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to turn a one-goal deficit into the advantage it wouldn’t relinquish en route to the title. Once the second half began, the Red Devils had better than 80 percent of the possession, basically taking Bridgewater-Raritan (16-5) out of its game.
“We talked at halftime about coming out and playing our game, and we did,” Quigley said. “We won the draw controls and we finished and were able to come out on top.”
The win is the sixth straight overall for Ridge since a loss to state power Oak Knoll on April 26, and the Red Devils have been victorious in eight of their last 10 contests dating back to early April.
Behrins added three goals and two assists and Brown registered one goal and three assists for the Red Devils, who received points from eight different players.
“We have a very balanced attack, so we don’t just give it to one girl and have her go to the goal,” Erickson said. “We’ve always thrived because we have a balanced attack. We have a lot of girls that could realistically score multiple goals in a game, so it’s hard to shut one of us down.”
Ridge had beaten Bridgewater-Raritan twice in the regular season – by scores of 8-7 and 20-11 – and did so largely by limiting the damage from freshman phenom Ally Mastroianni. The uber-talented freshman did record nine goals and three assists in those two prior contests, but six of those goals came in the latter contest that was a 12-5 Ridge advantage at halftime. Mastroianni, who came into the game with 135 points (88 goals, 47 assists), which were the fourth-highest total in the state, but finished with just one goal and two assists Tuesday night.
“My concern coming into the year was defense, because we graduated so much from last year, but I felt like our defense has been strong all year and we’ve done a great job of double-teaming and we stick-check well and we get the ball back a lot,” Erickson said. “We were able to prevent her from penetrating as much as she usually does.”
Bridgewater-Raritan was shut down in the second half, as it didn’t score until the 11:24 mark when Mastroianni finally converted. Both freshman Hannah Hollingsworth and junior Mackenzie Knouse finished with a hat trick for the Panthers, and freshman Kirsten Murphy chipped in two goals. Bridgewater-Raritan led 7-6 at the 6:23 mark of the first half, but Ridge’s 6-0 run put the game out of reach in the second half.
Having an experienced group of players, led by Quigley, Ridge leaned on prior games to fight back on Tuesday night.
“These kids have been playing together a long time, not just for these three years here, but since elementary school and they’re used to playing with each other,” Erickson said. “They’re used to being in competitive situations and they’re used to being under the pressure and it helps them in games like this.”