In a time when lacrosse is blowing up to a point where high schoolers are playing it year-round, Ridge High School head coach Barbara Erickson knew she had a challenge on her hands with the Red Devils this season. Not only was Erickson returning from a one year away from the girls lacrosse program, but she was dealing with a talented group of players that needed a bit of guidance to play as one, with team goals at the forefront.
“My main goal this year, with these kids playing club lactose and putting so much focus on the sport year-round, was to get everyone on the same page and playing together,” Erickson said. “The kids are looking to play in college, so they are showcasing themselves outside of school, so I had to bring them back in and get them on the same page. If you can’t do that, you don’t go very far.”
Ridge, with Erickson leading the way, went very far, winning the North Group IV title, went unbeaten in Somerset County contests and won its third straight county title, all while compiling a 19-4 record.
Erickson is the Courier News Coach of the Year.
“I didn’t know what to expect in my first year back,” Erickson said. “There’s a lot of talent on this squad and I tried to make the non-conference games tough for us so we would be prepared for the end of the season. It gave us confidence that we could play with the elite teams like that.”
The Red Devils, led by a host of juniors including four Courier News first-team performers, defeated Ridgewood for the North Group IV crown and Bridgewater-Raritan for the SCT title. They also knocked off rival North Hunterdon three times in 2014.
“Most of our juniors have been playing together on the varsity level for a few years now and moving forward to net year, they’re hungry to win. Sometimes they fade towards the end of the season, but this season, they were pushing themselves,” Erickson said. “They wanted to get better and they wanted to win.”