Glen Ridge had been there before – down 1-0 at the half in the sectional title.
It won a 2-1 overtime final in a comeback last fall against Bound Brook and this year, the third-seeded Ridgers didn’t need extra time to take the North, East A, Group 1-A crown in the form of a 2-1 victory over top-seeded Waldwick in Waldwick.
“Just to have a season and let the kids have a chance to defend their title was huge for us,” head coach Brian Ianni said. “Even though Waldwick is a great team and deserved the top seed, we felt a little jaded with our three seed given how tough our competition is. We play Group 4 schools and all of our losses were to top-flight teams. We were excited to come in and play. We have a gritty group of kids.”
Drew Hiner broke open the Glen Ridge (10-4) scoring on a through-ball setup from Travis Burnett early in the second half. Ty Rank then fed Burnett for the go-ahead goal with 17 minutes to go in the contest.
Segun Wallace turned away six shots to preserve the victory.
All four box score contributors are seniors and part of a huge graduating class for the Ridgers. Ianni touched on his seniors and the bond he has developed with them.
“I feel like a few of the seniors were unsure what to expect ahead of summer workouts and if there was even going to be a season,” he said. “Some were even reluctant to come to the workouts at first. I had some of these kids when they were in middle school, but I definitely had to build up our relationship in the summer time. I think their hunger, their drive and their style of play is similar to mine. It made for a great relationship and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Ianni spent his first 13 years at Glen Ridge as an assistant for the girls’ team.
He took the boys’ job in the offseason and it turned into a fall full of memories with more to come.
“The title means everything,” he said. “I knew the guys that I had and I knew the talent that I had. These guys are so great to work with and fun to work with. Every coach remembers their first year, but this group of seniors made it so special and it’s not something you can forget.”
Frank Kasperowicz scored on a pass from Kyle Jahnke for Waldwick (14-3).
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Ryan Patti may be reached at email@example.com.