The Ocean City High School girls soccer team will try to cap its already historic season with one final victory Saturday in the program’s first state championship game.
The Red Raiders, ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11, meet Ramapo at 10 a.m. at Kean University in Union County for the state Group III title.
Ocean City (23-1-1), the South Jersey champion, won the program’s first state semifinal Wednesday, beating Central Jersey champion Hopewell Valley Central 1-0. Summer Reimet scored in the 70th minute to win it. Ramapo (19-1), the North I champion, beat North II winner Middletown South 4-3 on Wednesday in the other semifinal.
“They’re really excited, a great group,” coach Kelly Halliday said of her team.
“Going to practices is fun. They’re a close group, and they love being together. They’re ready. They’re not really nervous, they’re excited to play the last game. They’re ready to leave it all on the field.”
Ocean City won the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament on Oct. 14 and the South Jersey Group III title Nov. 7. The Red Raiders have scored 119 goals and given up just nine.
“I knew in August that this is a special group,” Halliday said. “They know they have to work hard for what they want. I put a lot into it, and they match it. They’ve earned everything they have. They’re the talk of the town.”
Ocean City has several scorers and is hard to defend. The Red Raiders are led by Faith Slimmer (35 goals) and Reimet (33 goals). Delaney Lappin, Carly Reighard and Hope Slimmer (Faith’s younger sister) each have seven goals, and others are ready to contribute. At the other end, goalie Abbey Fenton has 18 shutouts, including three shared.
Ramapo is led offensively by Amelia Suchora (24 goals, 15 assists), Mary Cochran (20 goals, 24 assists) and Mary Clare Langan (17 goals, 15 assists).
“Ramapo is a really good team, obviously, and we’re a really good team,” Halliday said. “We’ll stick to the game play and play the best we can play. They’re catching on about how cool November soccer can be.”
The Red Raiders have given up no goals in the state tournament so far. Fenton made eight saves against Hopewell Valley, including two big stops in the final 10 minutes.
“It’s really exciting, and it’s cool that it’s the first time we’ve been in a state championship game,” said junior defender Kelsey White, a 17-year-old Northfield resident. “We’ve really bonded as a team and the school is really behind us.
“This is my first year of playing defense, and our defensive line is strong. Our goalie is really good. There’s a lot of pressure when the ball gets near the (Ocean City) goal, but we’re almost always successful clearing it out. We’re ready to go.”