By LESLEY GRAHAM
The Ocean City High School girls soccer program won its first ever Group 3 state title Saturday morning, and Head Coach Kelly Halliday summed it up perfectly in three words: “Best. Day. Ever.”
The Red Raiders defeated Ramapo High School 3-0 on a blustery morning at Kean University, the site of the New Jersey state playoffs. The win brought the Red Raiders season record to a near-perfect 24-1-1, while Ramapo ended its run with a 19-2 overall record.
Ocean City posted its 19th shutout on the year, pairing its high-powered offense with a dominant defense that allowed only nine goals all season long. The Red Raiders’ offense led the state in scoring, demolishing the previous scoring records for both goals and assists during a season for the team.
In the championship game, Hannah Keane got on the scoreboard early for the Red Raiders, finding the back of the net in the 10th minute of play in what would be the winning goal for Ocean City.
“That first goal was pure grit,” Halliday said. “When that first goal went it, I just knew it was our game.”
But with a state-leading 114 goals scored this season, the Red Raiders weren’t about to rest on their laurels with a 1-0 lead.
Ocean City was aware that Ramapo could easily close the gap and make it a game, posting a number of shots on goal in the first half that Red Raider senior goalkeeper Abbey Fenton was able to ward off thanks to the strong play of the defensive backs, including senior Delaney Lappin.
“Our girls went out there and played that game like it was any other game, like they have all season long,” Halliday said. “We executed our game plan, worked together and never doubted that we deserved to be there.”
Sophomore Summer Reimet scored twice – once in the first half to give Ocean City a little bit of a cushion, and once again in the second half to add the icing on the cake.
Faith Slimmer, a junior, added one assist, on Reimet’s first goal. The combination of Reimet and Slimmer was lethal this season, as the two rewrote the record books for Ocean City, each with 35 goals on the season and six and 27 assists, respectively.
As the clock dwindled down and the realization was starting to set in that Ocean City was about to capture its first ever state championship, the team celebrated and relished the victory just like they have all season – as a team.
“This team has been special from day one, and for us to be able to end this season with a championship trophy just goes to show how special they are,” Halliday said. “And what makes them so special is their desire to win not for themselves, but for each other. That’s how state champions are made.”