With two consecutive seasons as the top lacrosse team in the state, the Ridgewood girls are the undisputed queens in lacrosse-crazy New Jersey, again besting former claimant Moorestown in the Tournament of Champions. The Ridgewood ladies of lax scored an incredible come-from-behind victory and defended , winning a 10-9 thriller at Rutgers University on Saturday afternoon.
The village girls lacrosse team has now extolled revenge on the bitter rival twice this season, capping off Saturday's win in a match that looked all Moorestown (22-4) for much of the contest. That is, until lightning struck and Ridgewood (23-1) dominated when it had to.
Ridgewood–which had lost nine of the last ten to the South Jersey power but won an April matchup–fell behind early, watching six goals by six different Quakers rumble through the back of the net.
At the same time, coach Karla Mixon's top-ranked team was stymied by Moorestown's All-American goalie Bridget Bianco, netting just four goals against the stalwart in the first half.
But the second half was a different story for the comeback kids, who have jostled with Jersey's top teams all tournament from behind.
Kelsi Smesko quickly asserted her season-long dominance right after the second-half whistle, shooting a bullet past Bianco, cutting the lead to 6-5. The goalies Bianco and Ridgewood's Isabel Sipple then traded breathtaking saves punctured by a few great shots from both sides.
But with about 10:30 left to go in the second half, Moorestown's Nikki McMonogle netted one, bringing the game to 9-7. It seemed all Moorestown once again until Ridgewood roared back with Lauren Beausoleil, and Sally Jentis coming up absolutely huge when the defending champs needed it most.
After battling Mononucleosis that kept her on the sidelines for a month and appearing to tire a bit in Ridgewood's semi-final victory over Chatham, the All-American Jentis scored the last two goals for Ridgewood within the last five minutes.
Sipple then made a dramatic save with under a minute left to keep the crown in the halls of Ridgewood High School before the whistle blew. The players celebrated before lightning struck, forcing an evacuation of the stadium.
For Ridgewood, with its second TOC trophy in hand, lightning truly struck twice.
Absolutely check back with Ridgewood Patch for a full video highlight package with interviews later today.