Group 3, girls soccer, Ramapo
Ramapo girls soccer celebrates a state title. (Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj - JSN)

Epic shootout decides Group 3 Girls Soccer State Title

The Ramapo Raiders (18-3-1) defeated the Cherry Hill West Lions (13-7-4) in a classic battle, 6-5 in penalty kicks, to win the Group 3 Girls Soccer State Title at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.

Both teams were coming off close wins in the Group 3 Tournament Semifinals. Ramapo edged past Chatham 1-0, while Cherry Hill West slid past Middletown South by the same result.

An early 10 a.m. start featured chilly and windy conditions at first pitch. Despite the gloomy weather, school supporters and fans packed the bleachers.

In the first half, the teams had terrific opportunities to score the game's first goal, but the goalkeepers came up with several outstanding saves. Once halftime rolled around, the game was scoreless.

When the second half commenced, the action continued to gain more traction. At the 37-minute mark, Cherry Hill West finally broke the stalemate as Ava Hawk gathered a pass in the box and booted home a shot into the net.

Six minutes later, the Lions struck gold again with Reilly McGlinn breaking into deep inside Ramapo territory at a fast clip and then unleashing a rocket shot that went top shelf.

Just when it appeared Cherry Hill West was in firm control of the game, the Raiders answered back with 26 and half minutes remaining. A shot from the far-right corner of the field led to the ball landing in the box as Ramapo's Kate Langfelder tapped the ball into the back of the net.

Not even three minutes later, Langfelder made her presence known by tallying the equalizer. Langfelder took a pass and drilled a laser shot from about ten yards. The ball glanced off the top of the crossbar and into the net.

The Raiders kept the pressure up on the Lions' side of the field as the clock kept ticking down. With less than 14 minutes left, Ramapo cashed in with Cassie Tafuri Delvecchio displaying mastery in dribbling skills as she broke in and poked a shot into the right corner of the net.

Ramapo's defense tightened up, preventing the Lions from getting decent shots off at the goal. However, that all changed with less than a minute left.

On a breakaway attempt, Raiders goalkeeper Madeline Kellogg came out to challenge the play but upended the Cherry Hill West player, which led to a referee raising the yellow card and thus signaling for a penalty kick.

The Lions coaching staff designated Kennedy Erdman to take the shot. After the referee blew the whistle, Erdman ripped a shot into the top left side of the net.

The game ended up going to overtime, where two extra sessions would not be sufficient, resulting in a penalty kick shootout. Ramapo had the first opportunity to take the lead as Megan Twomey buried a shot into the right corner of the net.

Cherry Hill West tied it up at 1-1 as Kennedy Erdman followed Twomey's blueprint with a shot to the same spot despite Madeline Kellogg getting a hand on the ball.

The Raiders went back up 2-1 on a low shot into the net from Abby Hendrickson, but the Lions tied it up at 2-2 on a blistering shot off the foot of Erena Kotsedakis.

Cherry Hill West goalie Abigail Leporati came up with a big stop on the next Ramapo penalty kick. That provided some momentum as Kassidy Phillips belted a shot into the top of the net.

With the pressure back on the Raiders, Carolina Mosquera came through in the clutch knocking home a shot into the left corner of the net.

The back-and-forth action continued, with the Lions reclaiming the advantage on a missile shot from Reilly McGlinn. Ramapo responded as Kate Langfelder thumped a shot into the net.

The Lions were looking to re-take the lead, but Madeline Kellogg read the play perfectly, making a huge stop. Megan Twomey notched her second goal in penalty kicks, pelting a shot into the top right corner of the net.

Now the pressure switched back to Cherry Hill West; Kassidy Phillips delivered by cranking shot into the far-right corner of the net.

Ramapo's Abby Hendrickson stepped up and struck a low shot that snuck underneath the grasp of goalkeeper Abigail Leporati in the middle of the net.

Kellogg Save Gives Ramapo Group 3 Win

Cherry Hill West had to respond to keep the penalty kicks shootout moving into the next round. With the anticipation building on the sidelines and stands, Raider's goalkeeper Madeline Kellogg read the shot perfectly, stopping a soft shot headed for the right side of the goal.

That set off a jubilant celebration as Kellogg flung her gloves high into the air as Ramapo players and coaches streamed onto the field to celebrate winning the Group 3 State Championship Title. 

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