September 5, 2015
Brian Deakyne | For NJ Advance Media
ALLENDALE — The day before, the players of Northern Highlands sat in the bleachers of their own high school and watched Bergen County rival Immaculate Heart, the No. 1 team in the NJ.com Top 20, get knocked around by nationally ranked Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa, Calif.
On Saturday, No. 2 Northern Highlands proved that it belongs in the discussion as the top team in the country as it ousted that same Maria Carrillo team, 3-1, in front of a raucous crowd.
“We were really confident because when we watched IHA come out, they were really frantic and we’re used to playing 1-2 touch,” said Northern Highlands forward Ariel Somple, who scored the Highlanders’ first goal in the 31st minute.
“We knew that if we stay composed, we could play the way we play and finish right away.”
Sydney Rickert put Maria Carrillo on the board first when she pumped a direct kick outside the 18-yard box to the far post in the 21st minute, but Northern Highlands responded in a big way.
Somple took a pass from Richards and planted her left-footed shot inside the upper-90 to tie the game at one. Freshman Claudia Dipasupil broke the 1-1 tie in the 58th minute when she picked up a loose ball in the box and made a sliding stab at the ball to push it past Maria Carrillo goalie Claire Howard.
Richards put the game out of reach in the 64th minute when she took a pass from Eva Hurm and blasted a low shot off the post and in.
“It’s so special, and especially with our loss last year, this puts us in a position to where we were able to prove ourselves,” Richards said of the win. “We’ve been working so hard since Aug. 11 to come out here and beat this team and we did it.”
Northern Highlands controlled the pace of the game from the outset and forced Maria Carrillo to create its chances in the counter attack. The Highlanders, led by Richards, had a flurry of chances in the opening 10 minutes of the game but could not squeeze the ball past Howard, who finished with eight saves.
“Part of our strategy was to score a goal early,” Northern Highlands coach Tara Madigan said. “We tried to score a goal in the first eight to 10 minutes and put them on their heels. It didn’t work out that way and we gave up a direct kick, which was a beautiful goal, but we had to come from behind. I also think that’s challenging and in the first game of the season you want to see your players respond and I was pleased with the way we responded.”
Kayla Klatt finished with four saves as Northern Highlands held Maria Carrillo without a shot in the second half.