Twomey's PK puts Ramapo back in the semifinals

Ramapo's Megan Twomey drew a penalty and then buried the PK for the winning goal in Ramapo's 1-0 victory over NV/Old Tappan in the quarterfinals of the Bergen County Tournament on Sunday.

OAKLAND – With a bevy of Division 1 talent on its roster Ramapo has rolled through the season thus far as the top team in Bergen County and one of the best in New Jersey. The Green Raiders have faced few adverse situations,but one of them arose heading into the Bergen County quarterfinal round against Northern Valley/Old Tappan. With several players visiting colleges the lineup had to be adjusted. Regardless of the rotation, the approach stayed the same as the Green Raiders were in attack mode from the first whistle to the final buzzer.

Northern Valley/Old Tappan goalie Mackenzie Ward presented quite a challenge with a slew of great saves in both halves. However, it was Ramapo’s Megan Twomey who made the biggest play of the game. The junior converted her penalty kick in the ninth minute as the top-seeded Green Raiders held on to advance to the Bergen County semifinals with a 1-0 win over ninth-seeded Golden Knights on Sunday afternoon at Indian Hills High School in Oakland.

“We had a lot of players away at college visits and had to make some major adjustments,” said Ramapo head coach Maddie Gibbs. “That goalie (Ward) is hands down very, very talented. She’s one of the best in the county and she definitely kept them in the game. We tried to stretch their defenders by getting wide as often as possible and to play as aggressive as we could to create some chances. We only got one today and it happened to be enough to get the win.”

Ramapo (13-0) was without the services of University of South Carolina commit Emily Chico and Mary Cochran sat the first half. That forced Ramapo head coach Gibbs to move Twomey into a center mid slot. Twomey felt quite comfortable in that role and used her trademark hustle to earn a tripping call in the box for a penalty kick. She drilled the PK into the lower left-hand corner to give Ramapo a 1-0 lead just 8:30 into the game.

Mackenzie Ward kept Old Tappan in the game with one big save after another.

“I just wanted to go hard on the ground to the corner and that’s where it went,” said Twomey. “I knew I had to play as hard as I could playing in Mary’s spot during the first half. We need to play with more of a pep in our step as all the games from here on are very important. When we play full throttle we like our chances.”

The Green Raiders controlled the flow of play throughout and had six legitimate scoring chances in the final five minutes of the first half. All of them though were either saved by Ward or were off target as the Golden Knights hung on to stay within striking distance.

Cochran returned for the second half and made an immediate impact with several slick combination passes and through balls through tight windows to give the Green Raiders scoring opportunities. While Ward (14 saves) made several highlight-worthy plays she was not alone. Center backs Emily Clune and Alexandria Tripodi also made their fair share of plays in the box to clear away numerous scoring threats. Although the Golden Knights rarely even approached the Green Raiders’ defensive third of the field, by playing hard and keeping the deficit to one goal it meant that just one lucky bounce or a perfect shot late could force overtime.

Old Tappan (7-4-3) finally earned scoring opportunities over the final 10 minutes off a pair of long direct kicks from Clune they were served to nearly the exact same spot in the middle of the box. On the first one, Ramapo goalie Madeline Kellogg charged off her line to pick it off before a Golden Knight player could get her head to it. One of the Old Tappan players did get a head on the second kick, but it went wide as Ramapo moved into its customary spot in Bergen County semifinals.

Mary Cochrane held Ramapo make it back to the county semfiinals for the 17th straight season.

The Green Raiders have the longest streak in Bergen County having advanced to the county semifinals every season since 2003 (sans 2020 when the county tournament was scrapped due to the pandemic). But this team is far from satisfied and will accept nothing less than being county champions once again. As the games grow in importance the Ramapo players are aware they need to rise to the occasion.

“I think overall this year has been really oriented around setting certain morals and restrictions within the program from the varsity to the freshman level to build the program as a whole,” said Gibbs. “It’s showed with how hard we’re working and the results we’re getting because of that hard work. We’ll keep attacking and working on getting behind defenders to find ways to keep scoring. It has worked out well so far but we still have a long way to go.”