Barry's late goal lifts IHA into county final

Alex Barry scored with 39 seconds left in regulation to give IHA a 2-1 win over Ramapo in the Bergen County Tournament semifinals on Sunday in River Edge.

RIVER EDGE – At some point late in high stakes soccer matches the risk of pushing forward in search of the game-winning goal becomes too much. Getting caught on a counter attack in the waning moments is an excruciating way to lose. It is a safer strategy to pull back and defer trying to determine a winner until an overtime period or penalty kick shootout.

On Sunday in the semifinals of the Bergen County Tournament, neither third-seeded IHA nor No. 2 Ramapo were interested in such tactics. Both sides, playing for a spot opposite top seed and defending champion Ridgewood in next weekend’s championship match, were going end to end trying to find a late game-winner and a way through to the final.

There was no parking the bus.

“That is the way the game should be played. Controlled attack. [Ramapo] has a highly athletic team, a highly skilled team and it was pleasure to be a part of for sure,” said IHA head coach Eric Pfeifer. “Nobody wants to go to overtime; you don’t want to go to a flip of a coin. You want to win it on your own terms.”

Those terms were hammered out in the final minute of regulation as Caitlin Forshay drove the ball down the left side and toward the endline from where she sent in a cross into a pile in front of the net. Alex Barry was won the battle and won the game from inside the six yard box. Barry hammered home from close range with 39 seconds left in regulation to give IHA a 2-1 victory and a spot in the final against Ridgewood, which knocked out No. 4 Ramsey, 2-0, in the other semifinal.

Abby Hendrickson's goal in the opening minute of the second half got Ramapo even at 1.

“Cate took it down the line. She was doing it all game and I knew she was going to get the ball in. Once I got it to my feet I knew I just had to turn and get a shot off,” said Barry, a junior striker. “The second I saw the open goal I just hit it as hard as I could to get in the back of the net. The goalie was down and I have been in that situation a lot and I just had to stay calm and trust myself to put it in.”

It was an entertaining contest from start to finish as both teams were full speed right from the beginning. It was that all-out charge for the ball that led to the game’s first goal and Barry was right in the middle of that too. She absorbed contact in the race for a 50/50 ball just outside the box and the ricochet turned out better than expected for the Blue Eagles. Barry redirected the ball past hard-charging defenders and it continued to bounce into the open goal as Ramapo keeper Maddie Kellogg had come off her line to deal with the original threat and IHA had a 1-0 lead after just eight minutes.

There were chances for each side for the rest of the first half. Ramapo tested IHA keeper Noelle Haskell on two separate occasions, the first was when Kate Langfelder sent in Grace Galucci down the middle of the field. Haskell slid out to break up the danger in the 18th minute. Ten minutes later Cassie Tafuri Del Veccio got free with the ball on her left foot and hit a rip right into the midsection of Haskell, who held her ground and made the save to keep it a 1-0 game at halftime.

Less than one minute after the intermission, the game was tied. With its first possession of the second half Ramapo turned a Megan Twomey cross from the right wing into a goal when it was knocked in by sophomore Abby Hendrickson with 39:33 to play in the game.

Caitlin Forshay had both assists for IHA, which will face Ridgewood in the county final.

Kellogg kept Ramapo even with two quality saves in a two-minute span when she caught IHA’s Lindsay Ford effort at the far post in the midsection and then robbed Ford in a 1-v-1 situation. Ford settled a diagonal serve into the box and, with time, she settled the ball at her feet only to see Kellogg turn the shot a way with a reactionary save in the 52nd minute. Ramapo also hit the crossbar after Carolina Mosquera played in a free kick from the left side. Galucci played the first ball on to Langfelder, who got a shot over a defender, but it hit the framework in the 60th minute.

All the while IHA was also making dangerous forays into the final third with Lindsay Probst distributing from the middle of the field. Probst was reinserted with fresh legs inside the final 20 minutes and was instrumental in organizing the Eagles.

“We have been moving the ball really well, we share it and it is all about the team not just one person,” said Probst, a junior. “I really focus on using everybody, moving the ball quickly and that is how we find most of our success.”

It was Probst that played the ball out wide to Forshay, who then got in behind the last defender before sending in the cross that led to Barry’s game-winner.

“I got around and I knew I wanted to get inside and get that cutback because I know that if I can get that cross in that Alex is going to be there to finish it,” said Forshay. ”I picked my head up, I saw Alex in the box and I said, ‘I am playing it in.’ I did and at first I thought it was going to be an own goal because of the way it bounced around and then I saw [Barry] kind of frame herself in the box and I knew it was going to be the goal that was going to win it.”