UNION – The final words did not come easy for Kevin Sabella.
The Ramsey coach didn’t know what to tell a group that never quit and always believed. His players were heartbroken after a 3-2 loss to Governor Livingston in Sunday’s Group 2 final at Kean University. No opponent or adversity ever seemed to big for Ramsey to handle. But the comeback kids of the state tournament finally saw their magic run out. This time, it was the Highlanders who produced the winner with only 1:19 left. A spectacular shot from Catalina Abusada ended Ramsey’s bid for a fourth state title.
“You get to this point, you’re not going to get any cupcakes,” Sabella said. “We knew that, but what am I going to say to the girls? We played unbelievable. We left some chances on the field and they left some chances on the field. It took a great shot from 20, 25 yards out to win it.”
What it means
Ramsey didn’t get the state championship, but ended the season with an impressive 19-3-1 record. The Rams won the Big North American and later picked up their first sectional title since 2011. Their lineup proved to be immune to adversity by overcoming a 3-1 lead in the sectional final and 1-0 hole in the last round. The program far exceeded expectations and should have a bright future with seven returning starters.
“These girls have nothing to be ashamed of,” Sabella said. “They are two of the 79 teams (in our group) to be standing and I thought they did a fabulous job. It’s going to sting for a day, but they’ll realize maybe tomorrow or next week or when they’re 25 years old, where they were.”
Ramsey senior Melanie Mack doubled her season goal total with two goals in the first half. She helped Ramsey build a 1-0 lead with a wonderful left-side shot from about 30 yards out. Governor Livingston bounced back with the next two goals, both from Allie Sciacchitano. But Mack tied the game with a long right wing shot that skipped under the bar and in.
The score remained even at two until just over a minute left. Abusada bounced the ball off her chest and volleyed a long shot from the middle of the field.
Ramsey goalie Katie Sylvester fought hard through the game alongside freshman centerback Helene Tyburczy to hold off their counterparts. Sylvester was under duress throughout the first half, while Tyburczy made aggressive reads to shut down play. The offensive star was clearly Mack, who nearly completed the hat trick right before intermission. But Monmouth-bound senior Alexa Correa was also impressive on counterattacks in the second half.
They said it
“This carries over hopefully to life. If this is the worst thing that’s going to happen, they are in good shape. They are fighters, whether it’s going to be in college or their jobs or whatever. They can take this and go with it.” –Sabella