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Ridgewood Ladies Soccer Makes the Grade

February 25,2016

the staff o0f the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, RHS varsity soccer players Hailey and Riley Ricciardi and Emma LaFrance were named to various All State teams by the New Jersey Girls Soccer Coaches Association (NJGSCA). The selections were made by a state-wide coaches vote.

Junior Riley Ricciardi was selected to the All North 1 Regional Team. She was Ridgewood’s leading goal scorer the last two seasons.

Junior Emma LaFrance was recognized as a North 1 All State “Top 20” player in the North 1 section for 2015. Emma has been a work horse for the Maroons as an all-purpose player since she made her varsity debut as a freshman during the 2013 season.

Junior Co-Captain Hailey Ricciardi was named to the North 1 All State “Top 20” team and was also recognized by the NJGSCA as an All Region All-State (North 1, North2, Central and South) “Top 20” pick as one of the top 20 players in the entire state. Hailey was also voted to the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association Of America) Regional All American Team (All East). This is the second consecutive year that she has been accorded these honors as well as being named to the Bergen County Womens Coaches Association All County First team for the 2014 and 15 seasons.

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High School Sports : Time to redefine what a winner is


FEBRUARY 2, 2016, 11:09 AM    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2016, 11:12 AM

The enterprise of North Jersey high school sports seemingly gets sicker by the day.

At this point, it’s almost a given that some coach, school, parent or athlete is cheating or acting inappropriately nearly every day.

There is no justification. There is no explanation. There is no excuse.

And it needs to stop.

Why do coaches use athletes who aren’t physically healthy? Why do coaches feel the need to berate kids publicly and privately? How in the world does a parent get into a physical confrontation with a coach during a football practice, as in what happened in October at St. Joseph? How does a coach allow eighth-graders to practice with a high school wrestling team, like the incident last month at Don Bosco?

The list of incidents goes on and on — just since the fall.

Why do schools allow kids to be athletic free agents and jump ship while sometimes using phony change of addresses as the pretense to transfer? What makes a parent reach out to an athlete, already in high school, and tell him he should play sports somewhere else so he can get noticed and attract that college scholarship?

Who would write “White girls are soft” on a dry-erase board before a girls basketball game, as, according to one coach, happened last weekend at the Bergen County tournament? Who would think “Blackensack,” the hashtag posted last week to the private Instagram account of Paramus wrestler Nick Ciambrone along with a photo of a Caucasian wrestler in a white Paramus singlet wrestling an African-American wrestler in a dark singlet, is clever or funny?

The thing that’s funny? The people who are cheating or acting inappropriately: You’re the loser. Really. You’re just the last one to know.

Your victories count, but they’re hollow. Your championships are glorious, but they’re tainted

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Hailey Ricciardi, Ridgewood High School Junior Makes The Ridgewood News All-Suburban Girls Soccer Team


The Ridgewood News All-Suburban Girls Soccer Teams

DECEMBER 25, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2015, 12:31 AM

The individual profiles:

Hailey Ricciardi

GRADE: Junior

SCHOOL: Ridgewood


PREV. HONORS: 2013 Freshman of Year, 2014 first team

FAST FACTS: Ricciardi was named to the NSCAA All-East Region team for a second time, as she helped the Maroons (12-8-4) to 12 shutouts and a 1.04 GAA en route to the county and sectional semifinals. She added three goals and two assists to raise her career totals to four goals, three assists.

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R.H.S. girls basketball: Multi-sport athletes lead intriguing Ridgewood squad


DECEMBER 18, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2015, 12:31 AM

If she ever had the inclination, Karen Keyes easily could field a potent lacrosse team. However, the coach is totally engrossed on sending a successful basketball team onto the court.

“As usual, we’re very quick and athletic,” Ridgewood’s girls hoops coach said as she planned for tonight’s season opener at home against Ramapo. “Many of the girls play lacrosse and they have a lot of speed.”

Last year, a host of key injuries struck the Maroons and left them scrambling to fill the openings. Three of last year’s seniors missed a great deal of time and the team ended with a record of just 5-15. The positive part of that equation is that the young girls who stepped in wound up gaining experience for this season.

The underclassmen also were hard hit by physical misfortune last year. Current seniors who have returned from injuries that hampered their 2014-15 season, guard/forward Jordan Iannone and guard Jules Rosen, are back in good health.

“Jordan had a recurring ankle injury last year,” Keyes said. “She brings experience as a fourth-year varsity player. She is a composed presence and we’re depending on her in a lot of areas inside and out.

“Jules was just starting to play well last year when she suffered a severe ankle injury. In fact, she was leading the team in scoring when she went down against Hackensack. She has a nice shot and we need her to be an offensive catalyst for us.”

The senior class also features Dartmouth-bound lacrosse star Katie Bourque at guard/forward, second-year varsity swing person Mia Barbera and guard Sarah Silvestro.

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Ridgewood football holds off Montclair in OT, 24-17, in North 1, Group 5 semifinals


By Jason Bernstein | For NJ Advance Media
on November 20, 2015 10:00 PM, updated November 20, 2015 10:29 PM

RIDGEWOOD — Ridgewood was seven yards from seeing its season end in bitter disappointment.Instead, the Maroons celebrated with fans storming the field, knowing a trip to MetLife Stadium awaits.

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Ridgewood Girls Cross-Country runner makes history at state-championship meet



Even before Olympia Martin had a major meet title to her name, Ridgewood High School girls cross-country head coach Steve Opremcak knew she had made tremendous strides during the 2015 season.

“This year she just looks like a more experienced and powerful runner,” the coach said days after Martin finished second at the Bergen County Group B race in late October.

Nearly three weeks later, those words appear to be an understatement after the RHS junior ran her way into the record books of North Jersey’s most prestigious cross-country program.

Martin became the first Ridgewood girl since 2001 and just the fifth in program history to win a Group 4 title, claiming the crown in 18:43, ahead of Montclair’s Juliet Kohli (18:50), last Saturday at Holmdel Park.

She joined Margaret Scutro (1984), Jenna Rogers (1993), Celeste Sedo (1997) and Clair Nowakowski (2001) as the only Ridgewood runners to win an individual group title.

“She’s just been incredible this year,” Opremcak said in a phone interview Monday. “Every single day she does everything she’s supposed to do, so you know she’s giving herself the best possible chance to run to her ability because she does everything right.”

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Ridgewood girls cross-country eyeing first State Group 4 crown since 1999


NOVEMBER 13, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2015, 12:31 AM

Each of the past three weeks, the Ridgewood High School girls cross-country team has defended its title successfully at three major meets.

This Saturday, the stakes will be higher when the Maroons seek to capture a championship they haven’t won since 1999, the State Group 4 crown, and in a wide-open field, head coach Steve Opremcak thinks his team has a shot.

But Ridgewood isn’t alone.

“The difference this year is I see any of six teams possibly winning this race, and that’s pretty crazy,” said Opremcak, who mentioned North 2 winner North Hunterdon, Ridge, Central champion Hillsborough, South victor Kingsway and Shawnee as legitimate competitors for the crown.

Ridgewood earned its way to the race at Holmdel Park by winning the North 1, Group 4 championship for the second straight year, topping Montclair and Randolph in a three-team race, 57-64-67, last Saturday at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park.

The win also extended a successful four-week string in which the Maroons have won the Big North Freedom Division meet, Bergen County B race and the Bergen Meet of Champions.

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Big Overtime win lifts Ridgewood Football to top spot in section



WAYNE — Zack Feagles and Wylie Sherman have learned that things can get better over time.

And they can get a lot better with a win in overtime.

Feagles and Sherman made the biggest offensive and defensive plays, respectively, in the extra session of Ridgewood High School’s 20-14 football victory at Passaic County Tech last Friday.

By winning that clash of the top two teams in the North 1, Group 5 sectional power points, RHS vaulted over the Bulldogs to claim the No. 1 seed in the playoff bracket. Both teams have reached the eight-game qualifying cutoff at 6-2 and have 130 and 121 power points, respectively.

With home-field advantage locked up for the first two rounds of the state tournament, Ridgewood enters tonight’s game at Passaic (1-6) looking to stay healthy and, of course, keep the good vibes going.

“This is just a dream come true for this group of kids,” Maroon head coach Chuck Johnson said. “These seniors, when they were in eighth grade, they won one game… and now, they’re the No. 1 seed.”

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RHS Football ‘redemption tour’ in full swing


OCTOBER 23, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2015, 12:31 AM

RIDGEWOOD — All week leading up to last Friday’s game with Paramus, the Ridgewood High School football team was reminded of a year ago, when it came into that same game unbeaten and promptly got trounced.

That was the beginning of a season-ending, five-game losing streak that left a bitter taste in the mouths of the returning players.

The message got through. Thanks to a strong effort from the defense and an advantageous offense, the Maroons defeated the Spartans, 17-7, to improve to 5-1 and pretty much secure a spot in the North 1, Group 5 state playoffs.

Entering tonight’s game with Hackensack, Ridgewood sits atop the sectional power point standings, making the game with the Comets a huge opportunity.

“This was a quality win, no doubt,” RHS head coach Chuck Johnson said of the Paramus victory, “but it is only one game. And we have to be prepared to play better if we’re going to win going forward.”

A victory over Hackensack (3-2) might be enough to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It also would be another step in the Ridgewood redemption tour, given that the team squandered an excellent first-half performance in last season’s meeting, and a second-half letdown resulted in a 20-17 loss

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Ridgewood High School Football out to rewrite season script


OCTOBER 16, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015, 12:31 AM

RIDGEWOOD — Now comes the hard part.

Sitting at 4-1 and atop the North 1, Group 5 power point table, Ridgewood High School would seem to be primed for a postseason run. It’s a position in which the Maroons found themselves one year ago, and RHS fans all know what happened after that.

From 5-0 to 5-5, the 2014 season took a downhill slide, and it all began with a game against Paramus, which administered a 35-0 drubbing that served as the most embarrassing moment of last fall.

For the Ridgewood juniors and seniors who played in that game, they’ve had a year to digest it and understand how not to let it happen again. Their shot at redemption comes tonight, when Paramus visits RHS Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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Sen. Codey to push bill penalizing athletes who repeat grades for athletic edge

RHS stadium 2

State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) will introduce a bill this fall that aims to penalize athletes who repeat a grade in middle school to gain athletic advantage in high school, NJ Advance Media has learned. Matthew Stanmyre, Read more

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Pair of finalists propels Ridgewood Girls Tennis to second in Bergen tournament

RHS girls Tennis bctfinalists

From left, Ridgewood freshman Sophia Swanson, junior Alex Absey and senior Elizabeth O’Keefe all reached the large-school finals at last weekend’s Bergen County tournament. Absey navigated the third-singles bracket to earn a place in the championship match, while Swanson and O’Keefe teamed up to do the same at first doubles.

Pair of finalists propels Ridgewood Girls Tennis to second in Bergen tournament

OCTOBER 2, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2015, 12:31 AM

RHS first doubles and third singles reach title matches in large-schools bracket

If just one more match went in its favor, the Ridgewood High School girls tennis team would be celebrating after earning at least a share of the Bergen County large-schools crown.

Unfortunately for the Maroons, not all the bounces went their way, but there are still plenty of positives to extract from this past weekend’s tournament, not least of which is the motivation Ridgewood now has heading into the state sectionals.

The Maroons placed finalists in two brackets, which helped drive them to a second-place finish in the large-schools division with 10 points, just behind Holy Angels’ 11.

“Of course we were pleased with the finish we had but a little disappointed that we couldn’t clinch, but credit Holy Angels for their strong play in the tournament,” Ridgewood head coach Medha Kirtane said in a phone interview earlier this week.

Elizabeth O’Keefe and Sophia Swanson, seeded third at first doubles, reached the finals where they fell to top-seeded Danielle Mandel and Anna Antonova of Fair Lawn.

Meanwhile, third-singles player Alex Absey battled her way through the bracket as a second seed, making her way to the finals before being knocked off by Indian Hills’ Ariella Shugleyt, 6-1, 6-4.

The Maroons improved on last year’s performance in the tournament, when they finished in a tie for second with eight points.


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Unequal’s Gyro helmet liner the latest in military-grade football protection


Under the brightest of Friday night lights, a little history was made on December 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. When Cedar Park took on Ennis for the 5A Conference, Division 2 championship, which Ennis won 38-35, it was more than a football game between Austin and Dallas-area schools.

A Pennsylvania-based company known as Unequal touted the matchup as the first time two opposing high schools would meet in a Texas State High School football championship game with supplemental protection — a product Unequal calls Gyro — inside their helmets.

The quarter-inch thick liner, which sells for $60, is made of a military grade composite — strengthened by Kevlar and Accelleron — which absorbs and disperses impact energy away from the head and body in a way that typical padding of equal weight and thickness cannot.

With growing concerns about traumatic head injuries in football, there are already coaches calling for this type of added protection to be mandated at all levels.

“I saw how effective the Kevlar products were for quarterback rib injuries, and running back shoulder injuries,” says former college and NFL coach June Jones, “and that triggered me to see if we could use it in thigh pads. The players were amazed at how good they felt after games. Finally, I wondered, ‘Why don’t we put it in our helmets?’ We did last year at SMU and it made a difference.”

Rob Vito, a Penn State business school professor who is president and founder of Unequal, says his company originally started with military contracts, until one day a United States Marine who was a student at Penn State told Vito, “You made a bullet proof vest that’s lighter, thinner and more flexible, and make soldiers safer. You should be able to dominate sports.”

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Touring the camps: Ridgewood football


AUGUST 23, 2015    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 2015, 1:20 AM

RIDGEWOOD – There is a very different feel to the Ridgewood football team as it embarks on the 2015 campaign. The first thing that pops out is the filled-out bodies, especially among the linemen.

There is also a different intensity, one likely borne out of the disappointing way the Maroons ended the 2014 season. After starting 5-0 and outscoring opponents 220-24, they fell prey to their success.

A 35-0 loss to Paramus, a defeat that head coach Chuck Johnson called, “one of the most embarrassing moments in my 30 years here,” started a five-game losing streak.

Senior Mike Kendrick probably said it best when he recalled, “we basically got smacked in the mouth and didn’t react.”

That memory is what drives Kendrick and the rest of the seniors. You can see it in practice, as there is an extra spark to every drill.

“We’re learning from the mistakes of last year,” said Kendrick, the left tackle and only returning starter on the offensive line. “We know we have to be better than last year. We’re watching every film to see where it went wrong and focusing on being better and working on getting stronger to be able to go up against the better linemen.”

Johnson was proud that six of his players bench pressed more than 300 pounds this spring, a sign that the Maroons have bought into the work ethic.

The linemen, offensively and defensively, average an extra 20 pounds per man. How strength translates to blocking schemes is still a big question.

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Golf: Ridgewood’s John Driscoll steps up in class


JULY 27, 2015    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015, 1:21 AM

John Driscoll has set his sights on winning the New Jersey Junior Championship and has given himself five years to do it.

New Jersey’s reigning Boys champion is foregoing his final two years of eligibility in that 15-and-under division and stepping up in class against many of the Garden State’s premier 18-year-olds.

The 14-year-old from Ridgewood hopes to join a prestigious list of golfers who have won the New Jersey State Golf Association’s Boys and Junior titles since the former debuted in 1971. Six have won both, most recently Wayne’s Anthony Alex in 2009.

“I just wanted to give myself an opportunity to do it,” Driscoll said.

The 94th Junior and 45th Boys championships open today at Rumson Country Club and Driscoll, an incoming freshman at Don Bosco, will compete against golfers who in the spring were chosen All-State by the New Jersey PGA and in late summer will head to college.

“To be honest, my goal is just to make match play in the Junior,” said Driscoll, who plays out of Arcola CC in Paramus, “because I know there’s a lot of good players there. And I know if you can make match play, anything can happen. That was my mind-set last year.”

The Junior has a field of 77 who today will compete in an 18-hole, stroke-play qualifier, with the low 16 advancing to Tuesday morning’s first round of match play. The final is Wednesday afternoon.