Ward Melville wins first county title
With her solid black shirt, shorts, socks and cleats, Ally Ramos is like the grim reaper of goalkeepers. Fittingly so, because when she is in goal, it is where soccer balls go to die.
“This is the first time we’ve ever made it to counties and being the goalkeeper in this game meant everything to me,” Ramos said. “Having a shutout especially, being able to not let anything past me in this game means so much.”
Ramos was challenged throughout yesterday but made 15 saves for her 13th and most impressive shutout of the season to propel No. 1 Ward Melville to a 1-0 win over No. 2 Northport to win at Dowling for the first Class AA county championship in school history.
“She saved us,” Ward Melville coach John Diehl said of Ramos. “She’s shutting out top teams, it’s not a fluke. She is the best keeper, I think, on Long Island.”
Ramos made a kick save on a point blank shot by Rosy Hayes just seven minutes in, a stop that, although early, was crucial to setting the tone against a dangerous Northport attack. Less than three minutes later, Tara O’Hern provided Ramos the only goal she needed. Adrianna Morra sent in a corner tick that O’Hern knocked in to take a 1-0 lead 9:36 into the game.
“I knew that we had to capitalize on our opportunities because we were playing a great team and we needed to finish early,” O’Hern said. We worked so hard for this. This is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Northport (15-2-1) spent a majority of the game in Ward Melville’s half of the field but were unable to finish. After Ramos made the early stop on Hayes, she got another opportunity but hit the crossbar. Ward Melville then switched to man-to-man coverage on Hayes but Kristi Abbate continued to create numerous opportunities, sending perfect passes to the feet of her teammates.
Abbate sent a slant to Cortney Fortunato in the box but the play was broken up beautifully by defender Maddy Wollmuth midway through the second half. Abbate then fed Hayes, who one-touched it to Vincenza Patrone, but her shot carried just over the crossbar.
Hayes had one final opportunity but fired just wide of the far post with one minute remaining. Jennifer Balzan cleared the ball in the final seconds and the celebration was on, thanks in large part to the Patriot defense.
“I tried not to think about it too much because I was a little scared going into it,” Wollmuth said of defending the Northport attack. “They did have a lot of technical skill but basically it came down to effort and we just stuck through it until the end...This is such a huge experience for me and my teammates.”
The win had added significance for Ward Melville’s five senior captains, who have been playing together since freshman year. Ramos, along with Caysea Cohen, Adrianna Morra, Jordan Porretto and Lizzy Rullan can now move onto college knowing they took the Ward Melville girls soccer program to new heights.
Their final season together continues on at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday as Ward Melville (16-1-1) advances to play MacArthur for the Long Island Championship at Denton Park.
“In 31 years of girls soccer at Ward Melville, this is the first time we’ve ever done this,” Ramos said. “I’m just so happy to be a part of it.”