Waldwick tunes up for states by grabbing a share of a league title

Abby Incorvaia scored twice less than five minutes apart in the first half for Waldwick, which earned at least a share of the NJIC-Patriot Division title with a 3-0 win over Park Ridge on Tuesday.

WALDWICK – In each of the past two years, Waldwick started their quest for a section title by winning the NJIC-Patriot Division crown first. However, their streak of league titles was in jeopardy coming into a showdown with Park Ridge, which just won a title of its own in the Bergen County Invitational this past weekend and had won eight of its last nine games. Both teams knew it was going to be a physical battle. The major difference is one team had Abby Incorvaia and the other did not.

Incorvaia scored twice less than five minutes apart in the first half and the Warriors back line held Park Ridge in check from start to finish as Waldwick earned at least a share of the NJIC-Patriot Division title and moves into state tournament with some momentum after a 3-0 win over Park Ridge on Tuesday afternoon at Waldwick High School.

The unsung heroes of this game and this team have been Elizabeth Davis and Julia Levitzke. With them winning one 50-50 ball after another, controlling the middle of the field, and then quickly finding their playmakers up top, that allows Waldwick to constantly go into attack mode.

“(Davis and Levitzke) have really stepped up their game and they always seem to make the right decision,” said Incorvaia. “Them along with our fullbacks, we really work well together. They know when to play it safe or get aggressive and look to move forward. It gives us a lot of ways we can create pressure and score goals.”

Following a foul outside the box, Waldwick flooded their players up front towards the left post. Incorvaia had planned on serving the ball in. But the Lady Owls late in setting up a wall, she saw a clear path to shoot on target. The junior’s low-lining blast found the back of the net to put the Warriors in front with 27:01 to play in the half. Then in the 18th minute, the Syracuse commit wiggled free to create space from a tight mark and scored from 25 yards out to give Waldwick a 2-0 lead that they took into halftime.

Allie Shenloogian had one of the best scoring chances for Park Ridge, which wias coming off winning the Bergen Invitational Tournament this past weekend.

“I saw their wall wasn’t set up and their goalie was cheating a little to the side where everyone was, so I just went for it,” added Incorvaia. “Park Ridge is always tough, and it was very important for us to score first and set the tone.”

Park Ridge showed some life in the second half and had some legitimate scoring chances to get back in the game. Incorvaia had broken free on a breakaway, but Park Ridge keeper Mackenzie Bratlof charged off her line to make a great save. On the counterattack, three-sport star Allie Shenloogian appeared to be shielded from a bouncing long ball at the top of the box. She somehow squeezed between them to get a flick on it towards the upper left-hand corner. Waldwick keeper Carleigh Nocito read the play and made a nice leaping save to keep the Owls off the scoreboard.

“We’re happy won a piece of the league title and now we’re striving for another section title,” said Waldwick head coach Julia Cuddy. “We have a lot of players who can score, but it’s really how well we played defensively that it going to take us to that next level.”

Mayu Nakano, who marked well all game long, was able to get forward and put the finishing touches on the win with a goal in the 73rd minute for Waldwick (12-3). Lucy Castaneda assisted on Nakano’s goal and Nocito made five saves to earn the shutout.

Both teams will have to recover quickly and turn their attention towards the North 1 Group 1 state tournament, which starts tomorrow. Waldwick, the two-time defending section champion, will be the No. 5 seed and take on No. 12 seed North Warren. Park Ridge grabbed the No. 3 seed and will also have a home game against 14th seeded Pompton Lakes.

With this section being so top-heavy, the Warriors know they will have to go on the road. They will have to bring their ‘A’ game every time out if they are to win a third straight title. 

“Even though we’re the number five seed, we’re the reigning section champions so we know we have a target on our back,” said Incorvaia, whose sister Ava is a senior and will play at the University of Albany next fall. “I think teams gunning for us will keep us honest and keep us motivated to win it again. Playing well and winning like we did today leads us right into states and we’ll be ready for the challenges ahead.”