A season to remember: a review of the Lady Devils and a winning season

RVGS had one of the most successful seasons in years, being the first team in RVGS history to make it to the sectional finals


Photo curtesy of Tami Corson

The girls celebrate after their 4-1 win which advanced them to the Group 4 Sectional Final.

Riley Ruiz, Sports Editor

In a season filled with more highs than lows, the Rancocas Valley girls soccer team finished with a record of 19-5-1 and achieved numerous accomplishments throughout the season, including winning the BSLC – Liberty division. This was despite the loss of a number of starting players at the end of last season, a year of cancellations and schedule changes due to the pandemic and a number of other factors which shaped a wild but successful run for the Lady Devils. 

“[My] initial thoughts in the beginning of the season was [the loss of] our very talented seniors from the year before and a key player out with an injury,” said Coach James Flanagan, or “Coach Flan,” according to many of the players.

In the beginning of the season, after their first loss to Kingsway, the girls held onto an eight-game winning streak which was then broken at an away game against Holy Cross Prep.

“I expected this going into the game,” said Coach Flanagan of the loss to Holy Cross. “Our heads weren’t there because of the homecoming activities later that night.”

Coming off a loss is tough, but heading into a game against one of the soccer powerhouses of south Jersey is tougher. The unexpected tie against Burlington Township on senior night was not the outcome the girls had wanted or expected. The game following Burlington concluded in the girls third loss of the season against Cinnaminson. The girls would then advance into the South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament on a losing streak. 

They would face Cinnaminson again in their first round of the Coaches Cup where they would come out successful, scoring one goal in the first half against the pirates. In the quarterfinal round, they faced Millville where junior captain Kennedy Garcia scored an early goal in the first half. Adding to the score, junior Erin Lally nailed in a header off of junior Nicole Everard’s corner. Securing a third and final goal from sophomore Leah Howe would bring them to the semifinal game where they would face Ocean City, ranked No. 8 by NJ.com

The semifinal match yielded nervousness and excitement, but the Lady Devils were ready to give it their all, as they prepared to face one of the best teams they played this season. The Ocean City Red Raiders star senior, Summer Reimet, scored the first goal and left the Red Devils flustered for the rest of the first half. However, fans saw a slight shift in the second half as Howe scored a late goal, tying up the game. Unfortunately, the Red Raiders regained the lead with another goal from Reimet, leaving Ocean City with a 2-1 victory and bringing them to the Championship.

 “Even though [this game] was a tough loss, it helped to show our potential as a team and how far we really could go in states if we continue to work together and be supportive of one another on and off the field,” said senior Logan Shaw.

Even though [this game] was a tough loss, it helped to show our potential as a team and how far we really could go in states if we continue to work together and be supportive of one another on and off the field

— Logan Shaw

While the loss was devastating, it would spark motivation going into the Group 4 Central Jersey NJSIAA tournament in early November.

On November 2, the first round of the state tournament played on RV’s home turf was against New Brunswick which concluded in a dominating 6-0 win. In the first half, goals were scored by junior Maya Kruzdlo, freshman Joanna Marlin and Shaw. In the second half, the final three goals were scored by senior Ava Devers, sophomore Julia Amador and senior Jayda Lundy. 

On November 5, the quarterfinal round was also played on our home turf against Old Bridge. Two minutes into the first half, senior Ava Morales gave Old Bridge the early lead. However, RV did not give up and they secured a 3-1 lead shortly after Morales’ goal with goals from Nicole Everard, Leah Howe and Kennedy Garcia. These goals secured them a spot in the semifinal round for the first time ever, making Rancocas Valley Girls Soccer history.

On November 9, the semifinal round against third-seeded East Brunswick also took place on RV’s home turf. East Brunswick’s Kayla Reed scored an early goal, but it only further motivated the Red Devils. RV’s Garcia scored two goals shortly after, giving RV the lead going into the second half. Garcia hit two more goals in, securing the win for RV and sending them to the championship game against NJ.com ranked No.1, Freehold, on November 12. 

A quick celebration following Maya Kruzdlo’s goal against Freehold in the Group 4 Sectional Final. (Photo curtesy of Tami Corson)

Having gone undefeated all season, Freehold would be the most difficult competition yet for the girls. Like many other high-stakes games this season, Freehold scored early and kept the Lady Devils on their toes. Going into the second half down by one, the girls worked hard to fight back, but fell short letting in another goal. Garcia took control of the game, and scored shortly after Freehold, giving the girls a spark which allowed them to score two more goals in the second half, one from Kruzdlo and another one from Garcia, to gain the lead. With nearly nine minutes left in the half, Freehold tied the game back up which led this game into overtime. Despite their grit, the Lady Devils would lose to Freehold in the second half of overtime.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome,” said Coach Flanagan of the season. “We won the league for the third time. If you would have told me in August that we would win 19 games and lose in the section final to the number one team in the state, at the time, I would have been thrilled.”

Regardless of the outcome of the sectional championship game, one can’t deny the determination of the young women on the field, making them the winningest team in fall sports in the 2021 season.