After locking up the No.2 seed in the Skyline Conference Tournament with an 18-8 victory Monday over Kean University there’s only one obstacle left for the Roadrunners: dethrone Montclair State.
Champions four out of the last five seasons, Montclair will more than likely be the team Ramapo will have to go through to turnaround from 1-10 in 2008 to Skyline Champions in 2011.
With the best active winning streak in the conference at five, the Roadrunners are peaking at the right time. The win over Kean is crucial going into the tournament.
"This win was huge for us," said midfielder Adrianna Tepedino who had four goals and four assists, leading the team with eight points. "Now we have a bye in the first round and don’t drop down to the fourth seed."
If Ramapo had lost, they would have dropped into a three way tie and fallen to the fourth seed due to tiebreaking rules. This would’ve meant facing tougher competition sooner and playing on the road.
Standout Amanda Barretta had yet another big game for the Roadrunners, producing five goals. The second goal was the 100th goal of her career.
"It’s amazing," coach Concetta Valerio said. "She’s scored 100 goals and she’s only been playing two years.""Amanda brings a lot to the table, not only her skills — she is very fast — but she has the ability to make the teammates around her better."
With the lacrosse program still in its infancy, this being its fifth official season, Barretta is already the school’s leading career scorer with 103 goals in only two seasons. She leads the team with 42 this season.
Valerio also credited Barretta’s teammates,
"A lot of it is a testament to her. But, as much as it’s been something she did, her teammates have been so supportive. They made it a goal for them as well to make sure Amanda got to 100."
Part of that supporting cast Monday was junior Colleen Steel, who led the team with six goals. She admitted to being a little more fired up than usual against rival Kean, especially after a big win over conference foe Farmingdale St. a week earlier.
"We had a lot of heart yesterday," Steel said. "We really wanted to go out there and win. Amanda Ferry shut down their best player and our goalie [Diana Silva] made some great saves."
Ferry and Silva were key parts of why Ramapo jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back.
"Our defense stepped up a lot," Barretta said. "We wanted to get ahead early so they wouldn’t get any energy going. We wanted to get ahead to take them out of the game."
Bragging rights were also on the line for Valerio, who attended Kean and played both field hockey and lacrosse at the school.
Valerio has turned the lacrosse program around, improving the team’s record each of the past three seasons. This season Ramapo is 9-4 and 7-1 against Skyline competition. Despite the success, Valerio has remained humble.
"I would love to take credit for turning the program around, but I can’t say that it has been me," Valerio said. "My kids have had to fight through many different things."
"It’s been all about my kids being a team on the field and off. I don’t want to take credit for it because it has been so much of them."
Rutgers-Camden this Saturday at home will be Senior Day and the final regular season match up. Then, their attempt to shock the Skyline Conference and take down Montclair begins.
"If we go in with the attitude we can dethrone them and beat them and play smart then it’ll be a close game," Valerio said. "But, Montclair is a very strong group of girls. Physically, they are very tall and athletic"
Barretta knows it is going to take their team best effort to defeat a powerhouse that is 47-5 all-time versus Skyline opponents.
"A lot of heart and discipline is going to be needed," Valerio said. "We need to step up and play our own game. We can’t let Montclair dictate how we play."
If it comes down to it, Valerio is confident her team will be ready.
"It’s going to be a completely different game, we’re a completely different team now."