North 1, Group 1
No. 2 Park Ridge (19-2) at No. 1 Waldwick (18-4-2), 2 p.m.
Storyline: Can Waldwick figure out Park Ridge? The Warriors were sensational this season and made the Bergen semifinals in one of the deepest runs ever by a Group 1 school. But to win their fourth sectional title of this decade — to avenge last year’s finals loss to Pompton Lakes — coach Jonathan Noschese’s group must get through a team that’s had its number. Park Ridge won the NJIC Patriot with 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Waldwick and recorded 13 shutouts along the way. Their ball possession may not match that of Waldwick’s, but their high-pressure and counter-attacking presents a real challenge.
How they got here: Waldwick fought off Wallington in the semifinals for a 9-8 PK win (1-1 final score), in a battle between Group 1 powerhouses. The marathon match was the first real test for the Warriors, who advanced with 5-0 shutouts over Emerson and Bergen Charter. Park Ridge got its championship bid with a 2-1 double overtime victory over Boonton. The Owls also knocked off Midland Park (5-1 score) and Wood-Ridge (6-0), both at home.
Players to watch: Park Ridge’s Nardi Lita (30 goals, 13 assists) is a clever offensive star with a strong track record against Waldwick. The Owl senior broke his own single-season scoring record and highlights an offense with Thomas Thomasian (10 goals). Nicholas Ippolito and throw-in specialist Dustin Glynn are productive on defense for Park Ridge. Waldwick’s Chris Borgese is an exciting player up top, but the Warriors also count on David Kawash and Lucas Ruehlemann for points. Senior D James Huber and senior M Garrett Mironenko keep order in front of third-year goalie Lucas Mainenti.
North 1, Group 2
No. 2 Glen Rock (21-0-1) at No. 1 Ramsey (16-2), 2 p.m.
Storyline: Does Ramsey get redemption or will Glen Rock get its trifecta? The Panthers have dominated all season and earned a decisive 3-0 victory over Ramsey in the Bergen final. The Panthers’ first BCT title was made possible by the outstanding work of senior forward Ben Zakowski, who has 22 goals and 8 assists. The Rams wanted this rematch and now hope Muhlenberg-bound goalie Justin Siegel can push them to a better result.
How they got here: Glen Rock cruised past Manchester (3-0 final), Lenape Valley (3-0) and Lakeland (8-1). Ramsey downed Westwood (2-0), Dover (3-2) and Mahwah (3-0).
Players to watch: Zakowski and Nick Rogers (19 goals, 5 assists) make an explosive 1-2 punch for Glen Rock, while Connor Daly, Ryan McCarthy and set-piece wizard Mark Buckel balance out the lineup. Ramsey’s Brian Miller (13 goals, 7 assists) is a tenacious player up top and leads the team along with seniors Sean Connolly and Zach Peters. The Rams also get a boost from their bench with Aidan Hildebrand and Kieran Francis among the top scorers.
North 2, Group 2
No. 2 Hackettstown (17-4-1) at No. 1 Harrison (19-4), 2 p.m.
Storyline: Does Harrison take back its title? The Blue Tide won this section in 2016, only to have Dover triumph in a championship rematch the next year. The good news for Harrison came in the offseason when the Tigers were switched into another bracket. Omar Sowe and the prolific Blue Tide offense will look to take advantage with their ninth win in 10 games.
How they got here: Harrison stormed past Parsippany (4-2), Fort Lee (6-1) and Madison (5-2). Hackettstown defeated Science Park (4-1), Newark Tech (2-0) and Caldwell (2-2, 4-2 in shootouts).
Players to watch: Sowe (35 goals, 21 assists) is a game-changing player who consistently produces in spite of close attention. Jairo Araujo, Allan De Melo and Maicol Diaz have all taken some pressure off the senior.