Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Highlands' Title Run Ends at Four in Row

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Highlands' Title Run Ends at Four in Row

Article excerpt

UNION -- Ariel Somple spoke softly and walked slowly.

Her eyes glistened and her voice trembled, as the diminutive senior made the somber and disappointing stroll back to the Northern Highlands bus on Saturday.

"I can't believe it's over, just like that," she said quietly on the campus of Kean University. "Seeing everyone else crying is the worst part about it because then it's so hard not to cry, too. But I think we gave it everything we had."

For Somple and eight of her senior classmates, this wasn't how it was supposed to end for one of the most decorated classes in North Jersey history.

The only tears the Highlanders likely expected to shed Saturday would be those of joy in celebration.

But Colts Neck had other ideas in the Group 3 final in a much- anticipated matchup featuring two undefeated teams.

The Cougars (24-0-1) prevailed, 1-0, on a Frankie Tagliaferri penalty kick with 25:56 remaining, with the Penn State-bound junior and U.S. U-17 team member ripping one just past the outstretched arms of a diving Kayla Klatt in net.

The shocking defeat on the final day of the season had reverberating repercussions.

Gone went the Highlanders' chance at a mythical national championship, with the program entering the final as the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the country.

Ended was Northern Highlands' run of four straight Group 3 titles, with the Highlanders falling one win shy of becoming just the third team in state history to win five in a row.

And snapped was Highlands' 29-game unbeaten streak in its first loss to a public school team since the 2010 sectional final to Ramapo.

"There's a lot of emotions right now," Northern Highlands coach Tara Madigan said. "To have a PK be the deciding factor in a game like this, it's certainly a dagger. But we had our opportunities, we just couldn't find the back of the net. …

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